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[1868 - 1869] Comte de Lautreamont - Maldoror and Poems

[1868 - 1869] Comte de Lautreamont - Maldoror and Poems

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Published by: Emisa Rista on Apr 16, 2011
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MALDOROR AND POEMSComte de LautreamontTranscribed by hand by DPDedicated to Elizabeth Emelia who understood me and this book like none otherFIRST BOOK1May it please heaven that the reader, emboldened and having for the time being become asfierce as what he is reading, should, without being led astray, find his rugged and treacherousway across the desolate swamps of these sombre and poison-filled pages; for, unless he bringsto his reading a rigorous logic and a tautness of mind equal at least to his wariness, the deadlyemanations of this book will dissolve his soul as water does sugar. It is not right that everyoneshould savour this bitter fruit with impunity. Consequently, shrinking soul, turn on your heels andgo back before penetrating further into such uncharted, perilous wastelands. Listen well to what Isay: turn on your heels and go back, not forward, like the eyes of a son respectfully averted formthe august contemplation of his mother’s face; or rather like a formation of very meditative cranes,stretching out of sight, whose sensitive bodies flee the chill of winter, when, their wings fullyextended, they fly powerfully through silence to a precise point on the horizon, from whichsuddenly a strange strong wind blows, precursor of the storm. The oldest crane, flying on aloneahead of the others, shakes his head like a reasonable person on seeing this, making at thesame time a clack with his beak, and he is troubled (as I, too, would be, if I were he); all the timehis scrawny and featherless neck, which has seen three generations of cranes, is moving inirritated undulations which foretoken the quickly-gathering storm. Having calmly looked in alldirections with his experienced eyes, the crane prudently (ahead of all the others, for he has theprivilege of showing his tail-feathers to his less intelligent fellows) gyrates to change the directionof the geometric figure (perhaps it is a triangle, but one cannot see the third side which thesecurious birds of passage form in space) either to port or to starboard, like a skilled captain;uttering as he does to his vigilant cry, like that of a melancholy sentry, to repulse the commonenemy. Then, maneuvering with wings which seem no bigger than a starling’s, because he is nofool, he takes another philosophic and surer line of flight.2Reader, perhaps it is hatred you wish me to invoke at the outset of this work! What makes youthink that you will not sniff—drenched in numberless pleasures, for as long as you wish, with yourproud nostrils, wide and thin, as you turn over on your belly like a shark, in the beautiful black air,as if you understood the importance of this act and the equal importance of your legitimateappetite, slowly and majestically—its red emanations. I assure you, they will delight the twoshapeless holes of your hideous muzzle, if you endeavour beforehand to inhale, in threethousand consecutive breaths, the accursed conscience of the Eternal One! Your nostrils, whichwill dilate immeasurably in unspeakable contentment, in motionless ecstasy, will ask nothingbetter of space, for they will be full of fragrance as if of perfumes and incense; for they will beglutted with complete happiness, like angels who dwell in the peace and magnificence of pleasantHeaven.3I will state in a few lines that Maldoror was good during the first years of his life when he livedhappily. That is that. Then he noticed that he had been born evil: an extraordinary fatality! As faras he could, he hid his real character for a large number of years; but in the end, because of theconcentration this required, which did not come naturally to him, the blood used to rush to hishead every day; until, no longer able to bear such a life, he flung himself resolutely into a careerof evildoing...a sweet atmosphere! Who would have thought so! Whenever he kissed a little
 
pink-faced child, he felt like tearing open its cheeks with a razor, and he would have done so veryoften, had not Justice, with its long train of punishments, prevented him. He was no liar, admittedthe truth and said that he was cruel. Human beings, did you hear that? He dares to say it againwith his trembling pen. So it is a power stronger than will...Curse! Could a stone escape from thelaws of gravity? Impossible. Impossible, for evil to form an alliance with good. That is what I wassaying in the above lines.4There are those whose purpose in writing is, by means of the noble qualities of heart which theirimagination invents or which they themselves may have, to seek the plaudits of other humanbeings. For my part, I use my genius to depict the delights of cruelty: delights which are nottransitory or artificial; but which began with man and will end with him. Cannot genius be alliedwith cruelty in the secret resolutions of Providence? Or can one, being cruel, not have genius?The proof will be in my words. You have only to listen to me, if you wish...Excuse me, for amoment it seemed as if my hair was standing on end; but it is nothing, for I had no trouble inputting them back in place again with my hand. He who sings does not claim that is cavatinasare utterly unknown; on the contrary, he commends himself because his hero’s haughty andwicked thoughts are in all men.5Throughout my life, I have seen narrow-shouldered men, without a single exception, committinginnumerable stupid acts, brutalizing their fellows, and perverting souls by all means. They call themotive for their actions fame. Seeing these spectacles, I wanted to laugh like the others but Ifound that strange imitation impossible. I took a knife with a sharp steel cutting-edge on its bladeand slit my flesh where the lips join. For a moment I believed I had achieved my object. I lookedin a mirror at this mouth disfigured by an act of my own will It was a mistake! The blood flowingfrom the two wounds prevented me from discerning whether the laugh really was the same as theothers’. But after comparing them for a few moments I saw clearly that my laugh did notresemble that of human beings, i.e. I was not laughing at all. I have seen men, ugly men withtheir eyes sunk in dark sockets, surpassing the hardness of rock, the rigidity of cast steel, theinsolence of youth, the senseless rage of criminals, the falseness of the hypocrite, the mostextraordinary actors, the strength of character of priests, beings whose real character is the mostimpenetrable, colder than anything else in heaven or on earth; I have seen them wearing outmoralists who have attempted to discover their heart, and seen them bring upon themselvesimplacable anger from on high. I have seen them all now, the strongest fist raised towardsheaven, like a child already disobedient towards its mother, probably incited by some spirit fromhell, eyes full of the bitterest remorse, but at the same time of hatred; glacially silent, not daring toutter the vast ungrateful meditations hidden in their breasts, because those meditations were sofull of injustice and horror; I have seen them grieve the God of mercy in his compassion; andagain at the moment of the day, from their earliest childhood right up to the end of their old age, Ihave seen them uttering unbelievable anathemata, void of all common sense, against everythingwhich breathes, against themselves, and against Providence; prostituting women and children,thus dishonouring the parts of the body consecrated to modesty. Then, the waters of the seasrise up, engulfing ships in their bottomless depths; hurricanes and earthquakes level houses;plague and all kinds of diseases decimate families. But men do not realize this. I have seen themblushing, or turning pale for shame at their conduct on this earth—rarely. Tempests, sisters ofthe hurricanes; bluish firmament, whose beauty I refuse to acknowledge; hypocritical sea, imageof my own heart; earth, who hold mysteries hidden in your breast; the whole universe; God, whocreated it with such magnificence, it is thee I invoke; show me a man who is good...But at thesame time increase my strength tenfold; for at the sight of such a monster, I may die ofastonishment; men have died of less.6
 
 One should let one's nails grow for a fortnight. Oh! How sweet it is to brutally snatch from his beda child with no hair yet on his upper lip, and, with eyes wide open, to pretend to suavely stroke hisforehead, brushing back his beautiful locks! Then, suddenly, at the moment when he leastexpects it, to sink one's long nails into his tender breast, being careful, though, not to kill him; forif he died, there would be no later viewing of his misery. Then, one drinks the blood, licking thewounds; and, during the entire procedure, which ought to last no shorter than an aeon, the boycries. Nothing could be better than his blood, warm and just freshly squeezed out as I havedescribed, if it weren't for his tears, bitter as salt. Mortal one, haven't you ever tasted your blood,when by chance you cut your finger? Tasty, isn't it? For it has no taste. Besides, can you notrecall one day, absorbed in your dismal thoughts, having lifted your deeply cupped palm to yoursickly face, drenched by the downpour from your eyes; the said hand then making its fatal way toyour mouth, which, from this vessel chattering like the teeth of the schoolboy who glancessidelong at the one born to oppress him, sucked the tears in long draughts? Tasty, aren't they?For they taste of vinegar. A taste reminiscent of the tears of your true love, except a child's tearsare so much more pleasing to the palate. He is incapable of deceit, for he does not yet know evil:but the most loving of women is bound to betray sooner or later... This I deduce by analogy,despite my ignorance of what friendship means, what love means (I doubt I will ever accept eitherof these, at least not from the human race). So, since your blood and tears do not disgust you, goahead, feed confidently on the adolescent's tears and blood. Blindfold him, while you tear openhis quivering flesh; and, after listening to his resplendent squeals for a good few hours, similar tothose hoarse shrieks of death one hears from the throats of the mortally wounded on battlefields,you then, running out faster than an avalanche, fly back in from the room next door, pretending torush to his rescue. You untie his hands, with their swollen nerves and veins, you restore sight tohis distraught eyes, as you resume licking his tears and blood. Oh, what a genuine and noblechange of heart! That divine spark within us, which so rarely appears, is revealed; too late! Howthe heart longs to console the innocent one we have harmed. "O child, who has just undergonesuch cruel torture, who could have ever committed such an unspeakable crime upon you! Youpoor soul! The agony you must be going through! And if your mother were to know of this, shewould be no closer to death, so feared by evildoers, than I am now. Alas! What, then, are goodand evil? Might they be one and the same thing, by which in our furious rage we attest ourimpotence and our passionate thirst to attain the infinite by even the maddest means? Or mightthey be two separate things? Yes... they'd better be one and the same... for, if not, what shallbecome of me on the Day of Judgment? Forgive me, child. Here before your noble and sacredeyes stands the man who crushed your bones and tore off the strips of flesh dangling fromvarious parts of your body. Was it a frenzied inspiration of my delirious mind, was it a deep innerinstinct independent of my reason, such as that of the eagle tearing at its prey, that drove me tocommit this crime? And yet, as much as my victim, I suffered! Forgive me, child. Once we arefreed from this transient life, I want us to be entwined for evermore, becoming but one being, mymouth fused to your mouth. But even so, my punishment will not be complete. So you will tear atme, without ever stopping, with your teeth and nails at the same time. I will adorn and embalm mybody with perfumes and garlands for this expiatory holocaust; and together we shall suffer, I frombeing torn, you from tearing me... my mouth fused to yours. O blond-haired child, with your eyesso gentle, will you now do what I advise you? Despite yourself, I wish you to do it, and you will setmy conscience at rest." And in saying this, you will have wronged a human being and be loved bythat same being: therein lies the greatest conceivable happiness. Later, you could take him to thehospital, for the crippled boy will be in no condition to earn a living. They will proclaim you a hero,and centuries from now, laurel crowns and gold medals will cover your bare feet on your ancienticonic tomb. O you, whose name I will not inscribe upon this page consecrated to the sanctity ofcrime, I know your forgiveness was as boundless as the universe. But look, I'm still here!7I have made a pact with Prostitution to sow disorder in families. I remember the night whichpreceded this dangerous liaison. Before me I saw a tombstone. I heard a glow-worm, big as ahouse, say to me: “I will give you the light you need. Read the inscription. It is not from me that

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