comte de lautréamont


comte de lautréamont. in april and june, 1870, under his real name isidore lucien ducasse, published the first two installments of what was obviously meant to be the preface to the planned ‘chants of the good’ in two small brochures, poésies i and ii. he differentiated the two parts of his work with the terms philosophy and poetry, was the reversal of his other work. the songs of maldoror a prose poem consisting of six cantos written between 1868 and 1869. a famous line in the 6th canto, lautréamont describes a young boy as ‘beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella

in 1917, french writer philippe soupault discovered a copy of les chants de maldoror in the mathematics section of a small parisian bookshop, near the military hospital in during the war. it was given to breton to read after avidly reading it twice night and day. in 1919 breton and philippe soupault wrote the first automatic book, les champs magnétiques. seen by the surrealists themselves as their precursor. they saw in this literary montage a way in which their own joint concerns with automatic writing and cubist collage could be brought into  productive collision.   their interest in lautréamont was such that they were responsible for finding and re publishing the only copy of his lost work  Poésies I and II.

in a work intended as a negation of his previous work Ducasse took texts by famous authors and cleverly inverted, corrected and actively plagiarized them: plagiarism is necessary. It is implied in the idea of progress. It clasps the author’s sentence tight, uses his expressions, eliminates a false idea, replaces it with the right idea.   among the works plagiarized were blaise pascal’s pensées and la rochefoucauld’s maximes, as well as the work of jean de la bruyère, marquis de vauvenargues, dante, kant and la fontaine. it even included an improvement of his own les chants de maldoror. the reader could negociate a price for the work – each could decide which sum they wanted to pay for it.

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