Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror) is a poetic novel consisting of six cantos. It was written between 1868 and 1869 by the Comte de Lautréamont, the pseudonym of Isidore Lucien Ducasse. Many of the surrealists (Salvador Dalí, André Breton, Antonin Artaud, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Max Ernst, etc.) during the early 1900s cited the novel as a major inspiration to their own works and Les Chants de Maldoror, and its protagonist Maldoror, have continued to fascinate people since its publication.
One of the earliest and most extraordinary examples of Surrealist writing, 'Les Chants de Maldoror' unveils a world, half vision, half nightmare, of angels and gravediggers, hermaphrodites and homosexuals, madmen and strange children. As a sublime misfit wandering through a dream universe, Maldoror observes human evil and kindness, and through Lautreaumont's metaphysical anguish, the outrage and violence of our own age is expressed in many ways.
'Maldoror' has now won acceptance as a classic of French literature, but because of the lack of good translation has remained virtually unknown to the American reader. Poet and novelist Alexis Lykiard has captured all the macabre beauty of the original without any sacrifice of meaning or accuracy.