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Comte de Lautréamont

Comte de Lautréamont Comte de Lautréamont[2†]

Comte de Lautréamont, whose real name was Isidore Lucien Ducasse, was born on April 4, 1846, in Montevideo, Uruguay[1†][2†]. He was a French poet recognized as a major influence on the Surrealists[1†][2†]. His only works, “Les Chants de Maldoror” and “Poésies”, had a significant impact on modern arts and literature, particularly on the Surrealists and the Situationists[1†][2†]. Ducasse died at the age of 24 on November 24, 1870, in Paris, France[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Isidore Lucien Ducasse, known as Comte de Lautréamont, was born on April 4, 1846, in Montevideo, Uruguay[1†][2†]. He was the son of a chancellor in the French consulate[1†][2†]. Very little is known about his childhood, except that he was baptized on November 16, 1847, in the Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral[1†][2†]. His mother died soon afterwards, possibly due to an epidemic[1†][2†].

In October 1859, at the age of thirteen, Ducasse was sent to France for schooling[1†][2†][3†]. He studied at the imperial lycées in Tarbes from 1859 to 1862 and in Pau from 1863 to 1865[1†][2†][3†]. During his school years, he excelled at arithmetic and drawing and showed extravagance in his thinking and style[1†][2†]. He was a reader of Edgar Allan Poe and particularly favored Percy Bysshe Shelley and Byron, as well as Adam Mickiewicz, Milton, Robert Southey, Alfred de Musset, and Baudelaire[1†][2†]. At school, he was fascinated by Racine and Corneille, and by the scene of the blinding in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex[1†][2†].

In 1867, Ducasse set out for Paris, ostensibly to attend the École Polytechnique[1†][2†]. However, he disappeared into obscurity[1†][2†].

Career Development and Achievements

After a brief stay with his father in Montevideo, Ducasse settled in Paris at the end of 1867[2†]. He began studies in view of entering the École Polytechnique, only to abandon them one year later[2†]. Continuous allowances from his father made it possible for Ducasse to dedicate himself completely to his writing[2†]. He lived in the “Intellectual Quarter”, in a hotel in the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, where he worked intensely on the first canto of Les Chants de Maldoror[2†]. It is possible that he started this work before his passage to Montevideo, and also continued the work during his ocean journey[2†].

Ducasse was a frequent visitor to nearby libraries, where he read Romantic literature, as well as scientific works and encyclopedias[2†]. The first stanza of Lautréamont’s prose poem Les Chants de Maldoror was published anonymously in 1868[2†][1†][2†]. A complete edition was printed in 1869, but the Belgian publisher, alarmed by its violence and fearing prosecution, refused to distribute it to booksellers[2†][1†][2†]. The Poésies, a shorter work, was printed in June 1870[2†][1†][2†]. Lautréamont died in Paris later that same year, possibly a victim of the police during the Siege of Paris[2†][1†][2†].

Maldoror was republished in 1890[2†][1†]. The work received little notice until the Surrealists, struck by its disquieting juxtaposition of strange and unrelated images, adopted Lautréamont as one of their exemplars[2†][1†]. Above all it was the savagery of protest in Maldoror, as if revolt against the human condition had achieved definitive blasphemy, that created a ferment among the poets and painters of the early 20th century[2†][1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Comte de Lautréamont, or Isidore Lucien Ducasse, is known for his two significant works: “Les Chants de Maldoror” and "Poésies"[2†][1†][4†][3†][5†].

Both of these works had a profound impact on modern arts and literature, particularly on the Surrealists and the Situationists[2†][1†][4†][3†][5†]. They are recognized for their influence on modern literature and their contribution to the development of surrealism[2†][1†][4†][3†][5†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Comte de Lautréamont’s work, particularly “Les Chants de Maldoror” and “Poésies”, had a profound influence on modern arts and literature[1†][2†][6†][3†][7†]. His writings are recognized for their disquieting juxtaposition of strange and unrelated images[1†][2†][6†][3†][7†]. This unique style of writing, often described as the first surrealist book[1†][3†], was adopted by the Surrealists as one of their exemplars[1†][2†][6†][3†][7†].

The savagery of protest in “Maldoror”, as if revolt against the human condition had achieved definitive blasphemy, created a ferment among the poets and painters of the early 20th century[1†][2†][6†][3†][7†]. His work is often characterized by its unrestrained savagery and menace, and the startling imagery – delirious, erotic, blasphemous and grandiose by turns – possesses a remarkable hallucinatory quality[1†][6†].

One of the most quoted lines from his work, “As beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella”, exemplifies his poetic leaps of logic and his use of black humor[1†][7†]. This line, in particular, bewildered his contemporaries but later captured the imagination of the Surrealists[1†][7†].

In conclusion, Comte de Lautréamont’s work, with its unique style and imagery, had a significant impact on modern literature and arts, particularly influencing the Surrealists and the Situationists[1†][2†][6†][3†][7†].

Personal Life

Isidore Lucien Ducasse, known as Comte de Lautréamont, was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, to François Ducasse, a French consular officer, and his wife Jacquette-Célestine Davezac[2†][8†]. Tragically, his mother died shortly after his birth, possibly due to an epidemic[2†]. There is also a suggestion that she may have committed suicide, although there is no definitive evidence to support this claim[2†].

Ducasse was raised by his father and was brought up speaking three languages: French, Spanish, and English[2†]. At the age of thirteen, he was sent to high school in France[2†]. He was trained in French education and technology at the Imperial Lycée in Tarbes[2†][1†]. In 1863, he enrolled in the Lycée Louis-Barthou in Pau, where he attended classes in rhetoric and philosophy[2†]. He excelled at arithmetic and drawing and showed extravagance in his thinking and style[2†].

After graduation, he lived in Tarbes, where he started a friendship with Georges Dazet, the son of his guardian, and decided to become a writer[2†]. After a brief stay with his father in Montevideo, Ducasse settled in Paris at the end of 1867[2†][1†]. He began studies in view of entering the École Polytechnique, only to abandon them one year later[2†][1†]. Continuous allowances from his father made it possible for Ducasse to dedicate himself completely to his writing[2†].

Ducasse lived in the “Intellectual Quarter”, in a hotel in the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, where he worked intensely on the first canto of Les Chants de Maldoror[2†]. It is possible that he started this work before his passage to Montevideo, and also continued the work during his ocean journey[2†].

Ducasse died at the young age of 24 on November 24, 1870, in Paris, France[2†][1†][5†]. The cause of his death is not definitively known, but there is speculation that he may have been a victim of the police during the Siege of Paris[2†][1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Comte de Lautréamont, born Isidore Lucien Ducasse, left an indelible mark on the world of literature despite his short life[1†][2†]. His works, “Les Chants de Maldoror” and “Poésies”, had a profound influence on modern arts and literature, particularly on the Surrealists and the Situationists[1†][2†][9†][10†][5†]. His unique style and innovative approach to poetry have continued to inspire and influence artists and writers long after his death[1†][2†][9†][10†][5†].

Lautréamont’s works, rediscovered in the 20th century by the surrealists, foreshadowed the tragic floundering of Western European poetry in its course from symbolism to futurism[1†][9†]. Both the modernist and the realistic traditions of modern French poetry (P. Eluard, L. Aragon) proceed from Lautréamont’s work[1†][9†]. Above all, it was the savagery of protest in Maldoror, as if revolt against the human condition had achieved definitive blasphemy, that created a ferment among the poets and painters of the early 20th century[1†].

Despite his early death, Lautréamont’s legacy continues to resonate in the world of literature. His work is recognized for its disquieting juxtaposition of strange and unrelated images, and his unique style continues to inspire modern artists and writers[1†][2†][9†][10†][5†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Comte de Lautréamont: French author [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Comte de Lautréamont [website] - link
  3. New World Encyclopedia - Comte de Lautreamont [website] - link
  4. Wikiwand - Comte de Lautréamont - Wikiwand [website] - link
  5. Goodreads - Author: Comte de Lautréamont (Author of Les Chants de Maldoror) [website] - link
  6. Goodreads - Book: Maldoror and Poems [website] - link
  7. Google Books - Maldoror & the Complete Works of the Comte de Lautreamont - comte de Lautréamont [website] - link
  8. Literary Kicks - Lautréamont, the Other [website] - link
  9. The Free Dictionary - Comte de Lautréaumont [website] - link
  10. Pantheon - Comte de Lautréamont Biography - Uruguayan-born French author (1846–1870) [website] - link
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