Animality and Humanity in the Chants of Maldoror
“The Chants of Maldoror” is a work of fiction by Comte de Lautreamont (1846-1870). It is a depiction of a sadistic and sinister world full of brutal and savage beings. The main character in the book is Maldoror who is being pursued by the police since he is the very incarnation of all that is evil. Maldoror has effectively become a master of disguise following his going through realms with all kinds of prostitutes, angels, gravediggers, lunatics, hermaphrodites, and children with strange children.
The animality in this book is unrivaled. The author describes incidences of child molestation to such an extent that the reader winces at the imagination of that picture. To make matters worse, there is a description of a scene in which an angel is tortured. There are many other cases in which the author describes the ideas or activities of Maldoror in a way that largely speaks of brutality and savagery.
On the other hand, the author seems to struggle with the idea of humanity. Comte allows his characters to easily morph between humans and animals and depict the characteristics of both. In this way, he intends to portray humans as possessing the ability to act in ways not thought of before. Human beings are associated with rationality and sense in most of their actions. On the other hand, animals are associated with brutality and a lack of thought before acting. In his book, Comte brings out the human impulse towards violence and destabilizes the norm as it is known.
Comte de Lautreamont. Maldoror and the Complete Works of the Comte de Lautreamont.Exact Change. 1994.