Insolent and defiant, the Chants de Maldoror, by the self-styled Comte de Lautreamont (1846-70), depicts a sinister and sadistic world of unrestrained savagery and brutality. One of the earliest and most astonishing examples of surrealist writing, it follows the experiences of Maldoror, a master of disguises pursued by the police as the incarnation of evil, as he makes his way through a nightmarish realm of angels and gravediggers, hermaphrodites and prostitutes, lunatics and strange children. Delirious, erotic, blasphemous and grandiose by turns, this hallucinatory novel captured the imagination of artists and writers as diverse as Modigliani, Verlaine, Andre Gide and Andre Breton; it was hailed by the twentieth-century Surrealist movement as a formative and revelatory masterpiece.
Lautreamont (1846-1870) was the pseudonym for French poet Isidore-Lucien Ducasse. Born in Uruguay, Lautreamont is best known for his Maldoror and Poems, published in 1869. Maldoror and Poems is considered one of the earliest examples of surrealist writing. While Lautreamont died a rather unknown writer, his work went on to deeply inspire French surrealists such as Andre Breton. Paul Knight is a staff writer at Texas Monthly. His work has also appeared in the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Press, the New York Times, and the Texas Observer. He has won national awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. A graduate of the University of North Texas, he lives in Austin.