Le Comte de Lautr+¬amont was the nom de plume of Isidore Ducasse (1846–70), a Uruguayan-born French writer and poet whose only surviving major work of fiction, Les Chants de Maldoror, was discovered by the Surrealists, who hailed the work as a dark progenitor of their movement. It was in Les Chants de Maldoror that Andr+¬ Breton discovered the phrase that would come to represent the Surrealist doctrine of objective chance: “as beautiful as the random encounter between an umbrella and a sewing-machine upon a dissecting-table.”
Artists inspired by Lautr+¬amont include Man Ray, Ren+¬ Magritte, Max Ernst, Andr+¬ Masson, Joan Mir+¦, Yves Tanguy and, in particular, Salvador Dal+¡, who in 1933 produced an entire series of illustrations for Les Chants de Maldoror. Twenty of those illustrations are included, for the first time, in this new, definitive edition of Lautr+¬amont’s influential masterpiece. Vividly translated by R. J. Dent—the first new translation for over thirty years—this edition also includes a foreword by French Surrealist poet Paul Eluard and a concise biography of the author by poet Jeremy Reed. In addition, an introduction by series editor Candice Black details the links between Maldoror and the Surrealist movement.