While searching for images of Isidore Ducasse, I found this picture on a Maldoror website. I thought there was only one picture ever taken of the young man (the close up portrait as featured on this page. If you know anything about this picture or have knowledge of any other picture out there please email us at maldoror@spc.org and I will publish your pictures and answers below...

Colette Rouhier says: I think not! He may have the same flat bit of hair in the front but that could just have been the fashionable look of the day. Ducasse was tall and thin, this chap looks, dare I say it, Sporty! He hasn't got that edgy desperation of a genius. Besides, I can't imagine Isidore Ducasse stuffing his hands in his pockets.

Duncan Reekie says: I think it is him.. is it the same picture as the head and shoulders portrait?

Clive Shaw says: Nah. Nah nah, this character is too much of a dude.

"Yes, good folk, it is I who direct you to roast upon a red-hot shovel, with a little brown sugar, the duck of doubt with lips of vermouth, which, in a melancholy struggle between good and evil, shedding crocodile tears, without an air-pump everywhere brings about the universal vacuum. That is the best thing for you to do." Lautreamont

The Comte de Lautreamont, whose real name was Isidore Ducasse, wrote only one novel: 'Les Chants De Maldoror' which he published himself. He died a year later during the siege of Paris 1870, alone and anonymous in his hotel room at 7 Faubourg-Montmartre. He was twenty four years old. On his death certificate the cause of death was listed as unknown. In his work he had written that he would leave no memoirs and that he knew his annihilation would be complete.

But Lautreamont's modesty, like his work, was constructed from the most toxic and delicious irony for in Maldoror, he had built a subversive device, half virus, half bomb, that would erode and disintegrate western literature. In Maldoror, Lautreamont takes the form of the 19th century Romantic novel and reanimates it like a demon possessing a corpse. The Songs are composed of complex and unstable allegorical narrative, shocking juxtapositions of language and image, breathtaking shifts in tone and style, endless sentences that wind and swerve and even deny their own subjects. And throughout there is the voice of Lautreamont. Sometimes a charming confidant, sometimes a delirious mystic or a bombastic lecturer, a penitent sinner, an angel, a deranged killer, a poet, the author of Romantic literature. Or perhaps it is Isidore Ducasse.

Both high literature and penny dreadful, Maldoror used plagiarism and collage before Dada. It was beloved and imitated by the Surrealists, revered by the Situationists and it was both Modernist and Postmodernist before Modernism. As decades pass the myths, the claims and the counter claims around the work of Isidore Ducasse shift and expand. Maldoror denies definition, it is ambivalent and unfinished. It is still dangerous. The film Maldoror is only a fragment of the book, each filmmaker (mis) reading the text, the idea of the text mutating and hybridising. Our film is the continuation of the book by other means.

The translation used in the film, and the best translation in English is by Alexis Lykiard, Maldoror and Complete Works of the Comte de Lautreamont, Exact Change, Cambridge, MA., 1994.
ISBN 1-878972-12-X.

ISIDORE DUCASSE
as Remembered by
Paul Lespes

isidore ducasse

Interview by François Alicot,
Mecure de France
1 January 1928

Taken from Alexis Lykiard's
'Maldoror and the Complete Works of the Comte de Lautréamont'
with kind permission.

M. Paul Lespes, who was his schoolfellow at the Pau lycée, has retained a very clear recollection of Isidore Ducasse. I wanted to interview him in order to add to our knowledge of the author and his intellectual development and work an almost equally clear contribution dealing with Ducasse's early background and residence in France.
"I knew Ducasse at the Pau lycée in 1864," he told me. "He was with Minvielle and me in the fifth form, and in the same study. I can see him now, a tall thin young man, slightly round-shouldered, with a pale complexion, long hair falling across his forehead, his voice shrill. There was nothing attractive in his features.

He was usually cheerless and taciturn, withdrawn. Once or twice he talked to me in a lively manner about overseas countries where life was fee and happy.
In the classroom he would often spend whole hours, elbows propped on his desk, head in hads, and eyes staring at a textbook he just wasn't reading: you could see he was deep in reverie. I, like my friend Minvielle, thought he was homesick and that it would be best if his parents recalled him to Montevideo.

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