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Isidore: A Novel About the Comte de Lautreamont Hardcover – November 18, 1992

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Isidore Ducasse, better known by his literary moniker, the Comte de Lautreamont, left only one significant work, Les Chants de Maldoror , but that convulsive experimental novel gained him permanent entrance to the modernist pantheon. Otherwise, we know almost nothing of this Surrealist prodigy, who died in 1871 at the age of 23, having destroyed all his personal papers. In this fictionalized biography, English poet Reed has embellished the scant traces of Ducasse's life--his childhood in Paraguay, his membership in the Parisian netherworld--into a hallucinatory replica of the decadent imagination in full fever. Well received on its publication in England, Isidore extends the genre of self-conscious literature we associate with Anthony Burgess and Julian Barnes, among English authors. Poetry lovers will be taken with Reed's lush prose and musky psychological perfumes; diehard bohemians will sway dreamily to its strains of Baudelaire and Poe. A clever and unsettling performance.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Reed is a poet of rich and subversive imagery. In identifying himself with Lautreamont, he succeeds in an uncanny impersonation of the style of that morbid youth. -- The Times

Superb - Jeremy Reed convincingly becomes Isidore Ducasse in this brilliant and exotic re-creation of the world of The Songs of Maldoror...this extraordinary and poetic text. Enthralling and entertaining from first to last. -- J G Ballard --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Owen Ltd; First Edition edition (November 18, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0720608317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0720608311
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,812,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Biographical information about the elusive Isidore Ducasse,
a writer whom Andre Breton referred to as "a contemporary,
one who was among us, yet we know less about him than we
do about Dante, Shakespeare or Homer," is sketchy at best.
This makes Reed's novel a risky venture, while at the same
time leaving him a great deal of imaginative freedom. His
writing is so compelling, and the voice of Ducasse, also
known as le Comte de Lautreamont, so strong, that at times
you'll find yourself thinking, This is the way it must have
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Format: Hardcover
this fictitious yet engrossing and beautifully written biography of young isidore ducasse, the comte de lautreamont, author of the bizarre and slightly twisted "maldoror" and surrealist precursor par excellance (perhaps even surpassing rimbaud?), will keep the imaginative reader riveted and glued to it from start to finish. reed has an uncanny ability to 'hit the nail on the head', and we (or at least I) always get the sense that his portrayals of his poetic idols and heroes are not that far off the mark, although there is no way to know this to a certainty. we do know that lautreamont was a withdrawn, odd youth who frightened his classmates, very rarely spoke, and had virtually no companions either at the lycee or in paris, where he was to die at age 24. reed's ducasse is a rebellious, brilliant, and poetic genius with lofty feelings of contempt for humanity and a love for the creative imagination, which allows man to transform the banality and monotony of dull everyday reality into something more beautiful and aesthetic. and all of it comes off smoothly, never becoming pretentious or too fanciful. the only weakness lies in reed's botched attempts to explore 'the duality of identity', and explore lautreamont's supposedly schizophrenic nature. to my mind this assists in perpetuating false myths about the author which cannot be verified in any way whatever. from ducasse's letters to his father, his banker, etc, we see not the dionysian monster maldoror but a young man quite capable of being cool, rational, socially interactive and charming. not one word betrays even a touch of mental disturbance or inadaptability.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I hunted this book down through what seemed virtually every bookstore in Manhattan until I finally found it used at the Strand. Having read Reed's amazing erotic classic, The Pleasure Chateau, & seeing how much Lautremont had influenced his style in that book, I was certain that a book by Reed dealing directly with Lautremont himself would be something extraordinary. I was extremely disappointed to read this dull, minutely over-analyzed fictionalized *report* on Lautremont's not-all-that-interesting comings & goings, relationship with his father, etc. Perhaps if I hadnt had such high expectations for the book I would have liked it better, but somehow I doubt that, for I wasnt even compelled to finish it. For that reason alone, I give it two stars, figuring it would be unfair under the circumstances to give it any less...and on the chance that Reed, who I still admire greatly for The Pleasure Chateau, might have done *something* of interest, eventually, with this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The implication here is that in this book--told from the point of view of the brilliant Isidore Ducasse, the future writer of Maldoror--Jeremy Reed will show the reader that he is quite up to the task of reproducing the mad, visionary, surreal style of the original. He isn't. What he does deliver is 144 pages of clotted prose seasoned with hints, guesses, a few facts, a few interesting tropes. Skip this book and go directly to the original, or, if you can't read French, purchase the Complete Works in the Lykiyard translation from Exact Change Publishers. The difference between this book and Maldoror is the difference between watered-down tea and the finest Cognac, no matter what J.G. Ballard says on the back cover.
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