Alexander Dickow "Isidore Ducasse: A Strategy for Literary Misrecognition"
Isadore Ducasse was first known as the Count of Lautreamont, pseudonymic author of the Chants de Maldoror, a work glorifying the cruelty of its protagonist, the monstrous Maldoror. But Ducasse's second work, the Poesies, seems to make an about-face, declaring triumph of goodness and the high moral principles that ought to underpin every literary endeavor. This challenges the idea that writers seek to occupy a single "position" within a field of literature: Ducasse seem to occupy two diametrically opposed positions. Is such a reconciliation possible? And how are we to make sense of Ducasse/Lautreamont's apparently undecidable gesture? Many critics have suggested this work is in fact uninterpretable, yet the writer's contradictory gesture has guaranteed a permanent, if fraught, place in France's literary canon.
Dr. Alexander Dickow is the author of Caramboles, a collection of poems in French and English, and has published scholarship, poetry and translations in many journals abroad and in the United States. He teaches the language, literature and culture of France and Francophone countries at Virginia Tech.
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