Books

Eroticism

Georges Bataille (and others)

A philosopher, essayist, novelist, pornographer and fervent Catholic who came to regard the brothels of Paris as his true 'churches', Georges Bataille ranks among the boldest and most disturbing of twentieth-century thinkers. In this influential study he links the underlying sexual basis of religion to death, offering a dazzling array of insights into incest, prostitution, marriage, murder, sadism, sacrifice and violence, as well as including comments on Freud, Sade and Saint Theresa. Everywhere, Eroticism argues, sex is surrounded by taboos, which we must continually transgress in order to overcome the sense of isolation that faces us all.

Blue of Noon

Georges Bataille (and others)

Set against the backdrop of Europe's slide into Fascism, Blue of Noon is a blackly compelling account of depravity and violence. As its narrator lurches despairingly from city to city in a surreal sexual and mental nightmare of squalor, sadism and drunken encounters, his internal collapse mirrors the fighting and marching on the streets outside. Exploring the dark forces beneath the surface of civilization, this is a novel torn between identifying with history's victims and being seduced by the monstrous glamour of its terrible victors, and is one of the twentieth century's great nihilist works.

My Mother, Madame Edwarda, The Dead Man

Georges Bataille

In these three works of erotic prose Georges Bataille fuses sex and spirituality in a highly personal and philosophical vision of the self. My Mother is a frank and intense depiction of a young man's sexual initiation and corruption by his mother, where the profane becomes sacred, and intense experience is shown as the only way to transcend the boundaries of society and morality. Madame Edwarda is the story of a prostitute who calls herself God, and The Dead Man, published in 1964 after Bataille's death, is a startling short tale of cruelty and desire. This volume also contains Bataille's own introductions to his texts as well as essays by Yukio Mishima and Ken Hollings.

L'Abbé C

Georges Bataille

L'Abbé C is a shocking, unnerving narrative about the intense and terrifying relationship between twin brothers. Charles is a modern libertine, dedicated to vice and depravity, while Robert is a priest so devout that he is nicknamed 'l'Abbé'. When the sexually wild Eponine intrudes upon their suffocating relationship, anguish, delirium, and death ensue. Charged with sensuality and a heightened, dreamlike atmosphere, this novel portrays the darkest and most profound aspects of human experience.

Literature and Evil

Georges Bataille (and others)

'Literature is not innocent,' stated Georges Bataille in this extraordinary 1957 collection of essays, arguing that only by acknowledging its complicity with the knowledge of evil can literature communicate fully and intensely. These literary profiles of eight authors and their work, including Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal and the writings of Sade, Kafka and Sartre, explore subjects such as violence, eroticism, childhood, myth and transgression, in a work of rich allusion and powerful argument.

Story of the Eye

Georges Bataille (and others)

A masterpiece of transgressive, surrealist erotica, George Bataille's Story of the Eye was the Fifty Shades of Grey of its era. This Penguin Modern Classics edition is translated by Joachim Neugroschal, and published with essays by Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes.

Bataille's first novel, published under the pseudonym 'Lord Auch', is still his most notorious work. In this explicit pornographic fantasy, the young male narrator and his lovers Simone and Marcelle embark on a sexual quest involving sadism, torture, orgies, madness and defilement, culminating in a final act of transgression. Shocking and sacrilegious, Story of the Eye is the fullest expression of Bataille's obsession with the closeness of sex, violence and death. Yet it is also hallucinogenic in its power, and is one of the erotic classics of the twentieth century.

This edition also includes Susan Sontag's superb study of pornography as art, 'The Pornographic Imagination', as well as Roland Barthes' essay 'The Metaphor of the Eye'.

Georges Bataille (1897-1962), French essayist and novelist, was born in Billom, France. He converted to Catholicism, then later to Marxism, and was interested in psychoanalysis and mysticism, forming a secret society dedicated to glorifying human sacrifice. Leading a simple life as the curator of a municipal library, Bataille was involved on the fringes of Surrealism, founding the Surrealist magazine Documents in 1929, and editing the literary review Critique from 1946 until his death. Among his other works are the novels Blue of Noon (1957) and My Mother (1966), and the essays Eroticism (1957) and Literature and Evil (1957).

If you enjoyed Story of the Eye, you might like Anaïs Nin's Delta of Venus, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'His black masterpiece ... [a] brilliant, exquisitely fetishistic tale of sexual agitaion'
New Statesman

Biography

Georges Bataille, French essayist and novelist, was born in 1897. He converted to Catholicism, then to Marxism, and was interested in psychoanalysis and mysticism. As curator of the municipal library in Orleans, he led a relatively simple life, although he became involved, usually on the fringes, with the surrealist movement. He founded the literary review Critique in 1946, which he edited until his death in 1962, and was also a founder of the review Documents, which published many of the leading surrealist writers. His writing is a mixture of poetry and philosophy, fantasy and history, and his first novel, Story of the Eye, was written under the pseudonym of Lord Auch. Bataille's other works include the novels Blue of Noon and My Mother, and the volumes of essays Eroticism and Literature and Evil.