Literature and Evil

Georges Bataille

Essays about the value of Evil in literature, not as a negation of conventional morality but as a means of attaining experience beyond morality. The writers considered include Baudelaire, Genet, Kafka, Blake, de Sade and Proust.

Publisher: Boyars
Paperback: 208 pages

My Mother, Madame Edwarda and the Dead Man

Georges Bataille

The novella My Mother, which remained unfinished but is concluded with Bataille’s posthumous notes, is about a young man’s sexual initiation and corruption by his mother. In Madame Edwarda, a man becomes erotically obsessed with an old whore who turns out to be God. The Dead Man recounts a young woman’s journey from the deathbed of a friend to orgiastic excesses in the taproom of a rural inn. Contains Bataille’s own introduction to the texts as well as an introductory essay by Yukio Mishima, who rated Bataille one of the three Western authors he most admired.

Publisher: Boyars
Paperback: 224 pages

On Nietzsche

Georges Bataille

Bataille’s bleak personal journals written while he was waiting out the Nazi occupation of France in the countryside, constructed as a dialogue between himself and excerpts from Nietzsche’s writings. Racked with self-doubt and far removed from the icy ecstasy of his idol’s words and his own later writings he noted: “Making my inner experience a project: doesn’t that result in a remoteness, on my part, from the summit that might have been?” SS

Publisher: Marlowe
Paperback: 256 pages

Story of the Eye

Georges Bataille

“The entire Story of the Eye was woven in my mind out of two ancient and closely associated obsessions, eggs and eyes.” First published in 1928 under the pseudonym “Lord Auch,” this brilliantly lyrical pornographic novel from the young Bataille forecasts his later theories about ecstasy, death and transgression in the form of sharply obsessive fantasies of excess, ritualistic violence and sexual extremes. “Thus two globes of equal size and consistency had suddenly been propelled in opposite directions at once. One, the white ball of the bull, had been thrust into the ‘pink and dark’ cunt that Simone had bared in the crowd; the other, a human eye, had spurted from Granero’s head with the same force as a bundle of innards from a belly. This coincidence, tied to death and to a sort of urinary liquefaction of the sky, first brought us back to Marcelle in a moment that was so brief and almost insubstantial, yet so uneasily vivid that I stepped forward like a sleepwalker as though about to touch her at eye level.”

Publisher: City Lights
Paperback: 92 pages

The Tears of Eros

Georges Bataille

The culmination of Bataille’s inquiries into the relationship between violence and the sacred. Taking up such figures as Gilles de Rais, Erzébet Báthory, the Marquis de Sade, El Greco, Gustave Moreau, André Breton, voodoo practitioners and Chinese torture victims, Bataille reveals their common obsession: death. This essay, illustrated with artworks from every era, examines the “little death” that follows sexual climax, the proximate death in sadomasochistic practices, and death as part of religious ritual and sacrifice.

Publisher: City Lights
Paperback: 213 pages

Theory of Religion

Georges Bataille

“Theory of Religion, along with its companion volumes of The Accursed Share, forms the cornerstone of Bataille’s ‘Copernican’ project to overturn not only economic thought but its ethical foundations as well… He proceeds to develop a ‘general economy’ of man’s relation to this intimacy: from the seamless immanence of animality, to the shattered world of objects, and the partial, ritual recovery of the intimate order through the violence of the sacrifice. Bataille then reflects on the archaic festival in which he sees not only the glorious affirmation of life through destructive consumption but also the seeds of another, more ominous order—war. Bataille then traces the rise of the modern military order in which production ceases to be oriented toward the destruction of a surplus and violence is no longer deployed inwardly but is turned to the outside. In these twin developments may be seen the origins of modern capitalism.”

Publisher: Zone
Paperback: 127 pages

The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism

Nick Land

“An accomplished sociologist, philosopher, literary theorist and fiction writer, who referred to himself as ‘saint, perhaps a madman,’ Georges Bataille made a habit of exploding the categories which we use to impose order upon the business of everyday life. This strange, yet lucidly written book is not so much an interpretation of Bataille’s work but rather a no-holds-barred attempt to pursue Bataille’s ideas to their conclusions. The result is an analysis of Bataille through the application of his style of thought and ideas rather than through conventional argument.”

Publisher: Routledge
Paperback: 272 pages

The Trial of Gilles de Rais

Georges Bataille

Bataille presents the case of the most infamous villain of the Middle Ages, Gilles de Rais. He examines with dispassionate clarity the legendary crimes, trials and confessions of this grotesque and still-horrifying 15th-century child-murderer, sadist, alchemist, necrophile and practitioner of the black arts. Gilles de Rais began his remarkable career as lieutenant to the devout martyr and saint Joan of Arc; after her execution he fled to his estates in the countryside of France, where he began to ritually slaughter hundreds of children. After his arrest and subsequent trials, he was hanged and burned at Nantes, France, on October 25, 1440. The latter section of The Trial of Gilles de Rais consists of actual ecclesiastical and secular trial transcripts annotated by Bataille and translated from the ecclesiastical Latin by Pierre Klossowski.

Publisher: Amok
Paperback: 281 pages

Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939

Georges Bataille

“It is in this collection of prewar writings that Bataille’s positions are most clearly, forcefully and obsessively put forward. Included are Bataille’s polemics against André Breton; his conception of his own project as a kind of intellectual offal defying both idealism and traditional materialism; the rethinking of Marxism; the revalorization of de Sade and Nietzsche; the unrelenting critique of fascism and of a reductive Hegelian dialectic… In the process, he comes to recognize the need for a ‘science of the heterogeneous” that posits what is, strictly speaking, impossible: the individual and collective experience of the unassimilable waste products of the individual body, of society, of thought and of bourgeois industrial economies. Excrement, madness, poetry, automutilation, mystical trances, obscenity, unlimited proletarian revolution—all are taken up in these writings and considered in the context of an expenditure moving beyond all bounds.”

Publisher: University of Minnesota
Paperback: 271 pages

The Whip Angels

Anonymous (Diane Bataille)

Hardcore filth by Georges’ wife! And the crowd goes wild! This was originally published by the Paris Olympia Press in 1955 using one of the shortest (and finest) pseudonyms in the history of smut: “XXX.” Why it was written is anybody’s guess. It was published seven years before the death of Georges Bataille, at a point when he had conquered most of the controversy and arrived at the position of a grand old guy of letters, complete with the appropriate financial security, so it wasn’t like they needed the money… .Neither Kearney, De St. Jorre nor Girodias have much more than this to say about the book in any of the tomes on Olympia. JK

Publisher: Creation
Paperback: 192 pages