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Bataillean books

Lifespan: Georges Bataille - bibliography

Works (fiction): L'Histoire de L'Oeil (1928) - Solar Anus (1927/1931) - Georges Bataille - Madame Edwarda (1941) - Ma Mère (1966)

Works (non-fiction): Erotism : Death and Sensuality (1957) - Tears of Eros (1961)

Further reading

  • Georges Bataille: An Intellectual Biography (1987) - Michel Surya [Amazon.com]
    Michel Surya is a writer, philosopher, editor and director of the journal Lignes. The French edition of this book was awarded the Prix Goncourt for biography.

    It was a life of extreme solitude and, ultimately, disappointment. He never became the respected writer he dreamed of becoming. As Surya points out, Bataille was envious of André Breton's celebrity and covetous of his position as leader of the Surrealists, yet he refused to join them, preferring to carp from the sidelines. Breton thought he went too far in embracing filth and corruption. "Mr Bataille loves flies," he said. "Not we." So Bataille remained on Surrealism's fringes, a buzzing fly that would not go away.-- Ian Pindar

    there were several Georges Batailles. There was the controversial author who wrote about eroticism and death. There was the elegant librarian at the Bibliothèque Nationale, unfailingly courteous, with "lovely blue eyes". And there was the philosopher who nurtured the idea of writing an impossible "universal history", elements of which are traceable in Sovereignty and, surely his most impressive work, The Accursed Share. --Ian Pindar

  • Literature and Evil () - Georges Bataille [Amazon.com]
    "Literature is not innocent," Bataille declares in the preface to this unique collection of literary profiles. "It is guilty and should admit itself so." The word, the flesh, and the devil are explored by this extraordinary intellect in the work of eight outstanding authors: Emily Bronte, Baudelaire, Blake, Michelet, Kafka, Proust, Genet and De Sade. --Book description via Amazon.com

  • On Nietzsche (1945) - Georges Bataille [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Originally published in 1945 as Sur Nietzsche, this is a 1994 translation with added content.

    “An absorbing and illuminating read for persons with a philosophical and literary turn of mind.”–Small Press Book Review

    “One of the most original and unsettling of those thinkers who, in the wake of Sade and Nietzsche, have confronted the possibility of thought in a world that has lost its myth of transcendence.”–Peter Brooks, The New York Times Book Review

    “Bataille’s entire work deals with the experience of the edge, that is living at the very limits of life, at the extreme...Bataille’s books exert a fascination that never ceases.”–Bloomsbury Review

    “(Bataille’s) writing is superlative...daringly imaginative, intended only for those awake and aware of the possibilities of excess–in literature and life. Along with Celine and Breton, Bataille writes as if he were dropping a bomb.”–Detroit Free Press

    Hailed by Martin Heidegger as “one of France’s best minds,” Georges Bataille has become increasingly recognized and respected in the realm of academic and popular intellectual thought. Although Bataille died in 1962, interest in his life and writings have never been as strong as they are today–Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and Kristeva have all acknowledged their debt to him. In his book, On Nietzsche, as translated by Bruce Boone, Bataille comes as close as he would ever come to formulating his own unique system of philosophy.

    One could say that reading Nietzsche was something of a revelation to Bataille, and profoundly affected his life. In 1915, in a crisis of guilt after leaving his blind father in the hands of the Germans, Bataille converted to Catholicism. It was Nietzsche’s work that lead him to abandon traditional religion for an idiosyncratic form of godless mysticism. In this volume, Bataille becomes, and goes beyond, Nietzsche, assuming Nietzsche’s thought where he left off–with God’s death. At the heart of this work is Bataille’s exploration of how one can have a spiritual life outside religion.

    On Nietzsche is essentially a journal that brilliantly mixes observations with ruminations in fragments, aphorisms, poems, myths, quotations, and images against the background of World War II and the German occupation. Bataille has a unique way of moving breezily from abstraction to confession, and from theology to eroticism. He skillfully weaves together his own internal experience of anguish with the war and destruction raging outside with arguments against fascist interpretations of Nietzsche and praise for the philosopher as a prophet foretelling “the crude German fate.” With an introduction, “Furiously Nietzschean,” by Sylvere Lotringer, an Appendix in which Bataille defends himself against Sartre, and an Index, this volume reconfirms Michel Foucault’s assertion that Bataille, “broke with traditional narrative to tell us what has never been told before.” --via the publisher Paragon House

  • Accursed Share, Vol. 1: Consumption () - Georges Bataille [Amazon US]
    Bataille, a leading writer in France from the 1930s to his death in 1962, offers here nothing less than a new theory of civilization. Economists usually emphasize scarcity: limited means must be carefully allotted to serve conflicting ends. Bataille dissents: in his view, much more energy lies available than societies can use. The surplus energy must be dissipated; historically, this was accomplished through war and spending on luxuries. Though Bataille's eye for vivid detail is evident, his theory appears more valuable as a framework for his dazzling literary skills than a contribution to knowledge. Probably of greater interest to students of French literature than to economists or historians. David Gordon, Bowling Green St. Univ., Ohio Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    Most Anglo-American readers know Bataille as a novelist. The Accursed Share provides an excellent introduction to Bataille the philosopher. Here he uses his unique economic theory as the basis for an incisive inquiry into the very nature of civilization. Unlike conventional economic models based on notions of scarcity, Bataille's theory develops the concept of excess: a civilization, he argues, reveals its order most clearly in the treatment of its surplus energy. The result is a brilliant blend of ethics, aesthetics, and cultural anthropology that challenges both mainstream economics and ethnology.

  • Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939 ()- Georges Bataille [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Visions of Excess is the collection that, in Supervert's opinion, contains some of Bataille's best texts: "The Use Value of D.A.F. de Sade," "The Solar Anus," "The Big Toe," "The Practice of Joy Before Death," and others. This is the must-have book for fans of Bataille. --supervert.com

  • My Mother, Madame Edwarda and The Dead Man () by Georges Bataille [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Book Description
    My Mother is a unique bildungsroman of a young man's sexual initiation and corruption by his mother.?Publishers Weekly

    My Mother, Madame Edwarda and The Dead Man comprises three short pieces of erotic prose that fuse elements of sex and spirituality in a highly personal vision of the flesh. They present a world of sensation in which only the vaulting demands of disruptive excess and the anguish of heightened awareness can combat the stultifying world of reason and social order. Each of the narratives contains a sense of intoxication and insanity so carefully delineated by the author that it seems to infect the reader.

    Philosopher, novelist and critic, Georges Bataille is a major figure in twentieth-century literature whose startling and original ideas increasingly exert a vital influence on the shaping of thought, language and experience. Best known outside France for the vertiginous sexual delirium of his short novel, Story of the Eye, the vast scope of Bataille's interests and intellect made him a major force in many spheres.

    Bataille's essays range over such diverse topics as economics, psychoanalysis, Marxism, yoga and anthropology. His critical essays, Literature and Evil and his complex meditations on the dark coupling of sex and death, Eroticism, are both available from Marion Boyars. Bataille's available fiction includes L'Abbe C, a twisted document detailing the holy horrors of sex and Blue of Noon, now an established modern classic in its seventh printing. --via Amazon.com

    Blue of Noon (1935/1957) - Georges Bataille

    Blue of Noon (1935/1957) - Georges Bataille
    [FR] [DE] [UK]

    ...written in 1935 but only published twenty-two years later (Paris: Pauvert, 1957).

    Takes the reader on a journey through pre-war French intelligentsia. A book which explores the ambiguity of sex and the fetishes of violence, power and death.

    Set against the backdrop of Europe's slide into Fascism, "Blue of Noon" is one of Bataille's most overtly political works, exploring the ambiguity of sex as a subversive force and synthesising the fetishes of violence, power and death that mesmerized an age. In this classic of twentieth century eroticism, the reader is taken on a dark journey through the psyche of the pre-war French intelligentsia, torn between identification with the victims of history and the glamour of its victors. [Sept 2006]

    The protagonist Troppmann is impotent, forcing him to explore his insatiable appetites by other means --1001 Books

    More Bataillian books

    Some books translated into English by Bataille. This post inspired by a 2003 post by Spurious on Bataille's (who hid Walter Benjamin's manuscript of Paris Arcades in the Parisian Bibliothèque Nationale when Benjamin fled from the Germans to Spain) time during WWII:

    The Collected Poems of Georges Bataille (1999) - Georges Bataille, Mark Spitzer [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    The Wall
    A hatchet
    give me a hatchet
    so I can frighten myself
    with my shadow on the wall
    feeling of emptiness

    Inner Experience (1988) - Georges Bataille, Leslie A. Boldt [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    The book, "Inner Experience", was compiled post-humously from notes Bataille kept with the intention of putting into book form. Nonetheless, "Inner Experience" is very comprehensive and essential to understanding Bataille's philosophies of base materialism, expenditure, the sacred and the need to transgress the limits of experience.

    Chronology of Inner Experience via Spurious:

    1941: Begins 'Le Supplice', the great central section of Inner Experience.
    1942: Bataille completes Inner Experience during the summer. It is published by Raymond Queneau.
    1943: Inner Experience is published. Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus and Sartre's Being and Nothingness are published in the same year.
    1943: 'Nom de Dieu', a text written by the Surrealists, argues Inner Experience evidences a simple minded idealism.
    1943: Blanchot reviews Inner Experience in Journal des débats in May.
    1943: Sartre publishes a long, unfavourable review of Inner Experience in Cahiers du Sud. Bataille's reply is found what will be published in 1945 as On Nietzsche.
    1944: Marcel [Moré] reviews Inner Experience more or less favourably. But he accuses Bataille of complacency and self-satisfaction. --Spurious

    The Unfinished System Of Nonknowledge (2004) - Georges Bataille, Stuart and Michelle Kendall [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Following Bataille's lead, as laid out in his notebooks, editor Stuart Kendall assembles the fragments that Bataille anticipated collecting for his summa. Kendall's introduction offers a clear picture of the author's overall project, its historical and biographical context, and the place of these works within it. The "system" that emerges from these articles, notes, and lectures is "atheology," understood as a study of the effects of nonknowledge. --from the publisher

    The Impossible (1991) - Georges Bataille [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    When I discovered Bataille in the early 2000s, I remember reading a quote which goes something to the effect of: "sex starts where words end" which illustrates the transgressiveness of sexuality and the inadequateness of language to describe experience. Can somebody pinpoint this quote? [Nov 2006]

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