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Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001)

Lifespan 1905 - 2001

"I never claimed to be a writer, philosopher, or artist... only a monomaniac."

Related: Acéphale - author - French literature

Brother of: Balthus

Published in the U.S.A. by: Dalkey Archive Press

Non-fiction: Marquis de Sade - Nietzsche

Pierre Klossowski, in his 1947 book Sade Mon Prochain ("Sade My Neighbor"), analyzes Sade's philosophy as a precursor of Nietzsche's nihilism, negating both Christian values and the materialism of the Enlightenment. [Aug 2006]


Pierre Klossowski (1905–2001) was a French writer, translator and artist.

Born in Paris in 1905, Pierre Klossowski wrote full length volumes on Marquis de Sade and Nietzsche, a number of essays on literary and philosophical figures, and five novels. He translated several important texts (by Virgil, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Hölderlin, Kafka, Nietzsche, Benjamin) into French, worked on films and was also a painter, illustrating many of the scenes from his novels. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Klossowski [Aug 2006]


Remembering Author and Artist Pierre Klossowski

AUGUST 2001--Pierre Klossowski, artist and author of such books as Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, Sade My Neighbor, and Diana at her Bath, died earlier this month at his home in Paris. He was 96 years old. In February 2002, Dalkey Archive Press will reissue his novels Roberte Ce Soir and The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in one volume with a new introduction by Michael Perkins.

Klossowski is best known for his writing and drawings--both of which were much influenced by the Marquis de Sade and Georges Bataille, whom Klossowski studied with at the College of Sociologie--which explore the connections of the mind and body through the lens of sexuality. Some of his most suggestive drawings were published in Roberte Ce Soir, which Dalkey Archive will reissue along with The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in a new edition featuring cover art from Klossowski’s illustrations in Roberte Ce Soir. Together these two novels comprise the most fascinating, obsessive, and erotic works of contemporary French fiction. Both novels feature Octave, an elderly cleric, his strikingly young wife Roberte (modeled after Klossowski’s wife, Denise), and their nephew Antoine in a series of sexual situations. But Klossowski’s novels are about theology as well, and this merging of the sexual with the religious makes this book one of the most painstakingly baroque and intellectual novels of our time.

Klossowski was born in Paris in 1905, the son of an art critic and a painter and the elder brother of the recently deceased painter Balthus. Of Klossowski’s death, French Culture minister Catherine Tasca said, "A man of immense culture has left us. I’m sure that Klossowski’s writing, and his painting, too, will remain an inspiration in the years and decades to come."

Praise for Roberte Ce Soir and The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes:

"A metaphysical sex novel." --Publishers Weekly

"The sum total of the two novels is not a philosophy or a solution, but rather a paradox of human existence. Like Gide . . . Klossowski leaves the reader with the impression that he is amused rather than anguished by these apparently unresolvable human dilemmas." --Choice

"It is as if Samuel Beckett had undertaken maliciously and comically to rewrite The Story of O. . . . Klossowski has a curiously kinky mind and considerable skill." --Virginia Quarterly Review



  1. Sade My Neighbor (1947) - Pierre Klossowski [Amazon.com]
    This is the first English translation of the seminal Sade Mon Prochain (originally published in 1947), a work that has influenced French thinkers from de Beauvoir and Bataille to Derrida and Lacan. Klossowski sees in Sade's work a system that uses the moral and rational language of the Enlightenment not only to annihilate the moral categories of Christianity but to undermine the assumptions of Enlightenment materialism as well. The result anticipates Nietzsche, positing a nihilism that recognizes pure motion as the only metaphysical reality. Lingis renders a valuable service in providing a clear and readable translation of this historically important and enduring work. --Reed Business Information, Inc.

  2. Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (1969) - Pierre Klossowski [Amazon.com]
    Long recognized as a masterpiece of Nietzsche scholarship, Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle is made available here for the first time in English. Taking a structuralist approach to the relation between Nietzsche's thought and his life, Pierre Klossowski emphasizes the centrality of the notion of Eternal Return (a cyclical notion of time and history) for understanding Nietzsche's propensities for self-denial, self-refutation, and self-consumption. Nietzsche's ideas did not stem from personal pathology, according to Klossowski. Rather, Nietzsche made a pathological use of his best ideas, anchoring them in his own fluctuating bodily and mental conditions. Thus Nietzsche's belief that questions of truth and morality are at base questions of power and fitness resonates dynamically and intellectually with his alternating lucidity and delirium.

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