The Biography Project: An Independent Reference Resource

  Oscar Zeta Acosta

  Nelson Algren

  Richard Alpert

  Georges Bataille

  Charles Bukowski

  William S. Burroughs

  Neal Cassady

  Raymond Chandler

  Aleister Crowley

  Richard Dadd

  Edward Dahlberg

  Philip K. Dick

  Allen Ginsberg

  Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

  Albert Hofmann

  Timothy Leary

  Cormac McCarthy

  Bettie Page

  A. G. Rizzoli

  The Marquis de Sade

  Iceberg Slim

  William Browning Spencer

  Olaf Stapledon

  Dylan Thomas

  Jim Thompson

  B. Traven

  Alan Turing

  Pancho Villa

  Charles Whitman

  Colin Wilson

  Emiliano Zapata


Nigerian Fraud Emails

site map


Georges Bataille: 1897 - 1962

Georges Bataille

The Death of 1000 cuts

Slow Death by Leng-Tch'e (cutting into pieces):
There is true ecstasy in this expression.

Biographical Notes

Georges Bataillewas born on 10 September 1897in Billon, Puy-de-Dome, in central France. His father suffered from general paralysis, brought on by syphilis. He was, according to Bataille [1] , already blind when Georges was conceived. His mother was also of dubious sanity.

Family moves to Rheims in 1900. Bataille converts to Catholicism around the time of his baccaulaureate, just before the outbreak of the Warin 1914.

He and his mother evacuate the city, which was under the German advance, abandoning his father, who was too far gone to be easily transported.

His father dies raving, ranting and refusing to see a priest, on 6 November 1915. These events have a powerful effect on Bataille.

But the weirdest thing was certainly the way he looked while pissing. Since he could not see anything, his pupils very frequently pointed up into space, shifting under the lids, and this happened particularly when he pissed. Furthermore, he had huge, ever gaping eyes that flanked an eagle nose, and those huge eyes went almost entirely blank when he pissed, with a completely stupefying expression of abandon and aberration in a world that he alone could see and that aroused his vaguely sardonic and absent laugh.... In any case, the image of those white eyesfrom that time was directly linked, for me, to the image of eggs.... [1]

Bataille claims that from 1914 "until 1920, rarely did I let a week go by without confessing my sins." [1] In 1917, he joins the seminary of Saint-Fleur with intentions of becoming a monk.

Experiences a loss of faith in 1920 because "his Catholicism caused a woman he loved to shed tears." [2]

Attends the Ecole des Chartres, submits a thesis on "The Order Chivalry, told in verse from the thirteenth century" in 1922.

Obtains a fellowship to attend the School of Advanced Hispanic Studies in Madrid, travels extensively through Spain, witnesses the gruesome death of a bullfighter, Manuelo Granero.

Secures a position at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paristowards the end of 1922.

From 1923 to 1928 he becomes marginally involved in the Parisian Surrealistcircles; undergoes a successful psychoanalysis which allows him to write; marries the actress Sylvia Makles and has a child. (Sylvia later goes on to marry Jacques Lacan.)

Assists with the publication of the journal Documentsin 1930, gathers around him many of those who had formerly been involved with the Paris Dada, Grand Jeu and Surrealist Groups. Incurs the wrath of Andre Breton, who believes that Bataille is forming a counter-Surrealist movement.

Alastair Brotchie claims that Bataille is one of the main instigators in the anti-Breton group, responsible for the attack in the journal A Corpsewhich showed a deathlike Breton crowned with thorns. [3]

Marriage breaks up, he enters into an intense relationship with Colette Peignot, whose later death in 1938 devastates Bataille.

Georges Bataille

Bataille circa 1933

In 1935, he and Breton bury their differences to fight against the rising tide of Fascism. Along with Roger Callois, they establish an anti-Fascist group called, Contre-Attaque, "which had for its aim the re-establishment of revolutionary principles betrayed by the Communistand Socialist Parties." [2]

Forms the esoteric group Acephaleand its theoretical counterpoint, The College of Sociologyin 1936. Among the members of the College, which holds periodic lectures, are Caillois, Michel Lerisand Pierre Klossowski. Speakers are the premier intellectuals in France at the time: Jean-Paul Sartre, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adornoand Claude Levi-Straussto name only a few. [4]

Founds the influential journal Critiquein 1946. Publishes the early work of Roland Barthes, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derridaand Michel Foucault.

Recuperates from recurrent tuberculosis, marries a second time, has another child and suffers through a series of financial difficulties. In 1949, he obtains employment as a librarian in Charpentras in Provence. He holds a similar position in Orleans in 1951.

In 1961, through an auction of paintings held by such friends as Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Henri Michauxand Joan Miróhe is able to purchase an apartment in Paris and have a measure of financial security.

Georges Bataille died on 8 July 1962in Paris.

Much of the above comes from the excellent source: Georges Batailleby Michael Richardson. [2]

A Sweet Passage From The Story of the Eye

The events that followed were without transition or connection, not because they weren't actually related, but because my attention was so absent as to remain absolutely dissociated. In just a few seconds: first, Simone bit into one of the raw balls, to my dismay; then Granero advanced towards the bull, waving his scarlet cloth; finally, almost at once, Simone, with blood-red face and a suffocating lewdness, uncovered her long white thighs up to her moist vulva, into which she slowly and surely fitted the second pale globule- Granero was thrown back by the bull and wedged against the balustrade; the horns struck the balustrade three times at full speed; at the third blow, one horn plunged into the right eye and through the head. A shriek of unmeasured horror coincided with a brief orgasm for Simone, who was lifted up from the stone seat only to be flung back with a bleeding nose, under a blinding sun; men instantly rushed over to haul away Granero's body, the right eye dangling from the head.

Subcultural Relevance

Obviously, Bataille has extreme relevance as a nexus point for the intellectual and artistic life of mid-20th century France. Much of his "achievement" can only be understood inside this historical context. In this way, the simplest method of locating Bataille is to place him dead square in the middle of a continuum between Fascismand Surrealism. And, humorously enough, perhaps this crude position is the only way to make sense of his writing, especially his "transgressive fictions." But while this might be helpful to closet SadeanCatholics and the all too common crypto-fascist French neurotics, it doesn't begin to explain Bataille's increasing valence within the last few decades of this country.

It is Bataille's philosophy of excess and exuberance, his open acknowledgement of shame in the face of the extreme pornographic displays of sex and death, his sense of esoteric humor and history that make him so appropriate to this world we live in. Look around at all the weak-kneed "erotic philosophers" and judge who backs down from the abyssmal truth of the matter. The same goes for the vulturous "death therapists." Here is Bataille's relevance inside the subculture: with one foot in the flesh of the orgy and one in the bones of the grave, he speaks of the dark truths central to all human experience. And, most importantly, he embraces it, says YES to it, even though it would annihilate him. And beyond of all of his failings, this still stands. The corpse of Bataille never smelled sweeter.

Other Links (An Significant Paucity)

  • A User's Guide to Trendy French Intellectuals by R.U. Sirius

  • CTHEORY A Site For All Things Critical, Edited by Arthur and Marilouise Kroker

  • After the Orgy: The Bataillean Millenium A Curious Application

  • Experience et langage dans la pensee de Georges Bataille Something in French

  • : Something else in French

  • The Return of "The Invisible Hand": George Bataille on Postmodern Capitalism by Omid Nodoushan

  • A Footnote Filled with Francobabble Critspeak Comparing Bataille and Baudrillard Ha ha ha ah ha! It's Good!

Major Works

  • The Absence of Myth: Writings on Surrealism edited by Georges Bataille, (Michael Richardson, trans.), Verso, 1994

  • The Accursed Share Vol I: An Essay on General Economy: Consumption , (Robert Hurley, trans.), Zone Books, 1991

  • The Accursed Share Vols II and III: An Essay on General Economy: The History of Eroticism (vol II); Sovereignty (vol III) , (Robert Hurley, trans.), Zone Books, 1993

  • The Bataille Reader (Fred Botting and Scott Wilson, eds.), Blackwell, 1997

  • Blue of Noon , Marion Boyars Publishers, 1988

  • [3] Encyclopaedia Acephalica: Comprising the Critical Dictionary and Related Texts, (Bataille and Isabelle Waldberg, eds.), Atlas Press, 1996

  • Erotic Art: From the 17th to the 20th Century: The Dopp Collection , (Peter Weiermair ed.), DAP, 1995

  • Erotism: Death And Sensuality , (Mary Dalwood, trans.), City Lights, 1991 (originally published in english as Death and Sensuality: A Study of Eroticism and the Taboo, 1962. Original publication as L'Erotisme, 1957.)

  • Guilty , Lapis Press, 1988 (Out of Print)

  • The Impossible: A Story of Rats Followed by Dianus and by the Oresteia , (Robert Hurley, trans.), City Lights, 1991. (Original publication as L'Impossible, 1962)

  • Inner Experience (Suny Series: Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory), SUNY Press, 1988 -

    We receive these hazy illusions like a narcotic necessary to bear life. But what happens to us when, disintoxicated, we learn what we are? Lost among babblers in a night in which we can only hate the appearance of light which comes from babbling. The self-acknowledged suffering of the disintoxicated is the subject of this book.

    - Georges Bataille, from the Preface

  • L'Abbe C , Marion Boyars Publishers, 1994

  • Literature and Evil , Marion Boyars Publishers, 1990

  • Manet , (Austryn Wainhouse and James Emmons, trans.), Rizzoli Pubs, 1983 (Out of Print)

  • My Mother Madame Edwarda & The Dead Man , (Austryn Wainhouse, trans.), Marion Boyars Publishers, 1995

  • On Nietzsche , Paragon House, 1994

  • Poemas , Lectorum Pubs, 1980 (Out of Print)

  • Prehistoric Painting: Lascaux or the Birth of Art , (Austryn Wainhouse, trans,), Macmillan, 1955

  • [1] The Story of the Eye, (Joachim Neugroschel, trans.), City Lights, 1997

  • The Tears of Eros , (Peter Connor, trans.), City Lights, 1989. (Original publication as Les Larmes d'Eros, 1961.)

  • Theory of Religion , (Robert Hurley, trans.), Zone Books

  • Trial of Gilles de Rais , Amok, 1991 (Out of Print)

  • Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939 , Univ of Minnesota, 1985

  • Writings on Laughter, Sacrifice, Nietzsche, Un-Knowing , (Annette Michelson, trans.), October No. 36, Spring 1986

Secondary Texts

  • Georges Bataille and the Mysticism of Sin: Peter Tracey Connor

  • Georges Bataille (Twayne's World Authors Series, No. 872)Robert Champagne (11/99)
  • Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Batailleby Denis Hollier, (Betsy Wing, trans.), Zone Books, 1992

  • Batailleby Fred Botting, Blackwell, 1998

  • Bataille: Writing the SacredCarolyn Bailey Gill (ed.), Routledge, 1995

  • Bataille's Eye & ICI Field Notes 4by Deborah Cullen, 1997 (out of print)

  • Beyond the Gift: Reading Georges Batailleby Michele Richman, Johns Hopkins, 1982 (out of print)

  • [4] The College of Sociology (1937-1939)Dennis Hollier (ed), (Betsy Wing, trans.), Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1988 (out of print)

  • Eroticism in Georges Bataille and Henry Millerby Gilles Mayne, Summa Pubs, 1993

  • Fifty Key Contemporary Thinkers: From Structuralism to Postmodernityby John Lechte, Routledge,

  • [2] Georges Batailleby Michael Richardson, Routledge, 1994
  • Heterology and the Postmodern: Bataille, Baudrillard and Lyotardby Julian Pefanis, Duke, 1991

  • On Bataille: Critical Essays, by Leslie Anne Boldt-Irons (ed.), (Suny Series: Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory), SUNY Press, 1995

  • Passion and Excess: Blanchot, Bataille and Literary Theoryby Steven Shaviro, Florida State Univ Press, 1990

  • Proximity: Levinas, Blanchot, Bataille and Communicationby Joseph Libertson, Martinus Nijhoff, 1982

  • Reading Georges Bataille: Beyond the Giftby Michele H Richman, Johns Hopkins Univ Press, 1982 (out of print)

  • Reconfigurations: Critical Theory and General Economyby Arkady Plotnitsky, Univ Press of Florida, 1993

  • The Taste for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Violent Nihilism : An Essay in Atheistic Religionby Nick Land, Routledge, 1992 (OOP)

  • Violent Silence: fCelebrating Georges Bataille, Georges Bataille Event (OOP)

  • Yale French Studies, No. 78: On Bataille1990

    Video Still From Bjork's 'Venus As A Boy'

  • Björk

    • Venus As A Boy [Maxi Single] [CD-SINGLE]

    • Volumen(video compilation, DVD format) Includes the " Venus As A Boy " video.

      In 1993, Icelandic singer Björk Guðmundsdóttir cites The Story of the Eyeas a major inspiration: she made a music video that alludes to Bataille's erotic uses of eggs. Here are some more picturesof her in her video, Venus as a Boy .

Author: Bonesy Jones

Eyes of Georges Bataille: 1897 - 1962
The eyes of Georges Bataille

  © 1999 - 2004 PopSubCulture(dot)com. All rights reserved. All lefts on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The Biography Project has had tens of thousands of visitors since july 1, 1999.