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Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille (1928)

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English (32)  French (1)  All languages (33)
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Book Description
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 sacreligious, 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.

My Review
I did not really care for this book. It is surrealism that is nothing but erotic. I think it was written for it's shock value and just shows how sick some people can be. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
0.5 stars. Disgusting about sums it up ( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Georges Bataille’s 1928 novella Story of the Eye has often been read for the graphic details of an increasingly inexplicable adventures of a pair of teenagers and their sexual perversions. Narrated by an unnamed male in his late teens, the book tells the story of his passionate affair with Simone, his primary partner. Throughout the book their relationship involves other people including a mentally ill sixteen year-old girl and a voyeuristic English émigré aristocrat. To say this book is risqué might actually be an understatement, but is the book really about fornication?

With a little help from French literary theorist Roland Barthes and his accompanying essay “The Metaphor of the Eye”, I quickly discovered that Story of the Eye is far more complex than I originally thought. However if you do read Georges Bataille’s introduction before the book like I did you will discover a few titbits that help decipher the surrealist nature of the novella. In this introduction Bataille talks about his love/hate relationship with his father, a man who went blind on account of neurosyphilis. He shares a memory he remembers clearly in his head of his father urinating and the vacant look in his milky eyes.

The reason this story is important to Story of the Eye is because the novella often references urination and eyes in the midst of the sexual acts. As Barthes explains in his essay, “Although Story of the Eye features a number of named characters with an account of their sex play, Bataille was by no means writing the story of Simone, Marcelle, or the narrator”. The act of sex is often accompanied with some form of violence. The eyes, milk, urine can all be seen as a reference to his memory of his father and any reference to testicles and eggs could be interpreted as metaphors to the creation of life.

While Roland Bathes goes into a far deeper analysis of the metaphors found in Story of the Eye, a slight understanding of the content changes this books topic from sexual perversions to an angry rant directed towards Bataille’s father. There are other reference found in the novella that connect to his life; for example the priest. Georges Bataille went into the seminary in the hopes of becoming a priest, however he had to drop out to find a job to support his mother, killing his dream. A topic I believe is discussed in more detail in his non-fiction book Eroticism.

I found myself being absorbed in Story of the Eye (which was translated by Joachim Neugroschel, Dovid Bergelson); although difficult to read, the symbolism really intrigued me. So much so that I had to order my own copy of the book in the hopes to re-read it soon. I read this as an ebook and I now own a physical copy which features the essays “The Pornographic Imagination” Susan Sontag and of course “The Metaphor of the Eye”. I am fascinated by the surreal erotic style of Bataille; I think he is an author I need to explore in greater details.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://www.knowledgelost.org/literature/book-reviews/genre/erotica/story-of-the-... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Sep 6, 2015 |
Garish, but not pornographic; the essays that it comes with are useful resources that explain much of the significance of the text itself. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Nov 8, 2014 |
This book is filthy, and not in the fun way. This is the most disturbing book I've ever read. It is as offensive as you can get, save for maybe incest, but even that wouldn't be too out of place in this book. It is 85 pages of fornication, masturbation, urinating, and something gross involving eggs and eyes. It's anything BUT erotic.

However, I couldn't put this book down, as much as I may have wanted to. It's the second half of the book that gets the most disturbing, but it also makes the most sense as to the point of this whole sad story. This book is something I cannot stop thinking about. I want to read it again, and maybe again after that.

I recommend this only to the brave and not to the faint of heart. The book is gross. If you can handle that, then read it.

Fun Fact: I checked this out from my school's library, and am now mortified I let this book be on my record. I don't recommend getting this from the library. I washed my hands after every single time I touched it. ( )
  danlai | Sep 1, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georges Batailleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Neugroschel, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I grew up very much alone, and as far back as I recall I was frightened of anything sexual.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0872862097, Paperback)

Only Georges Bataille could write, of an eyeball removed from a corpse, that "the caress of the eye over the skin is so utterly, so extraordinarily gentle, and the sensation is so bizarre that it has something of a rooster's horrible crowing." Bataille has been called a "metaphysician of evil," specializing in blasphemy, profanation, and horror. Story of the Eye, written in 1928, is his best-known work; it is unashamedly surrealistic, both disgusting and fascinating, and packed with seemingly endless violations. It's something of an underground classic, rediscovered by each new generation. Most recently, the Icelandic pop singer Björk Guðdmundsdóttir cites Story of the Eye as a major inspiration: she made a music video that alludes to Bataille's erotic uses of eggs, and she plans to read an excerpt for an album. Warning: Story of the Eye is graphically sexual, and is only for adults who are not easily offended.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:06 -0400)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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