Georges Bataille: An Intellectual Biography

Overview

Translated by Krzysztof Filjalkowski and Michael Richardson

Winner of the 1987 Prix Goncourt for Biography

Georges Bataille (1897–1962), philosopher, writer and founder of the influential literary review Critique, had an enormous impact on the thinking of Foucault, Derrida and Baudrillard, and his ideas have been the subjets of recent debates in a wide range of disciplines.

In this acclaimed intellectual ...

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Overview

Translated by Krzysztof Filjalkowski and Michael Richardson

Winner of the 1987 Prix Goncourt for Biography

Georges Bataille (1897–1962), philosopher, writer and founder of the influential literary review Critique, had an enormous impact on the thinking of Foucault, Derrida and Baudrillard, and his ideas have been the subjets of recent debates in a wide range of disciplines.

In this acclaimed intellectual biography Michel Surya enters into a complicity with Bataille’s oeuvre to provide a detailed exposition of its themes as they developed against the backdrop of his life. The essence of Bataille’s life and work were defined by transience and effacement, reflecting a will both to contest the impermanence of things and to confront death. His troubled childhood, his relationships with surrealism and his paradoxical position at the heart of twentieth-century French thought are enriched here with testimonies from Bataille’s closest acquaintances, making this a vivid and detailed study. Revealing the contexts in which he worked, and the ways in which his work and ideas took shape, Surya sheds essential light on a figure Foucault described as “one of the most important writers of the century.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A work] of passion, erudition, intelligence and suffering. This impressive biography rises to the level of Bataille's work and his fascination with death.”—Le Monde

“Michel Surya's book seems to me to be the beste introduction to the work and personality of Georges Bataille.”—Le Novel Observateur

Booknews
French philosopher Bataille (1867-1962) founded the literary review and influenced Foucault, Derrida, and Baudrillard. Fellow philosopher Surya examined his life and work in l'oeuvre/>, published by Editions Gallimard in 1992. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859848227
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 9/2/2002
  • Pages: 608
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michel Surya is a writer, philosopher, editor and director of the journal Lignes. The French edition of his book Georges Bataille was awarded the Prix Goncourt for biography.
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
I
In the beginning was death 3
'Turn the world upside down, turn the world, quite ineluctably, upside down' 14
'The thunderbolt pilots all things' 16
Ave Caesar 22
'Laid out like a corpse' 25
The school of the flesh 27
'Hard brow and clear eyes' 31
Tumult and withdrawal 34
The depths of worlds 36
La emocion 39
Letters to an unknown woman 45
'When you have to embark on the seas, you emigrants' 51
The joyful cynic 55
'Tristi est anima mea usque ad mortem' 57
II
Torpid Maurras and decrepit Moscow 67
Magnetic field 71
The mortuary chasm of debauchery 82
The philosopher and the rake 85
'I write in order to erase my name' 88
The torture of a Hundred Pieces 93
The priest of Torcy 96
Triunfo de la muerte 100
The eye at work 107
Don't waste my time with idealism! 112
The donkey's kick 116
'Excrement philosopher' 126
The castrated lion 131
'Surrealism's secret affectations' 135
The angel and the beast, part 1 140
'A man is what he lacks' 143
'An obscene and horribly desirable trick' 153
III
'Someone able to see clearly' 159
The Democratic Communist Circle 167
The state: heartbreak and misfortune 171
'A world of appearances and of old men with their teeth falling out' 176
'With a single blow, like an ox in the abattoir' 183
History and its ends; the end of history 187
The animal-headed journal: Minotaure 191
'The saint of the abyss' 196
Thunderbolts and forebodings 205
The sky turned upside down 209
'Revolutionary offensive or death' 218
The angel and the beast, part 2 228
From Contre-Attaque to Acephale: Andre Masson 231
'Everything calls for the death which ravages us' 235
Florid bullfight 254
Sacred sociology 261
Vivan le femmine, viva il buon vino, sostegno e gloria d'umanita 271
IV
Good fortune 281
'I am myself war' 283
'I love ignorance touching on the future' 289
The excretions of the war: exodus, evacuation 297
Nobodaddy 300
Edwarda: the divine tatters 305
'I call myself the abomination of God' 309
The community of friends 311
From the community of the impossible to the impossible community 316
The annunciation made to Marie 318
Sickening poetic sentimentality 322
Philosophy's 'easy virtue' 329
'System is needed and so is excess' 337
Philosophy in the old folk's home 344
The catechism of fortune 352
V
A potential for stench and irremediable fury 357
Fascism's last sanctuary 363
Bataille's politics 368
Il salto mortale 376
The curse of history 380
The empire of the double 387
From Vezelay to Carpentras 395
Communal demands 403
The angel and the beast, part 3 407
Continuity discontinued 415
Non serviam 420
A hypermorality: for the love of anguish alone 425
Moral evil 427
The sovereign individual 437
The catechism of 'saints' 441
The servitude of utility 446
The accursed body 450
What lies behind misfortune 454
Felix culpa 458
Universal history 462
The bit between the teeth 465
To die of laughing and to laugh of dying 474
To think everything to a point that makes people tremble 479
'God: a Feydeau-style situation comedy' 482
'One day this living world will pullulate in my dead mouth' 487
And finally, incompletion 490
Afterword 493
Notes 495
Bibliography 581
Index 585
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