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Book reviews for "Bataille,_Georges" sorted by average review score:

Erotism: Death and Sensuality
Published in Paperback by City Lights Books (June, 1991)
Authors: Georges Bataille and Mary Dalwood
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This is, with no dout, one of the best books in the genre. It is decadent jet avant grade. If you like erotic literature and taboo this book is a must.

A compelling addition to the discourse of sex and religion.
Before Foucault ruined the game, this was the cutting edge of theoretical musings on sex. Bataille's "continuity" concept of the erotic still seems fascinating (if not slightly intuitive), especially in the chapters on war and mysticism. Beware of the difficult language, but once this hurdle is cleared you're in for a delightful read.

This book made me feel dizzy
This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read. Bataille contemplates humanity by means of erotism. He deals with love, sex, death and spirituality. He quests what makes human distinguished from other animals. He is vague sometimes, and leaps amazingly. Actually, I read the book in Korean, but I'd like to share the feeling with anyone who'd love to. If you liked this book, please write to me!

The Thirst of Annihilation : Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism
Published in Paperback by Routledge (December, 1990)
Author: Nick Land
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Even better than Bataille's works ... this is a dangerous book indeed.

A Jungle out of machines
Imagine a jungle full of machines, full of rhizomes, lines of mutations, cyclonic logics, dangerous ciphers, etc.

This is the best book yet written on Bataille!
Land revels in Bataille's perverse methodology, reviving his audacity and confrontational spirit. A dangerous, evil book and a must-read for anyone who cares about French philosophy and its future

Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939 (Theory and History of Literature, Vol 14)
Published in Paperback by Univ of Minnesota Pr (Txt) (July, 1985)
Author: Georges Bataille
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Georges Bataille was NOT a surrealist
He and Breton (the dead ox, vile priest, castrated lion of surrealism) violently attacked one another precisely because Bataille was opposed to the idealism and the upstanding morals of surrealism. Bataille is probably spinning in his grave at the mere thought that his legacy would be trashed by the sloppy reference to him as a member of religion he so hated.

Im so impresed with this mans work I am obsessed. He is a rare breed of intelligence. He has a piece in this called 'Mouth" which refers tothe position our heads take well being thrown back in a scream as that of an extension to our spines, inother words that we assume an animal architecture to our bones in the most extreme pains. Batailles constant opinions detailed here in wonderful totaly controlled short pieces , is for me, the only truly awful reading I have ever done. A music piece I often play also has this effect. It is genuis to have the power of horror in works not involving the 'supernatural". I am in awe of this odd,dead man.

Disturbing and beautiful!
Bataille was French surrealist who wrote like an alien trapped on a hostile planet. In searing essays like "the Solar Anus," he almost convinces you that the end is not just near, but here. Disturbing and beautiful, this book is highly recommended.

Accursed Share, Vol. 1: Consumption
Published in Paperback by Zone Books (26 March, 1991)
Authors: Georges Bataille and Robert Hurley
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a work of genius
Read both books that contain all three volumes: in a way, the summation of Bataille's thoughts and written with clarity. It's not just the consumption-expenditure approach to analysing human activity that's orginial, he is (as he states towards the end of vol. 3) the closest thinker to Nietzsche. That is an assertion that bears merit as Bataille examines in as thorough a way possible (and in many ways supplements and is a good commentary on) Nietzsche's ideas of the overman, which he calls the sovereign man. At the core of his thoughts is Hamlet's last line, 'The rest is silence'. Sovereignty is NOTHING. A brilliant and vital contribution to the century's history of ideas.

A thought provoking work connecting religion and economics.
In this book, Georges Bataille explores the connection between man's religious and economic pursuits. By focusing in on such divergent practices as human sacrifice and ritualized warfare in Aztec society, the practice of "potlach" in native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest, Tibetan Lamaism, and the conflagrations of our most recent World Wars, the author seeks to overturn classical models of economics. Instead of economics being driven by individuals seeking to satisfy their personal needs, Bataille proposes that economics is actually a social process that seeks to destroy, excrete, and expend excess goods and services. His unique perspective centers around the idea that the systematic destruction and loss of goods and services is intimately connected to our age old struggle to attain the Beyond. The French philosopher Michel Foucault once stated that Bataille said what had never been said before. After reading this first volume of Bataille's three volume work "The Accursed Share", you can begin to understand why Foucault believed as he did.

Inner Experience (Suny Series : Intersections : Philosophy and Critical Theory)
Published in Paperback by State Univ of New York Pr (April, 1988)
Authors: Georges Bataille and Leslie A. Boldt
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Inner Experience
In this book Bataille shows how "project" -- the realm of work not just physical but also the incessant discourse running through one's interior mind -- is a prison, a prison based upon our inauthentic interaction with the world: one puts everything off until later, one lives in a "hazy illusion". But this viel can be broken, says Bataille, through the dynamic ground of non-knowledge, the point one reaches when the quest for the "summit", for God and Absolute knowledge, dissolves. This point is the height of drama and is ultimately the last act of folly (like when Sisyphus realizes his fate of rolling a rock up a mountain). One then experiences a fusion of anguish and ecstasy; one is moved by Inner Experience, something that, paradoxically, is not "inner" nor "experience", but rather is like a slap in the face, a slap simlilar to what a zen monk receives in meditation when he or she realizes who he or she IS: emptiness.

Transgress the limits of experience
Georges Bataille was a French writer and philosopher during the surrealist period. He founded many literary movements in the form of magazines and critical reviews within surrealist circles such as, "Acephale", with friend and contemporary artist, Andre Masson. Other contemporaries of Bataille's include, Salvador Dali, and Bataille's nemesis, self-professed 'leader' of the surrealist movement, Andre Breton.

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.

Recommended reading by Bataille: "Story of the Eye", "Documents", and "Visions of Excess" a collection of essays (edited by Allan Stoeckl). Also, to learn more about Bataille, look up "Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille", by Dennis Hollier

My Mother, Madame Edwarda and the Dead Man
Published in Paperback by Marion Boyars Publishers, Ltd. ()
Authors: Georges Bataille, Austryn Wainhouse, Yukio Mishima, and Ken Hollings
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(Before I get into my review of this book, I would like to point out that some of the unheralded treasures in this collection are found in the extra pieces. These include the prefaces written by Bataille for "Madame Edwarda" and the "Dead Man", and two critical essays, one of which was written by another equally intriguing author, Yukio Mishima, who wrote The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea and The Sound of Waves, among other things. The information in these pieces is quite helpful in understanding the philosophy and intent of Bataille's three short stories, and also serves as a great springboard to his other writings. I would also like to mention that I stumbled upon Bataille through the movie "Before Sunrise" - this was the book she was reading on the train - so if you like this book, you might like that movie.)
To start my review, I would like to say that the previous reviewer appears to have understood the broad strokes of Bataille's writing, but failed to see the finer points of it. Their descriptions are accurate, but the conclusions they draw seem to be results of their own moralizing and do not necessarily reflect the basic themes of the stories.
For example, while "My Mother" is a study of the mother's search for destruction and the influence of this on her son (as mygotta has pointed out) it is not a moralistic fable revealing the inevitable pitfalls of a profligate life. This kind of puritanical idea in regards to human sexuality is completely antithetical to the philosphy Bataille espoused in this and other texts. In the case of "My Mother," the libertine lifestyle and sexual openness of the characters is not the result of a slow, fatalistic slumping towards the gutter, but rather is a quest for transcendence through intense experience, especially sexual experience. This attitude is revealed, for example, when the mother writes to her son, telling him that, "I have absolutely no interest in this world where they scratch about, patiently waiting for death to enlighten them. As for me, it is the wind of death that sustains the life in me," or when the son realizes that, "Again and again during those interminable days of my solitude and of my sinfulness I would stiffen as though from an electric shock when the thought thrilled through me that my mother's crime elevated her into God, in the very way in which terror and the vertiginous idea of God became identified. And, wanting to find God, I wanted to burrow down and cover myself with mud, so as not to be more unworthy of Him than my mother." The juxtaposing of base sensuality with divinity, and the constant invocation of taboos in this story are interwoven with what seems to be an ultimate moral ambiguity. And these themes are continued in the other two stories as well.
Bataille's writing is terrific stuff if you can handle its pornographic imagery and blasphemous intonations. His stories and essays question not only the foundations of religion, morality and social norms, but also the fabric of reality itself. This stuff is not just well-written erotica: it is profound and provocative philosophy .

Destruction and Hedonism
Sometimes erotic, other time incestial, and more times than not this book is shocking and curious. The narratives of a boy, Pierre, and his minglings with his mothers reckless lifestyle. The book is a study of a mothers destruction after she was raped at a young age. It is also a study of the contradictions of the hedonic world how it creates problems and destroys rather than forgets. Its not always a passive life. Pierre learns about this and we see how it hampers his psyche into being passivle controlled, not just by mother, but by women in general. The lack of the father figure, and the hatred towards him allowed him to feel worthless. The second and third story, Madame Edwards and Dead Man are shorter variations on the same theme. A different type of storytelling than I am used to reading, nonetheless I found it completely intriguing (despite at times I did yawn). Once you read this, it will be one of those books that you will remember.

The Tears of Eros
Published in Paperback by City Lights Books (December, 1989)
Authors: Georges Bataille and Peter Connor
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An exploration of value through excessive experience
The Tears of Eros is a fitting culmination of Bataille's search for value through excess. Although Bataille addresses many of the themes touched on here in greater detail in earlier works (Eroticism, The Accursed Share), The Tears of Eros is notable for the significant amount of artwork included to illustrate the connection Bataille develops between sex, death, expenditure, and sovereign value. This is a "must-read" for any serious student of contemporary philosophy and--for that matter--any who would insist that value resides elsewhere than in a petty, bourgeois individualism.

Extraordinary treatment of sex and death, emotions and words
It is from woman, we come and to woman, we return because we all have both aspects in our being...female and maleness

The Bataille Reader (Blackwell Readers)
Published in Paperback by Blackwell Publishers (October, 1997)
Authors: Fred Botting, Scott Wilson, and Georges Bataille
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Bataille le nouveau mystique!
The idea of editing a Bataille Reader in 320 pages might sound unthinkable to any French scholars of Bataille. Similar collection has never been appeared in France. The reason for such absence might be due to the complexity of the thought of Bataille and the voluminous nature of his writings. Once a devoted theology student, a libertine, a surrealist dissident, chief organizer for "College de Sociologie", founder of secret society "Acephale" and the most important French revue "Critique", Bataille has always been a figure of respect and controversy.

In the most literal sense, Bataille's writings are personal: the narrations (pornography, poems), philosophical discourses (Inner Experience, On Nietzsche) and interpretations (book review, art criticism) he put forward are originated from his intense desire to appropriate life's meaning/mystery. Interspersed over the pages in present Reader are principal leitmotivs of Bataille: laughter, death, chance, gift, transgressions etc. In these texts we shall never encounter the stiff coldness common to certain analytical philosophers. Bataille uplifts us from solid ground and force us to head for the furthest in our intellectual reserch. Sometimes, if not always, reading Bataille could be an unbearbale experience. Passages from "Madame Edwarda" in this Reader can be served as a test for your tolerance. To me it is the most important theological investigation ever written by Bataille - the prostitute as incarnation of divinity. After reading this text may be you would agree with Sartre in calling Bataille a "New Mystic". This Bataille Reader is indeed an ideal 'book of initiation' to Bataille - the most inspiring French thinker born a hundred and three years ago.

Afterall, I'm happy to place this excellent compendium next to the 12 yellow bricks (the French Gallimard edition of Oeuvres completes looks like bricks) already lying on my shelf.

Erotic Art: From the 17th to the 20th Century
Published in Hardcover by Edition Stemmle (June, 1995)
Authors: Peter Weiermair, Isabelle Azoulay, Georges Bataille, Hans-Jurgen Dopp, Claudia Gehrke, Volkmar Sigusch, John S. Southard, and Frankfurter Kunstverein
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Commentary is refrehingly diverse...
A lot of existentialistic analysis goes along with these intriguing pieces of work, grandly exposing the underbelly ;) of proper society. The chapter on Nietzsche explains his views on Dionysis and Apollo and how we are torn between the carnal and culture...forget any "Nietzsche for Idiots" tyoe books, and read this one!!

The Impossible: A Story of Rats Followed by Dianus and by the Oresteia
Published in Paperback by City Lights Books (December, 1991)
Authors: Georges Bataille and Robert Hurley
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Beyond And Before The Erotic
Note from personal experience (the only way to comment): Passing through the seemingly simple sexual plays of The Father, The Son or Daughter, and The Stark Flesh, one may finally attain a sense of lost freedom in a short excursion into self-conscious poetry forced back on itself. However, dropping the issue and/or the book leaves one caught in the cliche of feeling that one understands. This may require a Quixotic reenactment in order to survive this forgetting --- necessarily not only in the world of one's imagination. This transcendence is then achieved again by that fold and feedback of sacrificing to oneself all that one holds dearly and holy --- reason, despair, and perhaps folly. Only in this way can a true confrontation be finally and for the first time attempted and accomplished.

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