tagReviews & EssaysGeorges Bataille’s Story of the Eye

Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye

byjthserra©

Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye

Georges Bataille’s erotic novel, originally published as Histoire de I’oeil in 1928, was written under the penname Lord Auch. At the time of publication, he was working as a librarian and did not want to lose his job, so a penname was essential. Story of the Eye chronicles the sexual exploits of the narrator and a young girl, Simone of his same age. Together they explore the boundaries of taboo.

As the story begins, the narrator explains that Simone is a distant relative, and so, within the frame of the first two pages of the book, their incestuous relationship begins with Simone sitting, panty-less, in a bowl of milk, while both masturbated. Almost immediately the two develop an obsessive bond that the narrator describes in a most gruesome way. He recalled:

“I remember that one day, when we were in a car tooling along at top speed, we crashed into a cyclist, an apparently very young and very pretty girl. Her head was almost totally ripped off by the wheels. For a long time, we were parked only a few yards beyond without getting out, fully absorbed in the sight of the corpse. The horror and despair at so much bloody flesh, nauseating in part, and in part very beautiful, was fairly equivalent to our usual impression upon seeing one another.”

Although they waited some time before copulating, they spared no excess in their debauchery, which included masturbation sessions where she would hold a raw egg pinched between her buttocks, breaking it as she and the narrator climaxed. He would then rub his face in the egg as it dripped down her thighs. Later, standing over him she asked:

““Can’t you pee up to my cunt?” she said.

“Yes,” I answered, “but with you like this it’ll get on your dress and your face.”

“So what,” she concluded. And I did as she said, but no sooner was I done that I flooded her again, this time with fine white come.”


Bataille’s obsession with urine and eggs were apparent in the first few chapters of the book. He was also obsessed with eyes, hence the title of the book, which became gruesomely clear later in the book. These obsessions grew from his life. His father was already blind from syphilis when Bataille was born. Georges had to assist his father in all manner of bodily functions. As detailed in the afterward to the book:

”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…” “In any case, the image of those white eyes from that time was directly linked, for me, to the image of eggs, and that explains the almost regular appearance of urine every time eyes or eggs occur in the story.”


The couple continues with their sexual experimentation, sometimes including others in their play. At one point another girl joins them and is locked in a wardrobe for an extended period of time, causing her to have a breakdown. The girl goes to a sanitarium for a short while, only to return to the couple after treatment. She hangs herself in that same wardrobe, in an image frighteningly similar to when Bataille’s mother first attempted suicide. In the story the girl dies, affecting the couple:

By the time Simone and I returned she was hanging inside the wardrobe…

I cut the rope, but she was quite dead. We laid her out on the carpet. Simone saw I was getting a hard-on and she started jerking me off. I too stretched out on the carpet. It was impossible otherwise; Simone was still a virgin, and I fucked her for the first time, next to the corpse. It was very painful for both of us, but we were glad precisely because it was painful.”


As the book continues, Bataille ignores all taboo, as the sexual exploration gets more and more bizarre. In one sequence, Bataille recreates the death of famed bullfighter Manuel Granelo, a gruesome death he witnessed in 1922. The actions are intensified as the narrator bounces between images, one of Simone taking a bull testicle that was served to them after the first bullfight of the day and the goring of Granelo. As Simone slips the testicle inside herself and climaxes, the bull gores the bullfighter in the eye, killing him instantly. We are left with the image of Simone recovering the bull testicle from inside her, as the bullfighter’s eye dangles from its torn socket.

Bataille was also obsessed with the duality between the sacred and the profane. While archaic societies established taboos to emphasize this divide, Bataille believed that the act of willfully breaking these taboos granted him access to the Holy. This belief became evident in the book, as Simone masturbates during confession, then opens the door and sees the priest with an erection. The couple with a male friend takes the priest back to his sanctuary. In a blasphemous display of actions, the priest is desecrated. After a considerable amount of time, finally, held down by the two young men, the priest is choked by Simone as she rides his resulting erection. As they both reach climax, the priest is choked to death. Bataille then indulges his obsessions once again as the narrator’s friend, cuts out his eye for Simone to play with. The expected flow of urine then follows.

Considering the content of the book, it is obvious why Bataille chose a penname when he published the book. Later in his life he took credit for the book, as he traveled the avant-garde circles of many well know surrealist artists. It was only after his death that he was recognized as a seminal figure in this movement. Story of Eye and a later book Blue of Noon, published in 1957 gained critical acclaim only after Bataille’s death in 1962.

Story of Eye by Georges Bataille was translated by Joachim Neugroschel and is available new from Amazon. com and other booksellers.

References

1. Books and Writers: Georges Bataille, www. kirjasto.sci.fi/bataille.htm

2. The Biography Project: Georges Bataille, www. popsubculture.com

3. Wolin, Richard “The Story of I, Unearthing Georges Bataille”, www.

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