cover image Guilty


Georges Bataille. Lapis Press, $0 (161pp) ISBN 978-0-932499-55-4

To many Western critics, Bataille (1897-1962) stands as one of the most arresting and influential writers of this century. Accordingly, this first English translation of Le Coupable will surely gratify those interested in contemporary intellectual history or literature. Guilty , which defies classification by genre, is presented as series of reflections and meditations. Tellingly begun in September 1939, Bataille's philosophical inquiries are heightened by the war and its introduction of profound uncertainty: ``I started this book as the result of an upheaval that ended up challenging everything and freed me from undertakings I was stuck in. Once war broke out, there was no way I could wait any morewait, that is, for the liberation which this book is for me.'' Elegant and gnomic passages challenge the barriers imposed on the self by language and by conceptions of the sacred: ``Human existence is guilty: it is this to the degree it opposes nature. A humility that makes humanity ask forgiveness (Christianity) overwhelms human existence without excusing it. Christianity's advantage is that it at least aggravates the guilt it proclaims . . . . '' Bataille probes this fundamental imprisonment in an argument made here poetic and accessible through a lucid translation. (September)