cover image Georges Bataille: Critical Essays, Vol. 1: 1944–1948

Georges Bataille: Critical Essays, Vol. 1: 1944–1948

Edited by Alberto Toscano and Benjamin Noys, trans. from the French by Chris Turner. Seagull, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-1-80309-060-3

In this erudite volume, scholars Toscano (Fanaticism) and Noys (Georges Bataille) collect the critical works of French thinker and novelist Georges Bataille (1897–1962), touching on topics including philosophy, literature, religion, geopolitics, art, and psychoanalysis. In “The War in China,” from 1946, the author notes that whatever the country “is truly like, whatever it may become, it must be said that it has a momentous destiny before it.” “The Sexual Revolution and The Kinsey Report” sees him drolly doubt the impact Alfred Kinsey’s study of human sexuality will have on French culture, as the report is “on a certain matter we think we have not much to learn.” “Dionysos Redivivus” is a somewhat esoteric comparison of Greek god Dionysus to the devil in which he writes that “Satan is only an aged dionysus.” Bataille can be an opaque writer and has a tendency to quote significant blocks of text with little acknowledgement, which isn’t helped much by Toscano and Noys’s light editorial touch: essays are presented without introduction and with few contextual footnotes. Those outside the scholarly set might feel pushed into the deep end without a life jacket, but the initiated will find it worth the ride. (Dec.)