The Bataille Reader (Paperback)
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Since the publication in France of his Oeuvres Completes in the mid-1970s, the breadth of Bataille's writing and influence has become increasingly apparent across a breadth of disciplines including literature, art, art history, philosophy, critical theory, sociology, economics, and anthropology. Bataille is now held by many to be one of the most profound thinkers of the century, the enormous ramifications of whose work have yet to be fully grasped. The Bataille Reader is the best single-volume collection of his work yet available. To present the most complete picture of his influence, The Bataille Reader includes key texts from the broad spectrum of Bataille's work, ranging from his early essays interrogating surrealism and cultural politics in the 1930s, to texts from The Accursed Share (1949, translated 1988), a major engagement in post-Marxist economic theory generally regarded as being his most important work. Generous coverage is given to Bataille's speculations from the 1930s on the limits of being, experience, and identity, as well as to his post-war engagements with existentialism, Marxism, and Hegelianism. The major texts are interspersed with some of the brilliantly punctual essays Bataille produced throughout his career as a prolific essayist, reviewer, and originator of highly-influential journals, such as Documents, Acephale, and Critique. This collection is clearly introduced and comprehensively annotated by the editors.
Georges Bataille was born in 1897 to a mentally unstable mother and a father who became blind and increasingly paralyzed due to syphilis. Bataille himself was ill for most of his life, and was discharged from the military during World War I after contracting tuberculosis. After attending the seminary and living with a Benedictine order, Bataille suffered a loss of faith, and instead studied poetry in Paris where he became associated with the Surrealist movement. However, Surrealist leader Andre Breton found Bataille's work to be depraved, and for the rest of his life Bataille floated around the fringes of the movement--an outcast from even a radical art group. From the 1920s to the 1940s, Bataille worked at The National Library in Paris by day, and frequented brothels by night, indulging in his peculiar sexual predilections. Influenced by the philosophy of Nietzsche and the writing of the Marquis de Sade, he founded a secret society called Acephale, and wrote numerous novels and books of criticism on erotic topics. Bataille's most infamous work, STORY OF THE EYE, would become a cult classic, and was praised by critics Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag for its complex exploration of pornographic themes.
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