Bataille oc1 (1)

Georges Bataille: Oeuvres complètes, t. 1-12 (Gallimard, Paris, 1970-1988) A superbly archived and collated complete works that fortunately was undertaken while the more obscure material was readily to hand. Now we need good critical editions of some of the major works to track and document Bataille’s numerous literary, political and philosophical references.

Not the least intriguing element of volume 1 is the multiplicity of writing styles, that jostle with such  mutually exclusive bluntness as to come across more as multiple personae than different styles. The academic Bataille of Aréthuse is vastly different from the surrealist as well as from the polemicist of  Contre-attaque. The most unique, if not necessarily the most personal of Bataille's voices appears (of course) in L'Histoire de l'oeil (which itself contains at least two narrative personae), but also in the several essays where Bataille begins to work with concepts from Hegel and Heidegger and merge them with the sort of aggressive sexuality unique to himself. Plus: don't miss the obscure manuscript on Notre-Dame de Rheims where the young Bataille extols the glory of World War I France.