Eroticism by Georges Bataille
Mark Price uncovers an urgent, thrusting book about love, sex, death and spirituality by Georges Bataille.
Almost fifty years have passed since the publication of this remarkable book (Editions de Minuit, 1957). Mary Dalwood’s translation appeared rather quickly by the standards of academic publishing (Calder and Boyars, 1962); but still, outside of a small circle of intellectual Francophiles, Bataille was and remained largely unknown. Even in Vincent Descombes’ Modern French Philosophy, which many of the UK’s leading ‘Continental’ philosophers of the present day were devouring as undergraduates in the 1980’s, Bataille is only mentioned in passing. Why read the relatively obscure Bataille now? And why read Bataille’s Eroticism now? Besides the practical considerations that it is two pounds cheaper, the illustrations are noticeably crisper, and it is easier to fit in one’s pocket than the 1987 edition?
Perhaps the speed at which a thinker becomes canonical is an index of how little their thought changes anything. Even if that were so, it by no means implies the counter-principle that a thinker’s profundity can be measured by the degree of ignorance afforded to them by the kingmakers who write histories of French thought.