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3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Eroticism (Penguin Modern Classics)
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on 2 October 2007
The plunging neckline, suspenders through soft fabrics, the four-inch heels that shrink the waist and shape your breasts disguise our deeper desire for children, sex in clean sheets, back straight, knees apart.

By contrast, the erotic is a 'psychological quest' alien to that urge. The erotic is the hidden attraction to bondage, discipline, sadomasochism, the orgy; our predisposition to fantasize on sacrifice, incest and, ultimately, 'assenting to life up to the point of death.'

These are the themes set out and meticulously explored by Georges Bataille in his masterwork Eroticism, a controversial study that first saw the light of day in France in 1957 and is published now in a new edition in English by Marion Boyars Modern Classics with a brisk, no nonsense translation by Mary Dalwood.

Once described as the 'metaphysician of evil,' Georges Bataille (1897 - 1962) is one of the most important French thinkers of his generation. A librarian, pornographer and devout Catholic, he came in later life to regard the brothels of Paris as true churches and wrote, as Jean-Paul Sartre put it, 'about man's condition, not his nature...In him reality is in conflict.'

Bataille is at his most convincing in the way he connects the underlying sexual basis of religion and philosophy to death. Erotic sex, he argues, is surrounded by taboos which we must struggle against in order to overcome the sense of isolation that surrounds us all. The erotic is life on the high wire, liberating, energizing, uniquely human. 'It seems to be assumed,' he writes, 'that man has his being independently of his passions. I affirm that we must never imagine existence except in terms of these passions.'

For anyone who writes, reads, sketches, photographs or enjoys any or indeed all aspect of their erotic life, Eroticism through 276 pages will ease the pain, heighten the pleasure, clear the mind and put you in touch with the you you really are. With references from De Sade, Freud and Saint Theresa, Georges Bataille strips away the veneer of what he sees as an imposed morality to take us into the heart of man's erotic impulse.

Chloë Thurlow's new book Being A Girl is published by Virgin Nexus.
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on 12 February 2009
I am astounded that Bataille isn't more well known. This book is incredible.
and i am surprised and disheartened that the insights on taboo & transgression are not more well read modes of thought. for me, Bataille should be read along and among nietzsche, schopenhauer, sartre, hesse. he is of equal importance.

the scope of this book is far beyond eroticism, giving insight to the origins of ecstasy, mysticism, religion, sacrifice. it is a summation of human experience, from the birth of concious thought giving rise to work/project - and project needing restraints of our animalistic desires, the taboo. and born with taboos are the transgressions of these taboos... i am a lousy explainer
read this book,
to compliment this, i strongly recommend inner experience by bataille too.
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on 1 August 2010
Bataille's book was first published in 1957. That was a different age, and maybe this book would have been shocking back then, but now... not so much. The chances are that you will "know" a lot of the ideas he discusses because you just absorbed them with your everyday culture (that's your everyday culture, you're reading a review of a Georges Batialle book, your culture is broader and deeper than the average bunny). There's a lot of anthropology, which was a device intellectuals at the time used to talk about their society without talking about it, and to provide some intellectual titillation along the way. There is an enormous amount about religion of all kinds: back in 1957 the Church was an intellectual and cultural force in a way it simply isn't now. There's one idea I like: that primitive religions made sensual and taboo behaviour sacred by allowing it on certain crazy-days, whereas Christianity simply banished it into the realm of generalised badness and so lost the ability to address our sensual nature. I'm not so sure I like his idea that it's in the disciplines of work in which we find escape from our "animal natures" either - sounds a little Capital / Work Ethic-friendly to me. By today's standards, he's a conservative: his view of casual sex is that it's "neurotic" and disappointing. My mileage definitely varies on that one. Again, back in 1957 those were the things you had to say. His novels may be a blast, but this is almost acceptable to a conservative country priest. It's an historical curio.
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on 7 July 2014
Not as difficult to read as later French philosophy, imbued with Catholicism, and rather dated. It might once have been the cutting edge of all things sexual but now seems a little quaint and not a little French. I can almost smell the croissants, see the 2CV, and hear the Gounod or Messiaen.
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on 6 February 2013
This is a very interesting book, with a lot of interesting ideas, especially in the way it is written. It feels to be written more as a train of thought as well as an argument of notions, and is very useful for dissertation work, or simply to read to increase ones knowledge.
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on 8 February 2015
as can be expected from Bataille
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on 19 November 2014
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