The Tears of Eros does no credit to Georges Bataille nor to its publisher. It's not so much an essay as a loose assemblage of remarks, most of which are merely repetitions of points made at greater length, and with much greater force and cohesion, in Bataille's Eroticism. These remarks (repetitious in themselves) are preceded by a self-regarding preface written by Bataille's editor, Joseph Marie Lo Duca, plus nine pages of letters written by the ailing Bataille during the creation of The Tears of Eros. As for the main part of the book, it consists largely of poor-quality reproductions of photos, prints and paintings, of variable relevance to the text, and sloppily captioned (did nobody at City Lights know the difference between Lucrezia and Lucretius, for example?). The notoriety of this book rests chiefly on its inclusion of photographs showing the execution, by mutilation, of a man identified here as Fou Tchou Li. Bataille's use of these terrible images, and his observations on them, are the subject of a devastating critique in Death by a Thousand Cuts by Timothy Brook, Jerome Bourgon and Gregory Blue, in a chapter that suggests - in Bataille's defence - that Joseph Marie Lo Duca should be regarded more as the co-author of this shoddy little book than as its editor. If you're new to Bataille, this is emphatically not the place to start. Read Eroticism instead.
The Tears of Eros is a fitting culmination of Bataille's search for value through excess. Although Bataille addresses many of the themes touched on here in greater detail in earlier works (Eroticism, The Accursed Share), The Tears of Eros is notable for the significant amount of artwork included to illustrate the connection Bataille develops between sex, death, expenditure, and sovereign value. This is a "must-read" for any serious student of contemporary philosophy and--for that matter--any who would insist that value resides elsewhere than in a petty, bourgeois individualism.