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Set against the backdrop of Europe’s slide into Fascism, this twentieth-century erotic classic takes the reader on a dark journey through the psyche of the pre-war French intelligentsia, torn between identification with the victims of history and the glamour of its victors. One of Bataille’s overtly political works, it explores the ambiguity of sex as a subversive force, b Set against the backdrop of Europe’s slide into Fascism, this twentieth-century erotic classic takes the reader on a dark journey through the psyche of the pre-war French intelligentsia, torn between identification with the victims of history and the glamour of its victors. One of Bataille’s overtly political works, it explores the ambiguity of sex as a subversive force, bringing violence, power, and death together in a terrifying unity.


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Set against the backdrop of Europe’s slide into Fascism, this twentieth-century erotic classic takes the reader on a dark journey through the psyche of the pre-war French intelligentsia, torn between identification with the victims of history and the glamour of its victors. One of Bataille’s overtly political works, it explores the ambiguity of sex as a subversive force, b Set against the backdrop of Europe’s slide into Fascism, this twentieth-century erotic classic takes the reader on a dark journey through the psyche of the pre-war French intelligentsia, torn between identification with the victims of history and the glamour of its victors. One of Bataille’s overtly political works, it explores the ambiguity of sex as a subversive force, bringing violence, power, and death together in a terrifying unity.

30 review for Blue of Noon

  1. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    Unlike Story of the Eye Blue of Noon doesn’t boast excess of sexual symbols but there is a profusion of existential signs instead. All that nausea and sickness and squalor of living so cherished by Jean-Paul Sartre are already in this novelette. And the main hero’s obsession with necrophilia symbolizes an abhorrence of the pending stream of death. In front of them, their leader – a degenerately skinny kid with the sulky face of a fish – kept time with a long drum major's stick. He held this stic Unlike Story of the Eye Blue of Noon doesn’t boast excess of sexual symbols but there is a profusion of existential signs instead. All that nausea and sickness and squalor of living so cherished by Jean-Paul Sartre are already in this novelette. And the main hero’s obsession with necrophilia symbolizes an abhorrence of the pending stream of death. In front of them, their leader – a degenerately skinny kid with the sulky face of a fish – kept time with a long drum major's stick. He held this stick obscenely erect, with the knob at his crotch, it then looked like a monstrous monkey's penis that had been decorated with braids of coloured cord. Like a dirty little brute, he would then jerk the stick level with his mouth; from crotch to mouth, from mouth to crotch, each rise and fall jerking to a grinding salvo from the drums. The sight was obscene. It was terrifying – if I hadn't been blessed with exceptional composure, how could I have stood and looked at these hateful automatons as calmly as if I were facing a stone wall? Each peal of music in the night was an incantatory summons to war and murder. The drum rolls were raised to their paroxysm in the expectation of an ultimate release in bloody salvos of artillery. I looked into the distance... a children's army in battle order. They were motionless, nonetheless, but in a trance. I saw them, so near me, entranced by a longing to meet their death, hallucinated by the endless fields where they would one day advance, laughing in the sunlight, leaving the dead and the dying behind them. The tale is prophetic. In the tumultuous times hysteria prevails.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Can't quite believe this came from the same guy that penned the sick 'Histoire de l'œil' (Story of the Eye). I found it, to my surprise, to be really good. Starting off in London, before taking in Paris, Barcelona, and briefly towards the end, Germany, all set around the time of the Spanish Civil War, Blue of Noon bizarrely felt just as much to me like Hemingway as it did likes of Céline or Henry Miller. There are nods towards Sartre too, who was a fan of the book. Yes it's nihilistic, with lots Can't quite believe this came from the same guy that penned the sick 'Histoire de l'œil' (Story of the Eye). I found it, to my surprise, to be really good. Starting off in London, before taking in Paris, Barcelona, and briefly towards the end, Germany, all set around the time of the Spanish Civil War, Blue of Noon bizarrely felt just as much to me like Hemingway as it did likes of Céline or Henry Miller. There are nods towards Sartre too, who was a fan of the book. Yes it's nihilistic, with lots of crying and lots of moping, and our protagonist Troppman has a morbid fascination for corpses, as well as being drunk and sick most of the time, but Bataille really captures that brooding feeling within his narrative in regards the years leading up to the Second World War. Europe is on a cliff edge, and he builds a pensive tension leading towards it's haunting ending. Expanding on that, Blue of Noon had some of the most beautiful depictions of sorrow and despair that I've come across. The eroticism is toned down, the psychology is turned up, as Troppman slowly starts to creep into the shadows of rising fascism, who, during his stay in the places I mentioned above, spends time in the company of four woman: Dirty, the Marxist Jew Lazare, the young Xenie, and his wife Edith. Abomination would be one word I'd use when describing the thoughts of some it's character's, especially Troppman who seems to drift through the darkness of a decadent world worthy of a good scrubbing, and in an alcohol haze he tries to find a cause to devote himself to, but illness, lethargy and repulsion follows his path of righteousness. What is worth saying also, is that Bataille has the ability to incite a physical revolt in the reader as we accompany Troppman on his journey. I will now certainly read more Bataille, having previously said "No Way!" after Histoire de l'œil.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    4.5 stars. Bleak, depraved, and nihilistic, but in an utterly gorgeous, razor-sharp way. Far more potent and incisive than his Story of the Eye. Absolutely loved it. 4.5 stars. Bleak, depraved, and nihilistic, but in an utterly gorgeous, razor-sharp way. Far more potent and incisive than his Story of the Eye. Absolutely loved it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    In a time and place of fear there is often a self portrait that emerges that can no longer be hidden - and this is the true 'us' who we did not want others to see. Excellent examination of that which we hide - but that emerges in times of conflict. In a time and place of fear there is often a self portrait that emerges that can no longer be hidden - and this is the true 'us' who we did not want others to see. Excellent examination of that which we hide - but that emerges in times of conflict.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dhanaraj Rajan

    May be three and half stars. The rating here is very subjective. If, for instance, a person with the sufficient knowledge of the pre-war Europe along with its political turmoils and its popular philosophical ideologies, might end up liking it much better. And he/she might rate it highly. Of course, I too did some extra reading. Searched for some of the definitions and features of Fascism, Spanish Civil War, the assassination of Dollfuss, etc. The reason for the extra reading: The novel is situated May be three and half stars. The rating here is very subjective. If, for instance, a person with the sufficient knowledge of the pre-war Europe along with its political turmoils and its popular philosophical ideologies, might end up liking it much better. And he/she might rate it highly. Of course, I too did some extra reading. Searched for some of the definitions and features of Fascism, Spanish Civil War, the assassination of Dollfuss, etc. The reason for the extra reading: The novel is situated in a particular historical setting of Europe and the characters are allusions to various philosophical/political positions of the then Europe (Thanks to the introduction to Will Self). It was the time Fascism was gaining ground all over Europe. The novel as such deals with a man and his amorous encounters with three women. The three women are supposed to be allusions to various ideologies. For instance, Dirty (Dorathea) is an allusion to the past regime or the regime that is to be thrown away. And so, calling her as Dirty is intentional (to me it looks like that). The past regime is one to which mud is slung. It is always dirty. And it has to be replaced with the new government and even if it is needed to be arrived at with the violent means, it is okay. This position is represented by Lazare, the second woman. Here too, the name is very suggestive. Dead man alive - Marxist ideology of salvation through violence is questioned (?). Or Marxist ideology itself is shown to be redundant. The other woman is Xenie, who represents bourgeois class. The main character in the novel is attracted to all three and he can not decide where to place his trust. He is indecisive. He is content at times being with Lazare (Marxism/Fascism) and the next moment he has a longing for Dirty and he also flirts with Xenie. If that is the case, the novel has come out well. I sincerely hope that I got the point.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ben Winch

    To a greater or lesser extent, everyone depends on stories, on novels, to discover the manifold truth of life. Only such stories, read sometimes in a trance, have the power to confront a person with his fate. [...] Of this I am sure: only an intolerable, impossible ordeal can give an author the means of achieving that wide-ranging vision that readers weary of the narrow limitations imposed by convention are waiting for. (Georges Bataille, Author’s Foreword, 1957.) In Blue of Noon as in all his fic To a greater or lesser extent, everyone depends on stories, on novels, to discover the manifold truth of life. Only such stories, read sometimes in a trance, have the power to confront a person with his fate. [...] Of this I am sure: only an intolerable, impossible ordeal can give an author the means of achieving that wide-ranging vision that readers weary of the narrow limitations imposed by convention are waiting for. (Georges Bataille, Author’s Foreword, 1957.) In Blue of Noon as in all his fictions – though, to my knowledge, Blue of Noon is his most explicitly personal – Georges Bataille put his money where his mouth was. Agree with his manifesto or not (and I’ll admit the older I get the more restrictive it seems, the less adventurous, the less admirable) you can’t miss his singleminded dedication to it, which gives his best work a thrust normally felt in thrillers, though powered almost entirely by this strange writer’s obsessions. True, it’s not just the suffering but his warped take on sex that’ll compell you, but in Blue of Noon, like Hitchcock, he seems to have perfected unseen-fuelled suspense, and there’s no need to explicate what is manifest in his characters’ actions. In London, in a cellar, in a neighbourhood dive – the most squalid of unlikely places – Dirty was drunk. Utterly so. I was next to her (my hand was still bandaged from being cut by a broken glass). Dirty that day was wearing a sumptuous evening gown (I was unshaven and unkempt). As she stretched her long legs, she went into a violent convulsion. The place was crowded with men, and their eyes were getting ominous; the eyes of these perplexed men recalled spent cigars. [...] Drunkenness had committed us to dereliction, in pursuit of some grim response to the grimmest of compulsions. What I love about Bataille is his clearsightedness. And his resolve: to tell the truth about the processes at work on his dissolute narrator (a truth which we presume, and Bataille does as much as acknowledge, he could only know by having endured it) even at the nadir of that barely-sketched character’s infamy. Blue of Noon revolves around the axis of humiliation. In scene after scene we witness the urge to humiliate in the hurt and unhappy – in the narrator (Troppmann), whose failed marriage has led him via a series of prostitutes to an impotent codependence with the cruel but beautiful (or, in his eyes, beautiful because cruel) Dirty, and then into bored victimising of the lost Xenie. That despite himself he’s drawn also into the orbit of the would-be revolutionary Lazare (though more because he requires “a bird of ill omen” to keep him company than from any social conscience, which would be trite) seems merely another instance of his bullying, since one thing he knows in his bones is that Europe’s doomed, and every time he purges himself in confession to this good Christian virgin he can’t help but shock her with doom-laden pronouncements out of shame at his own helplessness. It’s ugly, but powerful. He’s far, far from a hero, but equally no villain, no death’s head, no gargoyle. What Bataille does here – and I don’t think it’s been done often – is reveal just how vulnerable a cruel man can be. Sensitive too. And aware of his own cruelty. All of which just compounds his suffering. For readers of the 2001 Penguin edition (and probably the 2012 edition), Will Self pens an impressive introduction, comparing the novel to an out-of-control car. “It is as if some cloaca God were to descend to someone who was labouring on the torture throne of constipation, and deliver them a laxative balm.” I don’t know what that means but I like it, and in general Self has some interesting things to say here, comparing “Bataille’s own view of lust as an annihilator of human difference [...] to the way the Nazis’ lust for power threatened humanity with annihilation.” (Blue of Noon is set, in various European cities, in the lead-up to the Second World War.) For those unfamiliar with Bataille, The Story of the Eye is (in English) his most famous work, though My Mother / Madame Edwarda / The Dead Man (a novel and two short works published by Marion Boyars in 1989 and 1995, and again by Penguin in 2012) is equally rich, startling and powerful. His Eroticism also comes highly recommended, but I started to grow away from his vision before I read it and have only revisited him recently from an urge to consolidate that period and set something of it in writing. Call him an influence but not a favourite. Brilliant because unique, because so few have attempted what he attempts. But doomed to circle the same terrain ad nauseum, much as it may be his own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    مینا

    To a greater or lesser extent, everyone depends on stories, on novels, to discover the manifold truth of life. Only such stories, read sometimes in a trance, have the power to confront a person with his fate. This is why we must keep passionately striving after what constitutes a story: how should we orient our efforts to renew or, rather, to perpetuate the novel? A story that reveals the possibilities of life is not necessarily an appeal; but it does appeal to a moment of fury without which To a greater or lesser extent, everyone depends on stories, on novels, to discover the manifold truth of life. Only such stories, read sometimes in a trance, have the power to confront a person with his fate. This is why we must keep passionately striving after what constitutes a story: how should we orient our efforts to renew or, rather, to perpetuate the novel? A story that reveals the possibilities of life is not necessarily an appeal; but it does appeal to a moment of fury without which its author would remain blind to these possibilities, which are those of excess.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John

    A gruelling story set in the turmoil of the 1930s. The story takes us on a journey of sexual depravity and excess with the rise of Fascism before the second world war. If is about the main character Troppmann who is out of control drinks drinking to excess and having affairs. womanises and is on the verge of despair. His wife Dirty leaves him for Brighton and he goes to Paris to go on a bender to end all benders. Not an easy story to read and you need a shower after reading it. The characters ar A gruelling story set in the turmoil of the 1930s. The story takes us on a journey of sexual depravity and excess with the rise of Fascism before the second world war. If is about the main character Troppmann who is out of control drinks drinking to excess and having affairs. womanises and is on the verge of despair. His wife Dirty leaves him for Brighton and he goes to Paris to go on a bender to end all benders. Not an easy story to read and you need a shower after reading it. The characters are mostly sinking into drunken chaos with no future. The goal appearing to be trying to drink yourself to death while being as deprive as possible. A story of losing yourself to madness before the horrors of the Second World War.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    I love this, I love it just as much as his Story of the Eye and My Mother/Madame Edwarda/The Dead Man story-set. Albeit more grim and nihilistic than anything else of his that I've read thus far, I can see a maturation in this work of his compared to his others. His eroticism days were not forgotten but simply put on lay-by for being placed in a more precise part of the story, and although the necrophilic talk was a bit much for me he does wrap it in such a poetic way that it doesn't overwhelm the I love this, I love it just as much as his Story of the Eye and My Mother/Madame Edwarda/The Dead Man story-set. Albeit more grim and nihilistic than anything else of his that I've read thus far, I can see a maturation in this work of his compared to his others. His eroticism days were not forgotten but simply put on lay-by for being placed in a more precise part of the story, and although the necrophilic talk was a bit much for me he does wrap it in such a poetic way that it doesn't overwhelm the story. The relationships in Bataille's work are always of a deep nature as opposed to many other writers' scratch-the-surface works of erotica, and the detailing throughout is exceptionally vivid as always. For me, personally, I've consumed enough of his work that I think it about time I got tucked into the biographical work that others have provided on him. I'd suggest, for future Bataille fans, to leave this to last and get through My Mother/Madame Edwarda/The Dead Man first, followed by Story of the Eye, followed by this, but that could be my bias speaking.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    I've read this book three weeks ago in scarce hours, but its female characters still haunt my mind - Lazare, Dirty. The book strongly reminded me of all the fiction I have read by Henry Miller, but it is far more elegant. The text is definetely kindred, my-poetry-like with this natural and bright promiscuity. Book includes several descriptions of somebody's or author's dreams. Intimate and not at all political, there's nothing radical in this book but its historical context barely dimly seen. Ac I've read this book three weeks ago in scarce hours, but its female characters still haunt my mind - Lazare, Dirty. The book strongly reminded me of all the fiction I have read by Henry Miller, but it is far more elegant. The text is definetely kindred, my-poetry-like with this natural and bright promiscuity. Book includes several descriptions of somebody's or author's dreams. Intimate and not at all political, there's nothing radical in this book but its historical context barely dimly seen. Actually, I wonder if being a type of a person easily succumbing to ideas of alterations of social order - an activist - isn't merely a chemical gap between a human and what an addict of endorphin our body is at times. Out of sudden, the protagonist is ready to become a kamikaze for some underlit political purpose, although the whole narration danced around his love torments/adventures in fever. I feel like I could have written this too. I picked up this book in order to establish a link between eroticism and political engagement, however it seems like this is what the book is missing..

  11. 5 out of 5

    George

    3.5 stars. An unusual, clever, gruesome, grim, concisely written novella about idle, nihilistic Troppmann and his self destructive relationships with three women. Set in 1935, mostly in Europe, where Troppmann experiences the Catalan riots and the rise of Nazism in Germany. Troppmann narrates about his relationship with unattractive Lazare, submissive Xenia and deviant Dorothea (‘Dirty’). Troppmann writes about abusiveness, drunkenness, self harm, violence and perverseness.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Brief, but scarringly debauched reminiscences of a man and his self-destructive relationships with three women (ugly Lazare, submissive Xenia and perverted Dirty) set against the rise of Nazism and the Catalan riots in 1935. Abusive, drunken, dilettante Communism, self-harm and perverse (with even a touch of necrophilia thrown in), this is not for the faint hearted, but it is powerful, nihilistic fare and despite the gruesomeness of it all, I wanted to go straight back to read parts of it again, Brief, but scarringly debauched reminiscences of a man and his self-destructive relationships with three women (ugly Lazare, submissive Xenia and perverted Dirty) set against the rise of Nazism and the Catalan riots in 1935. Abusive, drunken, dilettante Communism, self-harm and perverse (with even a touch of necrophilia thrown in), this is not for the faint hearted, but it is powerful, nihilistic fare and despite the gruesomeness of it all, I wanted to go straight back to read parts of it again, so it definitely has something.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    The nature of hot sex and fascism via the eyes of the one and only Georges Bataille. Now here's a man who knew how to have a good time. One cannot seperate the politics from the sex. Is lust an individual desire or part of the whole picture? The nature of hot sex and fascism via the eyes of the one and only Georges Bataille. Now here's a man who knew how to have a good time. One cannot seperate the politics from the sex. Is lust an individual desire or part of the whole picture?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Went searching for a Bataille novel at my local library and this was the only one currently available; in retrospect, it probably wasn't a great place to start. The style and structure is fascinating--poetic, elliptical, potent, sometimes (often?) disturbing--but I could never muster up much interest in the subject matter, which is less about sexual politics (as Bataille is famous for) and more about the perils of fascism (though this often extends to sex in Bataille's vision). I've not given up Went searching for a Bataille novel at my local library and this was the only one currently available; in retrospect, it probably wasn't a great place to start. The style and structure is fascinating--poetic, elliptical, potent, sometimes (often?) disturbing--but I could never muster up much interest in the subject matter, which is less about sexual politics (as Bataille is famous for) and more about the perils of fascism (though this often extends to sex in Bataille's vision). I've not given up on Bataille, quite the contrary actually, but despite the occasional moments of brilliance I had to admit this just didn't do a thing for me. "I got out of the car and thus beheld the starry sky overhead. Twenty years later, the boy who used to stick himself with pens was standing under the sky in a foreign street where he had never been, waiting for some unknown, impossible event. There were stars: an infinity of stars. It was absurd--absurd enough to make you scream; but it was a hostile absurdity."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is probably the least pornographic Bataille book I've read. Which means the kinky sex isn't constant, merely occasional. When I read L'Histoire de l'Oeil, I was an acid-dropping 19 year old, and extremely receptive to all things transgressive and French. I was somewhat afraid that an older, soberer self would be unimpressed by Bataille. But, if anything, he's become more powerful. The Blue of Noon is a fairly remarkable, fairly funny novel about everything and nothing. And the ending... oh m This is probably the least pornographic Bataille book I've read. Which means the kinky sex isn't constant, merely occasional. When I read L'Histoire de l'Oeil, I was an acid-dropping 19 year old, and extremely receptive to all things transgressive and French. I was somewhat afraid that an older, soberer self would be unimpressed by Bataille. But, if anything, he's become more powerful. The Blue of Noon is a fairly remarkable, fairly funny novel about everything and nothing. And the ending... oh my, what a portent.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Momina Masood

    Such gorgeous writing! Absolutely in love with Bataille! On to Nick Land's The Thirst for Annihilation. Bataille is one of those men you wish you had in your life, a distant cousin perhaps, or an unrequited love. And I'm so happy he gave a shoutout to Kafka in the appendix. So much alike, the two. And so very fascinating! Such gorgeous writing! Absolutely in love with Bataille! On to Nick Land's The Thirst for Annihilation. Bataille is one of those men you wish you had in your life, a distant cousin perhaps, or an unrequited love. And I'm so happy he gave a shoutout to Kafka in the appendix. So much alike, the two. And so very fascinating!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matthieu

    Histoire de l'oeil was quite a bit better; this one dragged on a bit. The last 35 pages or so, however, were sublime. Poor Xenie. Histoire de l'oeil was quite a bit better; this one dragged on a bit. The last 35 pages or so, however, were sublime. Poor Xenie.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have a tendency to choose short books of relatively low merit by famous authors in preference to their classic texts. This foible arises in part from a more general distrust of texts as guides to life really lived. The marginalia of 'great minds' often brings them down to earth and reminds one that little good work comes without much persistent labour. Persistent labour can, however, sometimes remove the authenticity of feeling that belongs to a particular age. 'Blue Noon' is typical of that so I have a tendency to choose short books of relatively low merit by famous authors in preference to their classic texts. This foible arises in part from a more general distrust of texts as guides to life really lived. The marginalia of 'great minds' often brings them down to earth and reminds one that little good work comes without much persistent labour. Persistent labour can, however, sometimes remove the authenticity of feeling that belongs to a particular age. 'Blue Noon' is typical of that sort of work that gets pushed late to the public when other work has brought a man to prominence. The author is both flattered and resigned. Bataille's curt foreward to the 1957 first edition of this 1935 novella tells us as much. Others have prevailed on him to publish the manuscript, he no longer thinks like the late thirty-something man he was then (he has, indeed, 'moved on' as we say now) and he tries to explain that the ham-fisted clumsy style of the work is deliberate (which at least relieves us from the mistake of blaming some hapless translator for its leaden sentences). So why bother with the book? Try treating it as a companion piece to the Henry Miller rant that we reviewed at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33... - two literary males trying to cope with a world where sex is pushed into the realm of the near-criminal and where both are trying to find a way of expressing their true natures. In this context, it is a social document of sorts, set amongst the bien-pensant prosperous and idle French middle classes of the 1930s who were adopting leftist views without enthusiasm or understanding and sensing the cataclysm to come. Bataille was part of the Surrealist movement and the book is an uneasy marriage of dream sequence and realism - a brave attempt perhaps but unsatisfactory. And if Bataille is open about its clumsiness as a text, who are we to argue? The number of repetitions of the word 'ridiculous' alone are, well, ridiculous. The hero is a whining, lacrymose, self-absorbed (apparently once self-harming) rather nasty, sickly, death-obsessed, depressive and mildly sadistic figure without character whose attempts to cope with a wife, a mistress, a mother-in-law, a lover and an odd sort of anti-woman, a political activist, are played out across Europe - London, Paris, Vienna, Catalonia (oh, how we miss Orwell's insights) and the Rhine Valley with a cast of walk on servants, gilded youth, anarchists, communists and young bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Nazis. Not forgetting a dream trip to the Soviet Union. All in under 130 pages! The woman are not much better than our depressed and depressing hero. The wife with two kids left in Brighton and her mother come across as the most sympathetic characters probably because they are so thinly sketched. None are more than creatures of our 'hero's' tale. I may not always be the sharpest card in the deck when it comes to 'literature' but the obscurities and failures to communicate emotion, at least beyond the lachrymose and 'ridiculous', really do pall after a while. The mistress and the lover are neurotic - the political activist cold and disturbed in an entirely different way as if a woman (or perhaps a man) who was not lachrymose, suicidal and lying wasted on their beds periodically was bound to become a political fanatic. Everyone is weak and moody. Yawn! At one point we have the two neurotic women separately heading for Barcelona with the political activist in situ and what could have been a diverting comedy of manners or a tragedy of love turns into a rather dreary and sordid shuffling of persons around rooms while a general strike and some shooting goes on outside. So why keep the book in the library? Because, as I noted above, it is striving to tell us something about the mind of the powerless lost souls of its time despite itself, about the ones who had no ideology and just wanted to live, but were surrounded by fanatics. The sex, by the way, is abrupt, honest in its way and real enough but don't let anyone sell this to you as under the counter pornography - the sex is just a metaphor for despair and rage and little more. Now here's the spoiler because Bataille lets us into the secret of the book in a short exchange at the end: Henri, listen - I know I'm a freak, but I sometimes wish there would be a war ... This is a book about those who could see the cataclysm coming in the fanaticism of those around them and who just wanted the storm to break to put them out of their misery. To have something happen. Some would have actively sought war through fanaticism, whether that of the militarism of the Right or that of the reluctant revolutionary action of the Left, each feeding off the other, but the hysteria of the central character represents the real hysteria of the age - a shrill hope that the whole thing just go ahead because the tension was becoming unbearable! No wonder that in 1957, our fifty-something writer wanted to make it clear that his opinion had changed - the bloodletting proved to be a lot nastier than anyone had envisaged. Sartre wrote 'Nausea' in 1938 and, in addition to the general air of absurdity, there are moments when Bataille, in his observations of three years earlier, gets close to the imagery of the greater work. Since it is unlikely that Sartre read this work, either Bataille fiddled with the manuscript on the quiet later or this sense of 'nausea' (he uses the term) was widespread in European 'liberal' society. It is like the general air of despair amongst our middle classes as they contemplate the possibility that our society has broken down domestically as a result of the ideological 'war' betweem progressives and neo-liberals. There is another reason to keep the book in the library - a few moments of brilliant clarity. Small sections - most notably at the very beginning and at the very end - give us small prose poems of desperate depravity that are filmic in quality. Another writer of the period bears comparison - Antonin Artaud, whose equally hysterical 'Heliogabulus' (reviewed rather negatively and not remaining in the library at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/75... ). Artaud and Bataille in this respect are two thin wedges from the past and the future respectively. Artaud writes as the last of the decadents and chooses an anti-modernist chaotic stance seeking to revel in the horrors to come and seeking comfort in insanity and paganism. Bataille writes as a confused Catholic-modernist and proto-existentialist avant la lettre periodically seeking immolation and death (albeit as a pose)as the tide of chaos created by competing rigid alternate conceptions of order rises. Artaud is working in the context of dionysiac theatre and Bataille thinks like a post war film maker before his time. The presiding philosophers are a forgotten Nietzche and, despite a Catholic faith that is not present in this book, a Sartre yet to be discovered. The point here is that the marginalia of literature often conspires to give us a better picture of the stresses of society than the great works. Artaud, Bataille and Miller are all, in their different ways, responding to a damaged failing bourgeois society that had repressed sexual passion and ecstasy. The failures saw this repression displaced into ideologies that competed to show off their ability to engage in violence for 'rational' ends. Things are much better now but the beast of psychic repression still lurks around our politics, waiting to return if it were but to be let it in. So this unattactive self-indulgent short book has its small uses but reserve it for a day when you really have nothing much else to do. And, by the way, do not bother with the equally obscure and portentous 1982 introduction by Ken Hollings - life is short and you do not need to waste precious moments of your life trying to make sense of it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Loftus

    4.5. Most disturbing book I’ve read in a while. “The train lost no time in departing.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    It starts off in a world of deliberately crude debauchery and even cruder frequent weeping by its protagonist. As it goes on the backdrop of political events comes to the fore, as the protagonist travels from London to Vienna to Paris to Barcelona to Nazi Germany, all in 1935. The relationship between the personal wretchedness and the general European slide into Fascism is not at all obvious, yet demands further thought. I don't know yet what to think of the book, but it has me thinking. It starts off in a world of deliberately crude debauchery and even cruder frequent weeping by its protagonist. As it goes on the backdrop of political events comes to the fore, as the protagonist travels from London to Vienna to Paris to Barcelona to Nazi Germany, all in 1935. The relationship between the personal wretchedness and the general European slide into Fascism is not at all obvious, yet demands further thought. I don't know yet what to think of the book, but it has me thinking.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    Interesting for the contemporaneous history. Spain, France, Austria, Germany 1935

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dmitri Akers

    I wanted to love this more, but I'm afraid I only enjoyed it. This might have been due to my staying at hospital and not really being one-hundred percent cognizant when I read the second half (I was doped up after surgery). The prose is always stunning in Bataille, but here his imagery and themes were thin or absent; it was not as powerful as Story of the Eye. This novella, whilst having all the elements I thought I'd enjoy, is not as compelling or titillating or shocking, as his erotica should I wanted to love this more, but I'm afraid I only enjoyed it. This might have been due to my staying at hospital and not really being one-hundred percent cognizant when I read the second half (I was doped up after surgery). The prose is always stunning in Bataille, but here his imagery and themes were thin or absent; it was not as powerful as Story of the Eye. This novella, whilst having all the elements I thought I'd enjoy, is not as compelling or titillating or shocking, as his erotica should be. The story takes place during the Spanish Civil War and seems to be Bataille's own reflection on war. Perhaps he is somewhat like the main character (an anti-hero of sorts) who recalls his sexual encounters with various women, his guilt around his seemingly unrestrained and impossible urge to commit infidelity, and his various drinking bouts with Dirty (an alcoholic woman who may not love him or even have fun sex with, but who he is drawn to), mainly to the reader and some girls, Lazare and Xenie. The heavy conscience of the main character, Henri, is shown through his weeping and regret over his actions, also he gets Lazare to read him his wife's dreams about being murdered. Thinking it is his fault she has such dreams, he reverts to a crying baby. Of course, Bataille deals a lot with death, sensuality, sex, war, death, loss, excess, transgression, and the macabre. Some of the plot points seemed a little strange, as well as the constant skepticism that Henri has for Marxism, mainly that it seems messianic and violent (he constantly likens revolution to 'virgin blood'). It seems at times to be both a celebration, exploration, and condemnation of proletarian revolutions, particularly the one in Spain (if there even was one there). The political inclinations of the other characters are pretty much all the time derided by the smarmy Henri, who thinks that some communists have communist lines that go against the Communist Party. The orgasm sometimes feels like it is not even the main concern of Henri, or he is not impotent, but he finally falls in love with Dirty while they precariously fuck on a cliff's edge. I think that this might stand in for limit-experience, as both finally cry after cumming near certain death, confessing tearily their love to one another. But it seems the characters may not make it after all, since Henri looks up at a Nazi, his eyes an Aryan blue, heralding the eventual murder of the people there.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tam Sothonprapakonn

    What is the common element shared by lust and fascism? Possibly--as I believe Bataille argues in this hallucinatory, haunting novel--the sheer homogenizing force, that which indiscriminately reduces human beings into mere means to an end, be it sexual or political (or maybe the two are not so distinctly separable after all?) Not as transgressive nor sexually explicit as Story of the Eye, the novel is situated firmly in a historical context (sprawling from the Spanish Civil War to the Catalan Gener What is the common element shared by lust and fascism? Possibly--as I believe Bataille argues in this hallucinatory, haunting novel--the sheer homogenizing force, that which indiscriminately reduces human beings into mere means to an end, be it sexual or political (or maybe the two are not so distinctly separable after all?) Not as transgressive nor sexually explicit as Story of the Eye, the novel is situated firmly in a historical context (sprawling from the Spanish Civil War to the Catalan General Strike) and therefore much more political in its message: Bataille's erotic subversion indiscriminately blazes through Marxist, the decadent bourgeois, and the rising Fascist ideologies alike. The delirious, perpetually intoxicated narrator is poised between these three political axes, represented by three different female figures. Confusion slowly escalates into anarchy as the women are brought to ruination by the narrator's uncontrollable perversion, finally culminating in a sinister orchestrated finale: the politically disinterested narrator succumbs to the affective musical performance by a pack of Hitler Youths. Unsettlingly prophetic work, considering the fact that it was written in 1935.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Oryx

    Far tamer than I expected it to be, and it kind of felt undercut by the author's afterword stroke introduction in the back of my edition. Nevertheless I enjoyed the layers of existentialist symbolism and contrast between war and erotic depravity, filth, dirt, lust, sickness etc. 3.698 Far tamer than I expected it to be, and it kind of felt undercut by the author's afterword stroke introduction in the back of my edition. Nevertheless I enjoyed the layers of existentialist symbolism and contrast between war and erotic depravity, filth, dirt, lust, sickness etc. 3.698

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Where everything started

  26. 5 out of 5

    Feebrecht

    very relatable

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel

    Bataille: Blue of Noon (This review includes a cautionary spoiler that does not divulge the ending or ruin the narrative tension.) Nothing is flattered in “Blue of Noon.” The backdrop of Europe’s march towards jingoism and war seems to be offered as cover fire for the unrepentant mess of Bataille’s frivolous, cruel and debauched characters. The various women on whom the parasitic narrator feeds are at different stages of their own personal decomposition, up to and including his own dead mother. Ye Bataille: Blue of Noon (This review includes a cautionary spoiler that does not divulge the ending or ruin the narrative tension.) Nothing is flattered in “Blue of Noon.” The backdrop of Europe’s march towards jingoism and war seems to be offered as cover fire for the unrepentant mess of Bataille’s frivolous, cruel and debauched characters. The various women on whom the parasitic narrator feeds are at different stages of their own personal decomposition, up to and including his own dead mother. Yes, if Bataille’s big surprise is going to be that the narrator has fucked the corpse of his dead mother, I’m going to raise a flag so that would-have-been-unsuspecting-readers don’t actually have to go there. Of course, most people approach Bataille with the knowledge that he will attempt to be shocking or “perverse” or with the hopes that his prose will eroticize something unlikely in a thought-provoking way. Perhaps, Bataille is responding to such appetites with a punitive tableau intended to show that even the most unflinching readers can still be cowed by something abhorrent; but I don’t truly suspect him of such a moralistic or vengeful act. The fortified taboo that he places at the rotten core of his first-person narrator is more likely a summons to a whole series of psychoanalytical operations that would unravel the quartet of women named Xenie, Lazare, Dirty and Dead Mother. The progression is a bit self-evident and clearly overlaps with the succession of sick bodies, dead bodies, dying bodies, vomiting bodies, wax bodies, doll bodies, play coffins, dream coffins and real coffins which display a similar symbolic circularity to the eyes and eggs and testicles in Bataille’s “Story of the Eye.” All of this could prove quite diverting to some readers; but I’m not currently that fascinated by this sort of writing. As a break from pure theory and philosophy, a novel in the tradition of Blanchot or Bataille, can be refreshing; but when such double-freighted works are introduced to the less overburdened company of good literature, they can seem a bit like a chore. However, the prose of Bataille’s novel moves quickly and has more in common with detective fiction or the swagger of novels wherein protagonists are quite proud of their glamorous self-destruction, than it does with critical theory. I thought this was because of Bataille’s humor; but when I went in search of examples of this, I realized that it might be stretching to define his crisper moments as comical: “Even in her debauchery, there was such candor in her that I sometimes wanted to grovel at her feet . . . Her mean, hunted look was driving me insane. She stopped—I think her legs were squirming under her dress. There was no doubt that she was about to start raving.” “When she came into the bar, her frazzled, black silhouette in the doorway seemed, in this fief of luck and wealth, a pointless incarnation of disaster; but I would jump up and guide her to my table.” “What I loved in her was her hatred: I loved the sudden ugliness, the dreadful ugliness that hate stamped on her features.” And, “I needed to stop thinking about myself, at least for the time being. I needed to think about other people and reassure myself that inside his own skull each was alive.” One feels that if the narrator had heeded this last statement more successfully, the book might have seemed more dimensional and human, which could actually have made it more shocking. I don’t regret reading this book. It kept me entertained and had some memorable lines. But its guts are rotten and the prose can seem rushed in odd contrast to its deliberate plotline.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ben Richmond

    The book's back cover talks about how, set in between the world wars, this book takes place in the shadow of fascism, and indeed the characters travel to Spain on the cusp of war, and run into some Hitler Youth in the forest. I guess I was looking for something that felt relevant to the moment, yet I have absolutely no idea what Blue of Noon has to say about now. Like some sort of Rousseau who loves getting drunk and peeing on the floor, the characters are deeply into debasement as a sort of int The book's back cover talks about how, set in between the world wars, this book takes place in the shadow of fascism, and indeed the characters travel to Spain on the cusp of war, and run into some Hitler Youth in the forest. I guess I was looking for something that felt relevant to the moment, yet I have absolutely no idea what Blue of Noon has to say about now. Like some sort of Rousseau who loves getting drunk and peeing on the floor, the characters are deeply into debasement as a sort of intoxicating freedom. Is that radically individualist? Or is it universal, something we all can (should?) do? Frankly, to me, it feels like there's enough people pissing all over the place. But it fits into my general Henry Miller, George Orwell, Movable Feast getting down and dirty in Paris in the thirties thing, and despite a really clean, minimal text (translation by Harry Mathews?) there are moments of beautiful and funny turns of phrase. I don't know, it was like 140 pages. A real breeze.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Keulemans

    Just prior to the end of the book I already felt more than ready to tear down the person behind this book with an unrelenting review, leaving him in nothing but torn pieces without identity, soul or spirit. The end of the book, however, obstructed this desire and made me reconsider at least parts of my idea about this book and the experience of reading it. I was excited to start diving into the literature of a man who has always been looking for limit situations, situations on the border of the Just prior to the end of the book I already felt more than ready to tear down the person behind this book with an unrelenting review, leaving him in nothing but torn pieces without identity, soul or spirit. The end of the book, however, obstructed this desire and made me reconsider at least parts of my idea about this book and the experience of reading it. I was excited to start diving into the literature of a man who has always been looking for limit situations, situations on the border of the real, of morale, the ‘normal’ (whatever that may be), the acceptable or accessible, the conceivable. I had prepared for something vulgar and obscene, to avoid the potential scenario of being hit by constantly succeeding vulgarisms and heavily sexualized scenes, with which the author plans to shock their reader and, in a way, take pleasure in provoking them and pushing them away. Furthermore, after having read Jean Genet’s Diary of a thief I have been more than prepared for dealing with radical French authors that take pleasure in telling the tales of the excessive, the absurd, the obscene, those experiences that have crossed the limit of proper and acceptable experience and are, by most people, not considered part of the real world. Nevertheless I have been left confused by Bataille’s Le blue du ciel, not so much because of its vulgarisms, its obscenities in the form of a pretty constant drunkenness (remember Baudelaire here: il faut être toujours ivre), a constant desire for extreme sexuality and a proper thanatos, a desire towards death that translates into necrophilia, a tendency toward dead bodies, murder and abuse - but mostly and above all by the emptiness of Bataille’s person himself. My main question after reading this book is simple: who was this man? What made him him? What was inside of him that made him the person he was? I have, maybe fortunately, not known the man, but my answers wouldn’t be too generous - although I think Bataille himself would be very pleased, if not excited and turned on, if his person and personality was judged in a radically negative way. Because, in the end, what is this man? For me, I would and could only answer this question in such a way that it concludes that Bataille cannot be himself without the instrumentalization of other people, especially and mainly women, and constantly looking for an outer-self experience by drugging himself up with copious amounts of alcohol. I never felt in the presence of Bataille himself - perhaps only in the last chapter of the book - as he was only getting drunk and finding his pleasure and worthiness to live in the outer-experience of not-being-himself but being drunk and without the limits of the self. And that, for me, is one thing, a thing that I can, to be very honest, relate to and handle very well.. The most pressing and obnoxious feature about these writings, however, are those moments - and they are very, very frequent - in which Bataille can only define himself and offer himself the moments of a life that is, for him, worth living, on the basis of the instrumentalization, brutalization and psychological abuse of women. However much he claims to love them, and how much he is attracted by the limit situations also in women - for example, it seems that Bataille is more attracted by the most “ugly” women rather than by the most attractive women - it seems that he is incapable of respecting them fully and properly. He is constantly condemning their ugliness, their annoying presence; he cannot but get fed up with them, incessantly talking negatively to his male friends about his female friends. However, then it comes: as Bataille is a troubled and deeply tragic soul, something that I can normally very much appreciate in authors, he takes these moments as acts of reconciliation towards women, he falls for them, he crawls and bows for them, all to attain one goal: to be loved and touched, to be welcomed and petted as a poor child, crying in the lap of his mother, whom he actually, deeply and sincerely, hates. He seems to be janus-faced towards women: he openly and unapologetically hates them, despises them, and is constantly annoyed by them; but whenever he feels alone, he is down and out, be it in Paris or Barcelona, the first he tends to do is to contact the women he think will be fallible victims for his childlike cries of despair and loneliness, only to deceive them, use and abuse them and dispose them when he has enough of them, only to return again when he feels like dying. To go very shorty, and with the same rigor and radicality as Bataille himself, I think Bataille is a sexist drunk who mostly finds himself and who’s person is validated in the instrumental (ab)use of women, through which he is capable of running away, escaping from himself, as he himself cannot offer any satisfaction to himself nor validate himself in living a proper and useful life. This becomes all the more clear in light of his response to and engagement with the revolutionary happenings in Barcelona at the end of this book. The first and foremost thing you will find about Bataille is his love for those extreme, absurd situations that make death come closer and make him, through this paradox, feel that he is living. He escapes life and seeks death through his drinking, he escapes life and seeks death through the sexual and erotic relationships he has with women, which often involve deeply meaningful symbolisms relating to death, origin, or end (as does his erotic experience with Dirty in the night, under the stars, at the graveyard), and he escapes life and seeks death by pulling people in and pushing them away in the most inhuman and immoral ways imaginable, leaving him alone and tragically put down by his own stupidity and obscenity. However, when he has the ultimate opportunity to experience a living situation in which death stands around the corner in the form of the enemy shooting bullets at the political dissidents, he is nowhere to be seen, and he will stay inside, in his room, watching from a safe distance, observing the politics of the streets with a distant eye, afraid of the violence and insecurity of the clash with power, afraid for standing for something until death do you a part, afraid for the real and sober reality of what life is, and how closely life and death are related. Fully aware of building this relentless judgment on Bataille on only one of his books, which is a mere 150 pages thick - this choice of Bataille, to stand and watch the tragedy of confrontational politics without engaging, symbolizes, for me, his absolute defeat and proves the emptiness of his body and spirit. If Bataille chooses to constantly evade and escape, provoke and instrumentalize life in order to reach short moments of erotic and interpersonal pleasure, but stands still and paralyzed, hides and denies himself when the moment to truly dive into a life that is bordered by a frighteningly near death, a momentous instance of true and real life, has come, then what is Bataille but a drunk, sexist coward who screams loudly about the death in life but hushes in front of it.. Thomas Keulemans 26-04-2020

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    My friend told me about all the attention she got from older men while reading Bataille on the Paris Subway. I wonder if it will provoke the same kind of reaction in NY? No one seemed to notice the book, despite it's erotic cover (not the same you see on the picture here). I am probably lucky they didn't. I picked up Blue of Noon because I was interested in the way Bataille supposedly wrote about sex as a subversive force. I say supposedly because I don't think he did. Sex to Bataille is certainly My friend told me about all the attention she got from older men while reading Bataille on the Paris Subway. I wonder if it will provoke the same kind of reaction in NY? No one seemed to notice the book, despite it's erotic cover (not the same you see on the picture here). I am probably lucky they didn't. I picked up Blue of Noon because I was interested in the way Bataille supposedly wrote about sex as a subversive force. I say supposedly because I don't think he did. Sex to Bataille is certainly connected to power, but I am not sure if I think it is the kind of power that can transgress conventional boundaries and change the form of the world. Sex is the tool and measure of the male protagonists power to control women. There is only one occasion, in the books most erotic scene, where sex is more than that. In the passage where the protagonist fucks on a starry graveyard he conquers more than the woman but also his fear of death. Large and pervasive as that fear may be, I don't think it explains how sex is or can be a subversive force. Blue of Noon was not very interesting to me, it was despite all the praise by people like Sartre, Sontag and Foucault yet another story of a rich young man that turns his self loathing into misogyny.

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