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Like water in water

Susan Rubin Suleiman, 12 July 1990

Theory of Religion 
by Georges Bataille, translated by Robert Hurley.
Zone, 126 pp., £16.25, April 1989, 0 942299 08 6
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My Mother, Madame Edwarda, The Dead Man 
by Georges Bataille, translated by Austryn Wainhouse.
Boyars, 222 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7145 2886 2
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... they most certainly were – and therein lies their charm (if that’s the right word), as well as Georges Bataille’s importance as a writer. One could have heard just such an argument from the French avant-garde writers and philosophers of the Sixties and Seventies – Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva, Sollers – who made ...

Dirty’s Story

Mark Polizzotti, 28 November 1996

The Collected Writings 
by Laure, translated by Jeanine Herman.
City Lights, 314 pp., $13.95, August 1995, 0 87286 293 3
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... for her tortured, inspired relationships with several prominent French intellectuals, most notably Georges Bataille. And although this edition of her collected writings seeks to correct that impression, its ultimate effect is only to reinforce it. By the time one emerges from this compilation of autobiographical and biographical sketches by and about ...

At Tate Modern

Jeremy Harding: Giacometti, 17 August 2017

... of brilliant commentary. There are many entries here for the writers who took up with him – Georges Bataille, Michel Leiris, Sartre and Beauvoir, Jean Genet and others – though none under B for Beckett, and none for John Berger, who was cool at first, then much warmer, coming under fire from David Sylvester – another S – for disparaging ...

At the Ikon Gallery

Brian Dillon: Jean Painlevé , 1 June 2017

... October 1924. Painlevé had taken a personal dislike to André Breton, and had more in common with Georges Bataille, who reproduced photographs from Painlevé’s film of crabs and shrimps in his journal Documents. A text by Jacques Baron makes the expected connection with Nerval’s pet lobster (‘a gentle animal, affable and clean’); next to it are ...

Short Cuts

Joanna Biggs: Marguerite Duras, 6 October 2016

... Bank open from dawn until dusk. Home, she thought, ought to be open to the outside: to her friends Georges Bataille and Maurice Blanchot, to Alain Resnais and Delphine Seyrig, to those who simply rang the bell on the rue Saint-Benoît, like the Italian journalist Leopoldina Pallotta della Torre. (It helped that she had brought a hunk of Parmesan; it was ...

At Turner Contemporary

Eleanor Birne: ‘Curiosity’, 18 July 2013

... of agates, alabaster, quartz and jasper put together by Roger Caillois, a collaborator of Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris, to a vitrine displaying tiny artworks made from split lengths of human hair, collected by the artist Susan Hiller, to Richard Wentworth’s snapshots of traffic cones or abandoned gloves or old boots. Some of the objects ...

Cards on the Table

Mary Ann Caws: Robert Desnos and Surrealism for the masses, 3 June 2004

Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvellous in Everyday Life 
by Katharine Conley.
Nebraska, 270 pp., £37.95, March 2004, 0 8032 1523 1
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... at the rue du Château, the split between the rather prudish Breton and the definitely not prudish Georges Bataille (‘Bataillean Surrealism’ insists on the carnal and the low: see Rosalind Krauss’s brilliant studies in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, with the big toe, which was important to ...

Sedan Chairs and Turtles

Leland de la Durantaye: Benjamin’s Baudelaire, 21 November 2013

Charles Baudelaire: Un poeta lirico nell’età del capitalismo avanzato 
by Walter Benjamin, edited by Giorgio Agamben, Barbara Chitussi and Clemens-Carl Härle.
Neri Pozza, 927 pp., €23, December 2012, 978 88 545 0623 7
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... to his favourite place in Paris, the Bibliothèque nationale. When he got there he gave them to Georges Bataille, a head librarian there, for safekeeping. Hours before the German army entered Paris with an order to arrest him, Benjamin left the city with ‘nothing but a gas mask and my toiletries’. What happened next – the attempted escape by way ...

Something that Wasn’t There

Lili Owen Rowlands: Daddy Lacan, 20 June 2019

A Father: Puzzle 
by Sibylle Lacan, translated by Adrian Nathan West.
MIT, 92 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 0 262 03931 4
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... younger than her. In 1938, when Malou was pregnant with Thibaut, Lacan met with the actress Sylvia Bataille at the Café de Flore. Attractive and bohemian, and having recently separated from her husband, Georges Bataille, Sylvia soon became Lacan’s lover. Although Malou knew of her husband’s infidelities, on a ...

English Words and French Authors

John Sturrock, 8 February 1990

A New History of French Literature 
edited by Denis Hollier.
Harvard, 1280 pp., £39.95, October 1989, 0 674 61565 4
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... Carolyn Dean comes within three italic characters of making the volume’s one joke, when she has Georges Bataille dismissing Sade’s new-found admirers as ‘con artists’). Of the women writers for whom admission to the canon is demanded, one, George Sand, has surely never been dropped from it, but another, the late 18th-century novelist, Isabelle de ...

Ackerville

Gary Indiana: Nymphomania, antic incest and metaphysical torment, 14 December 2006

Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker 
edited by Amy Scholder, Carla Harryman and Avital Ronell.
Verso, 120 pp., £10.99, May 2006, 9781844670666
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... with schizophrenia. Avital Ronell stresses Acker’s long preoccupation with the writings of Georges Bataille and – a surprise to me – the baleful Derrida. Carla Harryman, one of Acker’s longest-standing friends and associates, comes closest to suggesting that there was often a considerable disparity between what Acker thought she was doing ...

‘Ulysses’ and Its Wake

Tom McCarthy, 19 June 2014

... But this materialism should not be confused with empiricism. On the contrary, it’s what Georges Bataille, in his ‘Critical Dictionary’, calls ‘base materialism’. For Bataille, the positivist materialism of science or the dialectical materialism of Marxism are nothing more than Christianity in ...

The Last Hundred Days

Peter Wollen: Kassel’s Mega-Exhibition, 3 October 2002

Documenta 11 
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... particularly eccentric outpost, Thomas Hirschhorn’s plywood and packing tape temple in honour of Georges Bataille, was erected in the middle of a low-income housing project. Documenta, whose original mission had been to celebrate Germany’s new postwar identity and the transnational role of Kassel as a centre of culture, has now become an amazingly ...

Not a Pretty Sight

Jenny Diski: Who Are You Calling Ugly?, 24 January 2008

On Ugliness 
edited by Umberto Eco.
Harvill Secker, 455 pp., £30, October 2007, 978 1 84655 122 2
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... diabolical and the exotic; excrement; old age; women; Africans; disease; lesbians; Jews; and for Georges Bataille the big toe and the putrefaction of flowers, which he manages to bind to age and misogyny: ‘flowers don’t age honestly like leaves, which lose none of their beauty even after they are dead; flowers wither like simpering, overly made-up ...

Writing Machines

Tom McCarthy: On Realism and the Real, 18 December 2014

... real is – what it’s made of. In the Critical Dictionary (to which Leiris also contributed), Georges Bataille (whose short novel Story of the Eye contains the most stunning matador-goring episode in all literature – forget Hemingway) addresses the idea of ‘formlessness’: they imagine a philosophy and aesthetics, or counter-aesthetics, in which ...

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