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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Blue of Noon (1957) by Georges Bataille

Georges Bataille
Book Review
Blue of Noon (1957)
by Georges Bataille

   George Bataille is something of an outlier in the outer precincts of 20th century culture.  He was active at the same time and places as the surrealist, but he wasn't a surrealist.  He was popular when the existentialists were popular, and with the same people, but didn't get along with the big existentialists.  He was influential on Foucault, Badrillard and Derrida and is generally associated withe the literature and study of "transgression."

  Blue of Noon, about a decadent intellectual who spends his time drinking and carrying on with three different women, was written in the mid 1930s but not published until 1957, presumably because it is and was a legitimately shocking novel in terms of its forthright depiction of junkie sex and substance abuse.

 Henri Troppmann is a literary figure in the vein of a Henry Miller protagonist, or perhaps more accurately an updated type from Joris-Karl Huysmans' 1882 classic, Against Nature.   Bataille adds the dark psycho-sexual twist that would be so popular with later 20th century avant-gardes.  At the same time Bataille didn't make a deep impression with the average reading public, and his works remain relatively hard to come by- I think the San Diego Public Library keeps Blue of Noon "off the shelf" requiring patrons to actually request it.  Having read it, I understand why, but still.   The first English translation was only made in 1978.

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