Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille

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Hiiiiiii readers, interesting post for you today and I’m just going to throw in a trigger warning here right at the beginning. I tend to avoid books where I would need to say approach with caution but I couldn’t not review this because it may just be the most shocking book I have ever had the chance to read. In the book there are numerous quite distressing sexual scenes, there is a lot of human feces flowing and it’s a bit much – so be careful.

Before you ask; why the hell were you reading this – it was T’s fault. He’s one of these readers who likes to read the stuff that everyone talks about but not always for the best of reasons. Normally classic fiction (he’s currently reading A Clockwork Orange) he also has a thing for weird books. We were reading in the garden on a sunny afternoon. I was reading a thriller and I looked over and couldn’t ignore what I saw there; right then I decided to read it the next time I had some book free time. Here I am today reviewing for you The Story of the Eye. It might not be pretty, it might not be sane, but it’s here either way.

In 1928, Georges Bataille published this first novel under a pseudonym, a legendary shocker that uncovers the dark side of the erotic by means of forbidden obsessive fantasies of excess and sexual extremes. A classic of pornographic literature, Story of the Eye finds the parallels in Sade and Nietzsche and in the investigations of contemporary psychology; it also forecasts Bataille’s own theories of ecstasy, death and transgression which he developed in later work.

The best way to explain this book is that is has been obviously written to shock; it’s an unabashed collection of disturbing eroticism, sadism, insanity, surrealism and violence. This book is really a series of sexual encounters – over and over again we are given story after story full of surreal sexual violence and attack. The short read simply revolves around a male’s desire and fascination with a friend Simone and a young girl names Marcelle. The three flirt and indulge in truly shocking games; in one particularly shocking episode Marcelle reacts terribly, coming out of her coquettish nature and loses her mind. Insitutionalised Simone and our male character break her out of said asylum. From here I think Bataille loses it and the plot loses control. I’m not going to say any more because it’s too difficult to write about and my mother reads my blog so I’m not going to go into too much detail but there’s a lot of unconstrained, very pornographic sex. 

I was a little repulsed by this book; the amount of urine that is passed during the sexual encounters was not only difficult to read about but was terribly misogynistic. It’s animalistic, and Simone has a penchant for eggs; there are a good few pages where Simone throws said eggs into the toilet and there her obsession grows to an obscene amount. The final scene is an aggressive orgy event; here we see the three kill a man and use his dead body as part of the proceedings. So yes, that’s a thing.

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Did I enjoy this? No? Am I glad I’ve read it, yes? (is that a weird thing to say?) I’ve never read something quite so out there and aggressive in nature. I’m not sure why it’s been written other than the author to say – right I’m just going write whatever the hell I want and see what people say about it. This is not necessarily a bad thing but there’s just no more too it really; it feels as like what is the worst thing I could put down on paper? The writing swells and fades but at times it takes a nature that is so truly warped it’s a little difficult to truly understand what is happening however that may be me and my difficulty to read what I was supposed to be reading. The characters aren’t fully formed – probably because that’s not the point on the book ie a story but it does create an even more surreal feel to the book as a whole.

Overall, I am very glad I’ve read this despite its truly shocking nature just for the sheer fact I have never and am unlikely to read anything like it ever again. Would I recommend it, no I’m not going to quite do that, but if any of my darling readers have read this let me know what you thought in le comments. That would be rather lovely.

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  1. November 21, 2015 / 3:24 pm

    I have been looking into various classic books to read recently and this book has me both intrigued and disgusted lol. I like to read things that shock me and others. I also like things that are different, but I am a little hesitant to read it, but it sounds like an interest read all the same. If I do decide to read it I will let you know if I survived through it.

    • November 23, 2015 / 10:19 am

      Definitely do! It wasn’t something I planned on reading but as T had bought it I thought it won’t hurt – must say it was shocking but also a really interesting read. Also incredibly difficult to review but I think I just about managed it.

  2. November 23, 2015 / 12:18 pm

    I would imagine it would be difficult, but I think it was great :-)!

  3. December 30, 2015 / 10:43 pm

    I missed this review first time round, but I saw it on Amazon while I was looking the book up from its write up on another blog. Loved your review, although I have to say it sounds like a book I could never bring myself to read.

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