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Erotism: Death and Sensuality

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,762 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Taboo and sacrifice, transgression and language, death and sensuality—Georges Bataille pursues these themes with an original, often startling perspective. He challenges any single discourse on the erotic. The scope of his inquiry ranges from Emily Bronte to Sade, from St. Therese to Claude Levi-Strauss and Dr. Kinsey; and the subjects he covers include prostitution, mythic ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights Publishers (first published 1957)
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Oct 17, 2012 Tyler rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Students of Intellectual History
Shelves: non-fiction
You won’t stick your hand down your bathing suit ever again after reading this. Bataille will see to that. And yet this author's misgivings about the erotic seem somehow misplaced. They serve as springboards to jump off on tangents. Our writer throws in a bunch of psychoanalysis, too, but only insofar as it gets us to the religious take on man’s psychic esoterica.

But first let’s look at what Bataille gets right.

He starts with "continuity," an aspiration that for humans is the essence of being.
Jan 23, 2012 Kukushka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Erotism is the affirmation of life, even in death" - Georges Bataille.

Sex and death, the sacred and the profane, the longing for the divine... Bataille mixes philosophy and anthropology to talk about eroticism, touching a wide range of subjects, from human sacrifice and cannibalism to the Christian notion of sin and that which is diabolical. A must read!
Jul 30, 2009 Dan rated it liked it
Shelves: anthropology
Employing structuralist-anthropological categories like the taboo and transgression, and existential categories like anguish, nausea and horror, this philosophical work on human sexuality analyzes eroticism in terms of violence, religion and death. In the latter half of the book, Bataille comments on others who have written on human sexuality. For instance, he writes critically of Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior In The Human Male, Volume 2, which came out only three years before Bataille wrote t ...more
A strong thesis that has a lot of resonance for my own thoughts on human experience. It required fairly constant mental editorialising however to filter out the extreme gender bias, the complete ignoring of homosexuality, and a tendency to a high level of repetition. These points aside though, it was a thought provoking read that sought to cut through bourgeoise niceties and stare honestly at sex and death.
Mónica Martínez
Sep 15, 2012 Mónica Martínez rated it it was ok

Bataille hace un análisis historico para ligar los opuestos, el erotismo y la muerte. Aprendí.. más que de erotismo... un par de cosas aterradoras.


• La fenomenología batailleana del erotismo demuestra que, en su esencia, el erotismo está vinculado con la sangre, que no hay erotismo sin sangre y lo que la sangre simboliza: la muerte. “el erotismo es la aprobación de la vida hasta en la muerte”.
• El erotismo surge de la dialéctica entre lo continuo (ser) y lo discontinuo (el sujeto) que
Erik Graff
Dec 13, 2009 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bataille fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: psychology
Oh, those French! I picked this one up because I'd heard folks talk learnedly about Bataille in the same breath as Derrida, Lacan and Foucault and wanted to know what the fuss was about. Reading the cover blurb and looking at the table of contents I went on to formulate an expectation of finally finding out where people like deSade were coming from--a mystery since I covertly first read Dad's Grove Press edition in early adolescence. Well, although I found tidbits of interest herein, I did not c ...more
Mar 31, 2014 inverted_a added it
Shelves: psychology
Γράφει στην εισαγωγή της Ιστορίας του Ματιού από τις εκδόσεις Άγρα ο Δημήτρης Δημητριάδης:

>> Ο ερωτισμός δεν είναι απελευθέρωση. Ο ερωτισμός είναι μία συμπεριφορά που οδηγεί στα άκρα, δηλαδή στην αγωνία και στην πτώση, στη διακύβευση της ακεραιότητας, στο διασυρμό των αξιών, στην απώλεια, στην παράδοση άνευ όρων στα χέρια της τύχης και στην καταστροφή.

>> Ο ερωτισμός, στην περίπτωση αυτή, παίζει, για τον Μπατάιγ, κεντρικό ρόλο, γιατί ο ερωτισμός είναι απόλυτο κι απεριόριστο ξόδεμα όλω
Jodi Lu
Nov 11, 2012 Jodi Lu rated it liked it
Here's a book title and cover art that elicit some subway sideways glances if you're into that sort of sexy thing and yet can stomach relatively non-sexy - and sadly, problematic* - theory.

Now that I've read Bataille's fiction, historical non-fiction and theory (and not ever a poem but a quick google search just verified that those exist, upon which I would've bet the quite unproductive farm), I can assume his poetry has merit. He is actually a great writer but I haven't yet read him writing gre
Cate White
May 13, 2012 Cate White rated it really liked it
"...on the scale of unlimited loss we come again upon the triumph of being--whose only failure has ever been to be in tune with the movement that would have it perishable. Being joins the terrible syncopated dance of its own accord, the dance we must accept for what it is, conscious of the horror it is in key with."
Dec 12, 2008 Matthieu rated it really liked it
Marius Ghencea
Mar 22, 2017 Marius Ghencea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
L'erotismo di Bataille è un saggio indispensabile, importantissimo. Ripercorre tutto, dalla preistoria sino ad oggi stesso. Pochi quelli che capiscano cosa sia il divino.
Stephen Bird
Nov 03, 2016 Stephen Bird rated it it was amazing
I can say with certainty that this is a life changing book for me. I've started reading it for a second time as I'm sure there's a lot that I've missed. I can see how many readers could be repelled by Bataille's deconstruction of the heavy, harsh realities he grapples with. The subject matter, by itself, is brutally real. I took my time with my first reading of "Erotism" and I'm poring over it still. Some sentences jump out at me with absolute clarity; others remain murky and mysterious, refusin ...more
Robert Costic
Mar 08, 2015 Robert Costic rated it it was ok
His ideas are thought-provoking but ultimately ridiculous. Although he grudgingly admits that there are people who don't think of sex as a taboo, the bulk of his book goes on to describe all sex as a transgression of those selfsame taboos. He also misses the the significance of the Kinsey Reports, which he nevertheless discusses for a good chapter, and considering that this is a book on sexual taboos I'm a bit surprised that he never once discussed homosexuality. In fact, most of his discussion ...more
Brett Green
May 24, 2014 Brett Green rated it really liked it
The whole thing is a wonderful and blasphemous! Someone at the coffee shop asked me who Bataille was and I told him "a religious Nietzsche." Indeed, this is the case. Bataille somehow, fitting in expositions of human sacrifice, sexual violence, incest, and all other kinds of assorted weird ass shit, manages to paint the most beautiful and lascivious portrait of the night one could ever hope for while ultimately reminding us of the necessity of that ray of light of human consciousness for us to e ...more
Mar 10, 2008 Henry rated it really liked it
Contemporary - and, in many ways, antecedent to the post-structuralists who successfully crossed the pond - Bataille's work on death, eroticism, and social structure left discernable traces in Lacan's working of desire and the law and, also, in the Derridean development of deconstruction. Bataille, in a certain sense, might be thought of as an important post-War interlocutor for Nietzsche and De Sade (both of whom, for different reasons, had fallen into disrepute at the time). I'm reading this f ...more
Sep 26, 2012 Eyre rated it really liked it
The intro to this book has a lovely poetry to it and is worth re-reading. The book itself aligns taboo with anything counter to reproduction and the labor which is done for survival of the species. So the sacred and the profane are relatives, not opposites, as they do not contribute directly to work and survival. An interesting thought which is sometimes not supported so well by the dated 1950s anthropological research he uses to back up his argument. Worth reading alongside Bataille's literatur ...more
May 12, 2010 Will rated it liked it
Wandering and banal, Bataille has two novel insights in this book. The first deals with de Sade in a way that altered my perception of the late Marquis. The other discusses the Kinsey reports, both their value and the degree to which they missed the mark about human sexuality. The rest of the book discusses taboo, organized and sanctioned (sanctified) transgressions, and the ties to eroticism. In my first reading, I missed any deep message that he intended and thought that most of his points wer ...more
Picked this one cause of the title.
It really caught my attention.
It's my first read for Georges Bataille.
and I really have no idea what to think about it.
It's a Really interesting read.
There were parts that really got me interested, and then came parts that I just wanted to stop reading cause it was just so Dull and repetitive.
The part about De Sade made me do some research about him and plan to get me some of De Sade's books.
Also the part he criticized the Kinsey reports and how they observed
Tom Isaacs
Jun 23, 2015 Tom Isaacs rated it really liked it
I would give this book five stars for part one alone. I loved reading Bataille's theories on taboo and transgression. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the origins of religion, ritual, sacrifice etc.

Part two is a collection of related essays and unfortunately didn't hold my interest to the same extent. After reading the first essay I skimmed through one or two others before putting the book down altogether.
Dusty Hope
best chapters are the last. sensuality and death. mysticism and eroticism. approached as a social scientist with a specialization in taboo topics, history of human extant relationships with concentration on religious and primitive sexuality, religious taboos, transgressions into violence. some of the sentences go beyond meaning, like bugs dancing around a carcass--If you can get beyond the academics really is somewhat intoxicating.
Jan 23, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book. One of Bataille's best, in my opinion. The investigation of early religion and the relationship between religious and sexual experiences sets the stage for an understanding of Bataille's project, its relation to sacrifice and mystical experience. I taught this twice: once for Philosophy & Literature, once as a part of world religions. It completely freaked out the World Religions class. I doubt most people read it in the Philosophy & Lit course.
Adriana Scarpin
Demasiado androcêntrico e ultrapassado, mas inegavelmente válido para meus estudos sobre Hilda Hilst.
Nov 04, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing
I like to think of death as a final sexual act of some sort. There is something so beautiful in the gesture that is totally erotic. Bataille looks in the taboo and finds pleasure.
Jul 14, 2007 DEREK CROSSLEY rated it it was amazing
French philosophy that breaks down taboos, death, and sex. Check it out.
R. Peligro
Jun 23, 2016 R. Peligro rated it it was amazing
burn, baby, burn, that's all i wanna see...
Jun 07, 2007 J rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't think I am going to finish this one soon. I sometimes feel that Bataille's assessments are inaccurate and vague but this may just be my own unfamiliarity with the extent of his brainpower.
Jul 14, 2010 Ziad rated it it was amazing
Amazing for anyone interested in the connection between religion, taboo, transgression, violence, and eroticism. It is not cryptic, yet very enlightening.
Sep 12, 2016 Dana rated it did not like it
bourgeois, heteronormative, sexist, boring, no.
Nov 15, 2013 Víctor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

El libro es una obra oscura, difícil de seguir, divida en dos partes: La primera parte es un estudio sobre la prohibición y la transgresión. La segunda parte es un compendio de conferencias que orbitan alrededor del mismo tema.

Posiblemente no entendí nada, tal vez el libro va tan en contra de lo que entiendo por erotismo, que seguramente lo que diga ahora no contribuirá en nada con el análisis del problema erótico. No obstante, con la licencia que me otorga este espacio (mi espacio) intentaré es

Nov 14, 2016 d rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Diario de lectura)

Hace dos años lo leí por primera vez, vuelvo y encuentro una potencia, un atrevimiento teórico increíble. Pocas visiones de mundo tan ricas, de jardines que se bifurcan tanto como la de Bataille.

Particularmente genial el cap. sobre Sade (El lenguaje de Sade es el de la víctima; La violencia es silenciosa y el lenguaje de Sade es paradójico; El lenguaje de Sade nos aleja de la violencia...)

No puedo posponer más el estudio de Hegel, de quien sólo leí sus trabajos sobre estétic
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French essayist, philosophical theorist and novelist, often called the "metaphysician of evil." Bataille was interested in sex, death, degradation, and the power and potential of the obscene. He rejected traditional literature and considered that the ultimate aim of all intellectual, artistic, or religious activity should be the annihilation of the rational individual in a violent, transcendental ...more
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“Beauty is desired in order that it may be befouled; not for its own sake, but for the joy brought by the certainty of profaining it.” 80 likes
“There is always some limit which the individual accepts. He identifies this limit with himself. Horror seizes him at the thought that this limit may cease to be. But we are wrong to take this limit and the individual’s acceptance of it seriously. The limit is only there to be overreached. Fear and horror are not the real and final reaction; on the contrary, they are a temptation to overstep the bounds.” 26 likes
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