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Story of the Eye

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  7,585 ratings  ·  612 reviews
Bataille's first novel, published under the pseudonym 'Lord Auch', is still his most notorious work. In this explicit pornographic fantasy, the young male narrator and his lovers Simone and Marcelle embark on a sexual quest involving sadism, torture, orgies, madness and defilement, culminating in a final act of transgression. Shocking and sacrilegious, Story of the Eye is ...more
Paperback, 127 pages
Published April 26th 2001 by Penguin Books (first published 1928)
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Penguin Modern Classics
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Books with 5,001 - 10,000 Ratings
160th out of 197 books — 6 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
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ADULTS ONLY! KIDS YOU STAY AWAY!

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take the sex act and strip away the burden of reality and what do you have?

take two characters and make them fuck. you are the author and they are your puppets. they will do anything you want. does fucking equal life? can fucking be a form of transgression? so be it, make it so. add another character. a menage! subtract that character, the poor thing. have your characters fuck right next to her cold hanging corpse. they are fucking death! add another character,
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 19, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
This may be a short read: a novella composed of only 103 pages of letters printed using big font. Definitely a short read. However, it is full-packed with explicit and sickening sex scenes so this is not for readers who are squeamish when it comes to sex. Also, this is not a book to titillate readers. The sex scenes are so disgusting I did not feel anything that made we want to have sex.

Rather, the internal stirring I had while reading this came due to George Bataille's (1897-1962) deep philoso
...more
Ian Heidin[+]Fisch
On Pornography

"The question is not whether pornography, but the quality of the pornography."

Paul Goodman

Pornography is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal.

I wonder why it is such a big no-no with some people. What are they thinking? What do they want us to think?

* Pornography is evil/ immoral/ naughty, because sexual arousal is evil/ immoral/ naughty?

* Alternatively, sexual arousal is OK, but the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter is evil/
...more
MJ Nicholls
The last orgy I attended was in Dundee. I turned up two minutes late, improperly dressed (my gimp mask hadn’t been drycleaned in time), and offended the host by complimenting him on his lovely breasts, and even more cracking vagina. I was told to gently lube the testicles of a history teacher for the first romp—clearly the host was furious with me, as the history teacher was my own father—then invited over for a little frottage against the pelvis of a divorced Cher impersonator. She sang ‘Gypsie ...more
Printable Tire
Dec 06, 2008 Printable Tire rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: perverts. idiots.
This book was unabashedly, humiliatingly retarded. It's the kind of book that's so famous and then you read it and wonder if someone is pulling a practical joke on you.

I've read better fanfic porn.
Kasia
Sick, disgusting and kinky but never boring. It certainly makes an impression. But if it were to be any longer I would start chucking off the stars. Lucky for Mr. Bataille that he kept the story short and writing up to standards. I'm sure if you try hard you could find some social commentary in there and a few metaphors, but it takes an effort to look beyond all the fetish and gore. Besides lewdness itself makes a point here.
Melissa
This book is obscene and fantastic. It's a very short read, and if you can divorce the pornographic content from the subject matter- you'll end up in a world of symbolism and psychological return from the likes of William Golding. If you're the kind of person who likes to take a book apart and analyze the text- this one's for you. But if you read for narrative pleasure you should run in the other direction.

The short of it is an unnamed narrator outlines his sexual exploits with his peers in th
...more
Xandra
I don’t mind bizarre lewdness or surreal disgusting situations. Nonchalant mentions of a rape or a crime, in the same manner one would mention their coffee was a bit too cold in the morning don’t shock me as much as they probably should. Crack however many eggs you want between your buttocks and urinate on various surfaces in any number of positions. I’ll remain impassible. Piss down your leg, on your mother, in a priest’s nostrils, on your clothes, on mannequins, on any surface imaginable. If y ...more
Baiocco
Oct 01, 2007 Baiocco rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Who Thinks A Girl Sitting In A Saucer of Milk Is A Deeply Erotic Image
Shelves: fiction
Every once in a while I have to read something dirty, lusty and depraved--I don't know what it is about me, but it's necessary. And I don't really mind. And I don't feel dirty afterwards, but rather refreshed actually. So there.

George Bataille, besides beind the lliterary executor to Walter Benjamin's controversial (he was a Jew facing persecution from Nazis during World War II) manuscript for his lifelong masterpiece The Arcades Project, was a total degenerate, sensualist scumbag and The Story
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
So far, what have humans done to the written language? You may know genres and sub-genres, but there are written works which can't snugly fit into these categories so you must invent some for them. I suspect that there are these hidden, latent categories in the 1001 books list. Like those which some would place under the category "unreadable, " or "modernist nonsense," or "insomniac pills." So you imagine the editors of the list discussing among themselves which works best exemplify the unreadab ...more
Nate D
Oct 05, 2013 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: seaside vacation reading
Recommended to Nate D by: the occultism of memory
So I finally read this. I don't really care about porn because porn is boring and utilitarian (and usually exists to carry out one specific purpose). So why was I able to enjoy this? Because though it's pornographic, it's not really porn. Bataille uses that language to carry out something more ambitious.

The sex acts here rarely involve intercourse, rather they carry out an elaborate convergent alchemy. Blood, milk, semen, eggs, and urine are gradually converted into the eye, the eye, the eye, t
...more
Nico
I read those first few pages standing in the doorway of City Lights bookshop when I was nineteen before heading across to Specs for a whiskey. The memory of the milk and the cupboard has never left me. R and I used to read it to each other in drunken revelry walking down Columbus Avenue, delirious to be alive, ecstatic that someone was going—or rather had gone—much further than we ever thought possible. Kundera writes that a work of art does not necessarily "progress" like sciece does, but inste ...more
Suzanne
Ah, Bataille puts Freud to shame in the myriad ways he explores the connections between sex and death in man's mind...Some people have complained that the characters are underdeveloped - if one reads the postscript about Bataille's father, you begin to see that it is intentional. Characters are symbols, symbols are characters, and the whole story is a kaleidoscope of psychological 'isms, and has less to do with sex (if you're looking for good porn, look elsewhere) than to do with having the read ...more
Henry Martin
One of the most bizarre books I have ever read, The Story of the Eye kept me torn as I kept turning the pages. Torn whether to repulse or whether to admit excitement.

This book was unlike anything I had read, vividly graphic and subtly gross, yet engaging and literary at the same time.

Is it pornography? Undoubtedly yes, but it is also a romance, a dark, twisted, forbidden romance with an ending I could not imagine in my wildest dreams.

Mr.
George Bataille's brief Sade-esque novella is a mordantly brilliant dip into the post-Nietzschen world modernity. The Story of the Eye is a pornographic disintegration of the Western ethical code. It is both magnificent and foul; a more daring and original work than his later philosophy/anthropology. A seminal piece of 20th century literature; although it was published well before the cultural abominations of our current nihilism, we are still not ready for this bleak and punkish work of literar ...more
Beverly
Jan 21, 2008 Beverly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To readers/writers stuck in a rut.
Recommended to Beverly by: Faith Wilding
Bataille's masterpiece, a genius of eloquent pornographic imagery, so that one's disgust is coupled with desire. I never read anything so appalling and enthralling at the same time. A literary work that parallels Bosch's paintings where vivid color draws the eye into close range with the unspeakable horror of forms. Bataille accomplishes the same with words in this book. So intense are the references that I guarantee you will never see an egg in the same way again, nor will you write anything in ...more
John Kupper
Sep 15, 2007 John Kupper rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Showgirls, Plan 9 from Outer Space
Shelves: fiction
This book is sort of like the Showgirls of literature: it's so terrible in almost every way, and so poorly written that you simply can't look away.

And don't get me wrong, I don't mean terrible as "offensive" or "obscene." I've read worse. This book is just plain bad.

Bataille somehow manages the most boring descriptions of incredibly kinky sex. Which brings me back to my first point. This book is so bad it's hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing the whole way through--at, not with.
Chris
This book can be read in about 30 minutes. Sadly, I imagine it must have taken slightly longer to write. The same things happen over and over, which you’d imagine wouldn’t be such a bother since the previous book I read was ‘Replay’ by Ken Grimwood, except in Story of the Eye the scenes aren’t particularly moving, interesting, or even necessary. Come to think of it, Story of the Eye pretty much sucked.

I got this based on some online recommendations; some dude on Amazon had a ‘Listmania’ entry
...more
Nathan
Another from Rowan Somerville's Guardian list of best sex writing. Another disaster. He described it as:
Unnerving, delicious, completely wrong, provocative, unbridled, surreal, graphically erotic, boundless and imaginative, indulgent and beautiful. What more can I say?


What more to say? What more to say? How about "it is shit"? How about "the best part of this tedious wankstain is that it is short"?

Bataille was a French existentialist who tossed this pustulent ejaculation off to prove his Bohemia
...more
Lauryl
Angela Carter, in an essay about Story of the Eye, once said that the French seem to delight so much in shocking the English that they barely take time to notice that the English aren't really all that shocked. Being an American, I can't really know how right she was, but I definitely think that, in a few deft strokes, she captured the guiding spirit of this book.

The problem with "pornography" as literature or art, or even as comedy, is that any criticism one raises to it will be seen by its adv
...more
Daniel
Jul 06, 2012 Daniel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the brave
This book is filthy, and not in the fun way. This is the most disturbing book I've ever read. It is as offensive as you can get, save for maybe incest, but even that wouldn't be too out of place in this book. It is 85 pages of fornication, masturbation, urinating, and something gross involving eggs and eyes. It's anything BUT erotic.

However, I couldn't put this book down, as much as I may have wanted to. It's the second half of the book that gets the most disturbing, but it also makes the most s
...more
Maria
I like Story of the Eye.

*****

After our Jane Eyre book discussion last night, Jzhun showed me this book. I read the first three paragraphs then decided to borrow it from him.

Once finished, I could not comprehend the Story of the Eye. Or is this really something for comprehension? The sexual deviations of the narrator, Simone, and Marcelle was very intriguing. But in the end, what was the cause or reason for such actions?

and yes, i was offended by the sacrilege done within the church.

so, what did
...more
Mirvan  Ereon
This book is unforgettable. I cannot help but rave about it to anyone who cares to listen. This is very eloquently done and the violence and gore in this is strangely erotic and well-written. This may not be for all people but the strange pull of this book to me and to anyone who cares to read it will surely make you weirdly disgusted at yourself for actually liking or even falling in love with this work.

One of the best novels I have read in a while. I would love to read more of this great auth
...more
Ellinor
If you felt scandalized by Fifty Shades of Grey or Wetlands you should not even consider reading this book: this is the most obscene and perverse thing I ever read. And it was published in 1928! I guess only a French writer can publish something like this and even use a style which makes the book worth reading. I can't really say I'm shocked by the book, but I'm definitely fascinated. I feel very voyeuristic right now!
Mala
May 31, 2014 Mala rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gregsamsa for his "summer of snark."

Bataille makes Coover look positively angelic by comparison!
I guess,I've no taste for transgressive literature.
Ryan
Many have claimed that this is the most atrocious perverse thing they've ever experienced or conversely the most illuminating, mind-expanding thing they've every experienced, so of course I had to check it out. I found it to be neither. Indeed, the book was pretty fucking weird and perverse. And that coming from me is saying something. However, it wasn't anywhere near my "too out there" benchmarks set by other books and/or films. Anyway, the book is Bataille's take on the human condition which a ...more
Pablo
Batille is a brilliant and probably also genius writer. Raised within a family of freeeaks, in "The Story of the Eye" he resets your mind with a punkish pornographic disjoin of the morally correct.

I agree with Joselito that the following passage is one that could best portray this story:


"But as of then, no doubt existed for me: I did not care for what is known as 'pleasures of the flesh' because they are really insipid; I cared only for what is classified as 'dirty.' On the other hand, I was not
...more
Jaga
intellectual filth?
OUI!
intellectual filth à la Bataille
No, merci!!

It reads like a dishwasher manual and I understand that was the point (perhaps overdone). I saw soon enough through all the symbolism and half way through this little piece of porn jewel I can say I have learnt everything that was to learn about Monsieur B.'s prose. It's not that terrible but I do have better things to read... I should have finished it in one sitting but after two days I don't feel like finishing, not interested
...more
Roberta Pearce
My eyes! My eyes!

I don’t know where to even begin in rating this novella. I don’t think I recommend it. Certainly not for the faint of heart. Hell, not even for the smelling-salt of heart.

Let's call it 2.5 stars.

This book was not so much recommended to me as it was waved in my face like a red flag of challenge. So, naturally, I dug up a copy and consumed it. My overall take on it? If you’re looking for erotica, this ain’t it.

Described as pornography, this piece of, um, transgressive literature
...more
Vicki Wilson
Alrighty then. I suspect I'm damaged for good.

Not sure how to rate this book, so I'm just settling for something in the middle.
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20842
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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“To others, the universe seems decent because decent people have gelded eyes. That is why they fear lewdness. They are never frightened by the crowing of a rooster or when strolling under a starry heaven. In general, people savor the "pleasures of the flesh" only on condition that they be insipid.
But as of then, no doubt existed for me: I did not care for what is known as "pleasures of the flesh" because they really are insipid; I cared only for what is classified as "dirty." On the other hand, I was not even satisfied with the usual debauchery, because the only thing it dirties is debauchery itself, while, in some way or other, anything sublime and perfectly pure is left intact by it. My kind of debauchery soils not only my body and my thoughts, but also anything I may conceive in its course, that is to say, the vast starry universe, which merely serves as a backdrop.”
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“We did not lack modesty—on the contrary—but something urgently drove us to defy modesty together as immodestly as possible.” 18 likes
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