Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Trial of Gilles de Rais” as Want to Read:
The Trial of Gilles de Rais
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Trial of Gilles de Rais

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  277 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Georges Bataille presents the case of the most infamous villain of the Middle Ages: Gilles de Rais. Fascinated with the depths of human experience the meeting points of sexuality, violence, ritual, spirituality, and death Bataille examines with dispassionate clarity the legendary crimes, trials and confessions of this grotesque and still-horrifying 15th-century child-murde ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 1st 1990 by Amok Books (first published 1965)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Trial of Gilles de Rais, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Trial of Gilles de Rais

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
What grips us in Gilles de Rais' death is the compassion. It seems that this criminal moved his audience to compassion; in part by reason of his atrocity, in part by virtue of his nobility and the fact that he was crying.

This observation occurs near the end of Bataille's summation of crimes and trial of the infamous de Rais. Following this is 150 pages of transcripts from the ecclesiastical and secular trials. What Bataille achieves in his Foucauldean burrowing is a 15C world where the devil or
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
In wondering if Gilles de Rais is the “most abject criminal of all time,” this text opens with the observation that “crime hides” (13), parallel to Poe’s principle that “thus the essence of all crime is undivulged.” (Please be advised that, for modern purposes, de Rais stands convicted of the abduction, rape, and murder of dozens of minor children; the facts may bear the allegation that his toll runs rather into the hundreds.)

Bataille notes that de Rais is “monstrous,” a “legendary monster” (17)
Jodi Lu
Jul 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
I give up. I give up because I had to take Gravity's Rainbow to work today instead to get a respite from the torture of reading this book, and Gravity's Rainbow is nothing if not an unnatural respite, and I assure you the aforementioned "torture" had nothing to do with Gilles de Rais, one of the most compelling actual torturers of all time, his perversion and bloodthirst outshining the competition even during the very golden age of outlandish torturing! I braced myself (as one needs to do simila ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Gilles de Rais como figura representante de la maldad en su forma más pura y simple es bastante adecuada, como un animal salvaje, corrupto e inocente, formado por sí mismo y su entorno.

Esa era la premisa del libro, una biografía. Fue una lectura clara pero esperaba más considerando la capacidad descriptiva de Bataille y su atracción por lo visceral lo cual es una pena ya que este libro pudo haber sido ataque toxico hacia la mente si se hubiera hecho con esa intención.
Joel Ortiz-Quintanilla
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
this is the only book in my entire life that i had to throw away and stop reading it, this book had me dreaming that i was eating people and i was liking it, i woke up the next day and sold the book to get high instead, that is the kind of author bataille is, he gets inside of you and disturbs, the only book, that i had to throw away before i became crazy, yeah, it was okay, the life story of the gilles de rais, very interesting, its funny that le bas is the story of a govt employee who is writi ...more
Nov 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-bought
Kind of an early true-crime book, but re-done by the great kink of all kinks, M. Georges Bataille. My friend Stuart (Amok) put this book together and he did an amazing job as a publisher (only another publisher appreciates other publishers). The trial manuscripts read like a combination of a Dennis Cooper novel and a work from a weird part of the brain. Remarkable.
The Literary Chick
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
How many times can you write the same thing? Apparently, quite a few.
Il declino di Gilles de Rais mostra aspetti di magnificenza funebre. Si sente l’ossessione della morte: poco per volta, un uomo si chiude nella solitudine del crimine, dell’omosessualità, della tomba; in quel profondo silenzio, i volti che l’ossessionano sono quelli dei bambini morti, che egli profana in un turpe abbraccio. In questo scenario di fortezze – e di tombe – il declino di Gilles de Rais assume l’aspetto d’una allucinazione teatrale. Noi non possiamo giudicare gli stati d’animo di ques ...more
Tom Schulte
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reading Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris recalled to me this book by Georges Bataille, for some reason I couldn't place. Then, as the author got into WW II-era philosphers and surrealists and mentioned Bataille, I figured we were on the same wavelength.

Something about clumsy and lethally confused de Rais speaks to the "banality of evil". This book presenting so much unearthed trial transcripts made this horrible monster real and believable, like the police rep
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
If you are reading this expecting hardcore lurid horror scenes, or to wallow in the perversity and terror of Gilles de Rais' crimes, this is really not the book for that.

However, I did really enjoy it. There's something interesting in how Bataille tries to delve in to the culture and mindset of that era, of how he tries to navigate around Rais' motives and possible madness. There are descriptions of his crimes which are horrific in themselves, but essentially that is not what this book is about.
Ben Fairchild
May 15, 2009 marked it as to-read
This is about the same guy that Cradle of Filth's latest album is about. He used to rape and sodomise little children in the worst possible way (as if there were a best possible) I do wonder about all this gothic stuff sometimes. He also fought as a commander under Joan of Arc; I am a big fan of St Joan obviously - the warrior virgin of Christ - yummy! I am going to see Cradle of Filth play on the 26th. I am looking forward to the support band just as much. Of course Cradle of Filth are famous f ...more
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
While this book is by no means flawless, it does have a solid collection of pieces on the fact and the fiction surrounding Gilles de Rais. I appreciate the patchwork style of it. It appeals to the artist and the historian. The highlights of it are the extensive extract from Bataille's The Trial of Gilles de Rais, Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, and the otherwise difficult-to-find Tragedy in Blue by Richard Thoma. The book deserves 5 stars just for having these three together.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, crime
One would think that a writer like Bataille would have some very interesting things to say about such an infamous murderer, but his essay is only mildly interesting. A short, worthwhile read, but unsatisfying and forgettable.
Virgil S.
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
The actual trial documents and timeline are an essential asset, but I could do without Bataille's nonsensical rambling, which offers nothing of value.
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jul 01, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An interesting topic for those with strong stomachs, but disjointed and poorly done. Worth trudging through if you need the information for a class, but otherwise not a pleasant read.
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
This guy was REAL fucked up
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
so far, so very bloody good...
J.L. Flores
rated it really liked it
Oct 28, 2016
Carrie Schaff
rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2013
Gracchus Babeuf
rated it it was amazing
Sep 13, 2013
rated it really liked it
May 29, 2010
rated it liked it
Jun 16, 2008
rated it liked it
Jan 21, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Nov 26, 2012
Jon Graham
rated it really liked it
Dec 08, 2012
rated it really liked it
Nov 14, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Nov 29, 2015
Richard Snodgrass
rated it it was amazing
Jul 26, 2015
rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2011
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Bloody Countess: The Atrocities of Erzsebet Bathory
  • The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism
  • The Baphomet
  • Lautreamont and Sade
  • Psychopathia Sexualis: A Medico-Legal Study
  • Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries
  • Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff
  • The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and Its Analysis
  • Murdered Innocents
  • Evidence
  • Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult
  • Eden, Eden, Eden
  • Cannibal: The True Story Behind the Maneater of Rotenburg
  • Beyond Belief: The Moors Murderers. The Story of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.
  • Death Scenes: A Homicide Detective's Scrapbook
  • Will You Die for Me?
  • Apocalypse Culture II
  • Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder
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
More about Georges Bataille...