Henry Martin's Reviews > Story of the Eye

Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille
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bookshelves: permanent-collection

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.

Update 04/01/2016

I just completed a second, more thorough reading of this short book. This reading was done over a period of about two weeks, reading slowly one section at a time, trying to look at the book not merely as a reader but from a more philosophical and psychological standpoint, trying both to appreciate and to understand this unusual work.

I must admit this reading has left me more disturbed than the first one. This was due, perhaps, to the the slower, more academical approach I took this time around. While I have developed a better understanding of the literary techniques used in this book and could appreciate the author's approach, the unconditional depictions of sexual acts I cannot understand or relate to made this experience more bothersome.


On one hand, I could relate and appreciate the inner turmoil of adolescents trapped in an environment that does not understand them, and their rebellion against structure, convention, and culture of make-believe customs which, albeit superficially, make the fabric of society at that time.

On the other hand, I could not get past the sexual conduct and utter disregard for personal freedom of choice perpetrated by these adolescents in order to satisfy their own 'perversion', which, in turn, brought about the philosophical question of how they can justify their own conduct imposed upon the unwilling subjects of their vile tastes.

And this is where I struggle the most. Minds and bodies united in the desire to be freed from the impositions society's rules placed upon them forcefully impose their own desires upon a person whose mind is, if anything, simple and innocent. For Marcelle was, in a way, an innocent creature.

The introduction of a perverted British aristocrat only perpetuated this feeling in me, for it played upon the stereotype of a man of means indulging in the debauchery of others out of boredom, and his social status and way of means made this even more pronounced.

Then again, as I could not relate to the imagery used, especially in the sexual exploits, there is a huge part of the story that means nothing to me, and is thus viewed only as a bizarre perversion. I'm certain, however, that those who can relate to the imagery and objects will understand this work on a different level. Not necessarily a more wholesome level, but on a different sexual level.

In a way, this book brings forth the notion that it is a stone in a wall of French literary sensationalism, where the very decency of society is overturned and portrayed as a farcical notion, much in the same way Boris Vian used in his 'I shall Spit on Your Graves' or as Lautreamont used in his Maldoror. To challenge the social norm and trash it as a delusion, rather than finding the place for one's 'unconventional orientation' within the social fabric.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 25, 2014 – Shelved
March 25, 2014 – Shelved as: permanent-collection

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Your review sparks major curiosity...

Feliks Superb book review.

Henry Martin Feliks wrote: "Superb book review."


message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie Oh, my. I just read a recommendation for this one, but now that I've read your review. . . I'm conflicted!

Henry Martin Julie,

It is not for the faint of heart. That being said, it is an interesting book.

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