Thursday, November 22, 2007

Georges Bataille's "Blue of Noon": Book Review

Not nearly as memorable as the surrealist pornography of "The Story of an Eye," nor as thought-provoking as his study of the tangling of the great death and the "little death" of orgasm in his sex- and- mortality, violence- and- the sacred exploration "Erotism," this slim novel, as the author's uncomfortable tone betrays in its afterword, appears half-finished and abandoned rather than meant as it is for publication.

Lazare's fanatical devotion to the Left and especially Dirty's penchant for decadent and unsanitary lifestyle choices remain the most powerfully characterized moments, but too much of the novel remains as jittery and haphazard-- albeit Bataille argues in the afterword he meant it to be read as such-- as comparatively mundane next to the strong opening vignette of Troppmann and Dirty in one of literature's most effectively rendered dives, even by Parisian standards.

As one who has read plenty of Céline, a bit of Sade, and some of Sartre's fiction, this novel held some interest. Yet, it seems too slack, too dragged down by ennui. Far less erotic than a reader of "The Story of An Eye" might expect, this instead recalls Bataille's protege, Pierre Klossowski (his novels have been reviewed by me on Amazon; he's the brother of the painter Balthus) and his philosophical protagonists who also are prone more to shuffling about rather than coupling energetically. The extravagant claims left by readers here appear unfounded, given the turgid pace of its pages and the uneven tone of the narrative.

Images: American edition in blue; British in silver. Which female image do you prefer? Penguin there, a small indie publisher here. It figures. Review posted to Amazon US today; most people raved about this novella far more than I did.

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