'Literature is not innocent,' stated Georges Bataille in this extraordinary 1957 collection of essays, arguing that only by acknowledging its complicity with the knowledge of evil can literature communicate fully and intensely. These literary profiles of eight authors and their work, including Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal and the writings of Sade, Kafka and Sartre, explore subjects such as violence, eroticism, childhood, myth and transgression, in a work of rich allusion and powerful argument.
Georges Bataille, French essayist and novelist, was born in 1897. He converted to Catholicism, then to Marxism, and was interested in psychoanalysis and mysticism. As curator of the municipal library in Orleans, he led a relatively simple life, although he became involved, usually on the fringes, with the surrealist movement. He founded the literary review Critique in 1946, which he edited until his death in 1962, and was also a founder of the review Documents, which published many of the leading surrealist writers. His writing is a mixture of poetry and philosophy, fantasy and history, and his first novel, Story of the Eye, was written under the pseudonym of Lord Auch. Bataille's other works include the novels Blue of Noon, L'Abbe C and My Mother, and the volumes of essays Eroticism and Literature and Evil.