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Bataille, Georges (1897–1962)

Michael Presdee

Subject Sociology » Sociological and Social Theory

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Georges Bataille was born in Billon, Puy-de-Dôme, in central France and converted to Catholicism on the eve of World War I, serving in the army from 1916 to 1917. Later he joined the seminary at Saint-Fleur and spent a period with the Benedictine congregation at Quarr on the Isle of Wight in Britain. In 1922, Bataille became the deputy keeper at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, a position he held until 1944, later becoming a librarian in Carpentras in Provence in 1949 and then in Orléans in 1951. Through his editorship of Critique , he gave space to new intellectuals such as Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, and Deleuze. Intellectually, Bataille was an uneasy member of the Surrealist movement during the 1920s, calling himself “the enemy within,” and through the work of Nietzsche became preoccupied with the notion of eroticism, horror, and obscenity, writing on topics such as transgression, excess, evil, sacrifice, de Sade, and desire. Bataille always involved himself in intellectual edge-work, having a “thirst for excess and violence” and the “unacceptable.” From Nietzsche he learned that “the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is … to live dangerously” ( Nietzsche 1974 : 228). Bataille's work on transgression was his most important intellectual legacy to modern sociology and criminology. It showed that he had an intimate understanding ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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