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In which Netty reads some ridiculously perverted French filth and as a result develops an intense aversion to boiled eggs …

January 30, 2015

WARNING: This blog entry contains explicit content. And no, that’s not just a ploy to get you to read it!

sote-coverUnable to find a copy of Georges Bataille’s The Story Of The Eye at my local bookstore, I approached the information counter. The eyes of the nerdy-looking, bespectacled twentysomething lit up like a Christmas tree when I told him what I wanted. “Oh yes, we’ve definitely got that in stock,” he gushed, “I’ll show you.” And indeed he did – turns out I’d misspelled Bataille’s name and was looking in the wrong place. “All his titles are back in print,” nerdy boy continued, a little breathlessly, “I can order in anything you want.”

At the time I thought the gleam in his eye (no pun intended) was ever so slightly … odd. Now, having read Bataille’s novella – a mere slip of a thing at 67 pages, not counting an accompanying chapter that entails the author’s raison d’etre for writing it, its original preface and outline for a sequel, not to mention essays by Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, respectively – I get it. Oh, I get it all right. And possibly I will be avoiding said bookstore – and said nerdy boy – for a while …

Story Of The Eye was Andy’s selection – why, I have no idea. Possibly he has no idea either. I’d never heard of either Bataille or his book/s. If you’re similarly uninitiated, here’s the lowdown. He was an early 20th-century French author and essayist who gained a great deal of notoriety for this, um, erotic classic; his first novel, published in 1928 under the pseudonym Lord Auch.

We’ve read very little erotica in the history of ANRC – perhaps just Anais Nin’s Delta Of Venus and Henry Miller’s Tropic Of Cancer. I was dismissive of the former – mere, meandering diaries that somewhere found their way into print (sorry, I can’t find the original link) – and downright scathing of the latter – a misogynist heap of shit that is probably the worst thing I’ve ever read. I reckon Bataille is a better writer than Nin and a much, much better one than her former lover Miller – but this does not mean I’ll be reading any more of his work. Sorry, nerdy boy.

I’m usually quite careful regarding spoilers – unlike my far more cavalier fellow ANRC-er – but I’m throwing all caution to the wind here. Hell, it’s only a few dozen pages – and it’ll take you maybe an hour and a half to digest. Possibly you might want to eat a bit before you dip in because you probably won’t want for quite some time afterwards – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Story Of The Eye traces the relationship between its unnamed (French) narrator, a 15-year-old boy, and Simone, who’s the same age, and a distant relative. They meet one summer in a beach town, and the horny little buggers are at it before the first page is done and dusted. The novella is basically a summation of their extraordinarily perverted fuckfest, which, by the fourth page, has extended into a ménage a trois with their friend, the slightly gullible, slightly disturbed Marcelle.

It all blows up very quickly, thanks mainly to a party that turns into a full-blown, champagne-fuelled, depraved teen orgy, which is busted up by the kids’ parents and then the local constabulary. The ensuing scandal sees the narrator move in with Simone and her hapless mother, while Marcelle’s parents have their helpless daughter admitted to a sanatorium.

The narrator and Simone eventually break Marcelle out of the asylum, only for the mentally fragile girl to hang herself. At which point the pair, with the help of wealthy Englishman Sir Edmund – who has an unhealthy interest in Simone – decamp to Spain to escape the ensuing police investigation. There, they have a lot of sex, attend a bullfight and then, at the climax (no pun intended) of the book, wind up in a Seville church where all hell breaks loose (pun definitely intended).

Now, I’m no prude, but what starts out as a mildly titillating tale rapidly descends into a no-holds-barred account of depraved sex with an extremely heavy fixation with bodily fluids. The Spanish chapters are extremely difficult to read, particularly if you’re a bit on the squeamish side when it comes to golden showers, involuntary vomiting, bloodletting, and using body parts of dead animals and people as masturbatory devices.

The book’s title comes from Simone’s sexual obsession with eggs and eyes – which she sees as one and the same. She cracks raw eggs in her arse, places them in the toilet bowl so she can pee on them (and then make the narrator fish them out of said bowl to eat); freewheelingly inserts them into her vagina at any given opportunity. During the bullfight, she orders a dead bull’s balls, peeled, presented to her on a plate – which she then uses to publicly self-pleasure as a matador is gored to death before the crowd. Later, at the church, she rapes a priest, chokes him to death, then orders Sir Edmund to gouge out his eye before – yep, you guessed it.

I mean, geez.

Looking for positives, there are three things I can say in the novella’s favour. Firstly, it is undeniably well-written. Secondly, I suppose kudos of some kind has to be given to Bataille for making the main female character of his book the driving force behind its many and varied perversities. In comparison, the narrator – and Marcelle, and Sir Edmund – come across as unwitting, yet willing, accomplices in Simone’s psychologically complex game, her utterly depraved sexual peccadillos and atrocities. Thirdly, it’s short. Mercifully so. If there’d been more chapters after the church scene, I seriously doubt I would have been reading ‘em.

They say one man’s meat is another man’s poisson – and as for me, well, I’m a vegetarian. Who may never be able to eat eggs again. Thanks for that, Bataille. Yeah, thanks a lot. And a word of advice to nerdy boy – you’ll do a lot better with the ladies if you stop recommending Bataille to them. You’re welcome.

Geez …

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