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Story of the Eye – Andy was never that fond of eggs anyway

February 3, 2015

If I have to eat them, scrambled would be my preference. Thankfully Bataille never goes there.

story-of-the-eyeAs Netty says, this was my suggestion, and as she also suggests, no, in hindsight, I have no idea why. It’s supposed to be an erotic classic. It’s not. And despite its extreme sexual nature, I’m not sure it even deserves to be classed as erotica. When it was originally published, as far as I can tell, it was considered surrealist, not erotic, and I think that’s a better way to think of it – a work of literary surrealism, strongly influenced (as many early 20th-century surrealists were) by Freud’s exploration and attempted explanations of human sexuality. Eggs, eyes, testicles – they’re kind of all the same shape, aren’t they, so let’s throw them into a story. With wee. Lots of wee. And some teenage sado-masochism, sort of, And a bit more wee. And a cardboard-cutout upper-class Englishman who’s actually a bit of a repressed pervert. Wait, was there a tautology there?

And a wardrobe. Let’s have a wardrobe. And more wee.

I agree with Netty on many things about this book, but I disagree with her on a few as well. Bataille is not as good a writer as Anais Nin. He’s not even as good a writer as Henry Miller, when Miller’s at his best. Bataille is a pretty terrible writer, hamstrung in the 1920s by his obsessions with surrealism and Freudian psychology, looking back on a few things he remembers from when he was a kid and then reinterpreting them through a pretty seriously fucked-up kaleidoscope.

Bataille, obviously, quite liked being wizzed on by women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Bully for him. Maybe he quite liked eggs, as well. I don’t know. It’s just a pity that his talents didn’t allow him the opportunity to combine his sexual and surrealist and psychological obsessions in a coherent, compulsive narrative. Story of the Eye is kind of terrible. Except, ironically, once it gets to Spain – those chapters that Netty hated I loved. Raped, slaughtered, disfigured Catholic priest? Awesome stuff.

Although OK, I did kinda feel for the bullfighter.

I have no idea what else to say about this book, resulting in one of my shortest posts ever.

NB: Our thoughts on Anais Nin were initially published on another website, a website that went out of business about 18 months into the Reading Challenge. We managed to get the first 12 months of the Challenge up, and had the first six months of 2009 saved to our hard drives at some point or other; sadly, however, I suspect that our thoughts on Nin (and Paul Auster, and at least four others) are lost for ever. Bollocks.

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