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87 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Succeeds in Its Aims
Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye (a novella that actually clocks in closer to a short story; you should be able to read it within a couple hours, at most) is thoroughly successful in realizing Bataille's goal--the creation of an intentionally disturbing mix of eroticism, insanity, wanton violence, surrealism, adventure, and even an occasional touch of comedy.
The...
Published on April 14, 2001 by Kindle Customer

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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting erotica; written from a place of rebellion
I wasn't sure what to make of The Story of an Eye when I first read it as an undergraduate in college twelve years ago. Recently rereading the book, I now have a clearer interpretation. I think the most interesting aspect of this book comes in Bataille's linking of his own "sexual perversions" to his childhood experiences with his father's eyes, urination, and...
Published on July 13, 2001 by Bart Tare


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87 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Succeeds in Its Aims, April 14, 2001
By 
Kindle Customer (Parnybarnel, Mississippi) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye (a novella that actually clocks in closer to a short story; you should be able to read it within a couple hours, at most) is thoroughly successful in realizing Bataille's goal--the creation of an intentionally disturbing mix of eroticism, insanity, wanton violence, surrealism, adventure, and even an occasional touch of comedy.
The author's note that appears at the end of the City Lights Books edition, translated by Joachim Neugroschel (based on the original 1928 version of the book, by the way; in later editions, Bataille revised the text so that it "differs so thoroughly in all details that one can justifiably speak of two distinct books" per Neugroschel), states the psychological sources of the material in a fairly straightforward way. Bataille's father was blind and had "huge, ever gaping" eyes. He was also paralyzed and would frequently relieve himself in front of Georges, sometimes accidentally. As if that wasn't tragic enough, he also went mad towards the end of his life, shouting out obscenities that shocked the strictly-raised Bataille. Shortly after this, Bataille's mother had a temporary mental breakdown, as well. The incident at the "haunted castle" actually happened, in part, and so on.
But although knowing the source material is informative, it's not necessary to enjoy the book, and Bataille extrapolates far beyond his experiences, strongly emphasizing the surrealist aspects (you can even interpret a fair amount of the book as a novelization of a handful of Dali paintings, imagined by a psychopath), and delivering the result in a beautifully terse prose--often bridging over to poetry--that owes as much to Steinbeck and Hemingway as it does to a more shocking Kafka.
If you're easily offended, this book will more than do the trick. I'm not up on my banned book trivia at the moment, but Story of the Eye is undoubtedly on quite a few of those lists.
Many have said that this book has no redeeming value, or indeed no artistic value. That's only true if you have a very narrow view of the scope of literature--one so narrow, that most important works of fiction from the twentieth century and beyond are probably unintelligible to you. Story of the Eye has had more than its share of influence, in everything from fiction to painting to film, and provides a gripping, if upsetting read.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd little gem of perversion and eros., May 6, 2000
By 
Will Errickson (Portland, OR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
Georges Bataille often falls between the cracks of literary identificaton because his work straddles so many uncomfortable realms. A sometime-Surrealist who had a falling out with Andre Breton, Bataille's books are often compared to the Marquis de Sade's. Reading "Story of the Eye" it's not hard to see why: two teenage lovers experiment with their bodies and with foreign objects; eventually their erotic adventures include madness, torture, murder and the death of a bullfighter.
This is strange, heady stuff--fortunately the book is barely 100 pages long. This is underground literature at its finest, mocking the pretensions of culture, of decency, morality, and healthy sexuality. Bataille's style can be obtuse but can also illuminate dark, forbidden corners of humanity. If you're into de Sade, Wm. Burroughs, Surrealism, Clive Barker, the psychology of fetishism, or just want something to read that is light years from the crappy bestseller lists, read "The Story of the Eye" and introduce yourself to the unholy world of Georges Bataille.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting erotica; written from a place of rebellion, July 13, 2001
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
I wasn't sure what to make of The Story of an Eye when I first read it as an undergraduate in college twelve years ago. Recently rereading the book, I now have a clearer interpretation. I think the most interesting aspect of this book comes in Bataille's linking of his own "sexual perversions" to his childhood experiences with his father's eyes, urination, and the whole association of these experiences with eggs. It is facinating that Bataille apparently wrote this novella without the knowledge that he was dealing with parts of his childhood, but that all of this psychological material came through anyway. It made me contemplate my own childhood experiences and associations they have with my conceptions of sexuality as an adult. Another interpretation I have of this novella is that it is just a better-written version of de Sade. The Story of an Eye seeks to shock and offend in way that breaks down the repression of shame-based morality. In many respects, The Story of an Eye is just a listing of morally crude/violent sexual experiences. It's giving the finger to perceived patriarchal institutions such as the Catholic Church, mental hospitals, the government, parents, etc. by means of graphically describing perceived sexual "aberrations" in the eyes (no pun intended) of these institutions. The problem I have with this "sexual extremism = destruction of patriachy" philosophy is that this type of rebellion only creates the same type of violence and shame that it seeks to liberate people from. In my mind, the characters in The Story of the Eye become that which they rebel against. Still, this novella is well worth a read if you're a fan of rebellious sexual literature in the de Sade vein. It's also funny to think that The Story of the Eye was written around the same time of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What is this?, August 28, 2007
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
There are two ways of looking at this extraordinary book:

1. It is one of the most intensely perverse pornographic books ever written, one in which normal sexuality takes a decidedly back seat to urolagnia, necrophilia, and other conditions with Greek names. Its main distinctions are that it is highly compact, unusually well-written, tightly structured in its use of recurring imagery, and so quickly moves from titillation to excess that it distances itself from the rest of the genre.

2. It is a seminal work by a major figure in 20th-century French culture, with significant ties to surrealism, deconstructionism, and psycholanalysis. Seen in this light, its cultural ties are significant and far-reaching. Indeed, one of the most interesting parts of the book is the postlude in which Bataille comments on the connections between this early novella and traumatic incidents in his own childhood, connections that he says he was unaware of at the time of writing. In effect, therefore, he is performing psychoanalysis on himself.

The trouble is that it takes somebody with considerable knowledge of mid-twentieth-century French thought to see #2 in #1. I imagine that the notes and essays in the Penguin Classics edition would be helpful in this respect; the City Lights Press edition, while attractively produced, just gives you the text (though usefully in the first edition, which most accurately shows the book's place at the start of Bataille's career). As a cultural artifact, this probably merits 5 stars, but I just don't think that most readers will see it as that kind of masterpiece.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of the Eye, May 25, 2004
By 
"valeska_" (The Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
I decide to read this out of curiosity, both because Björk quoted it as her favourite book (saying everyone should read it) and because everyone I knew that had read it, told me it was really shocking. It's a short read, basically about a guys fascination with his friend Simone, a coquettish young girl. They flirt around and indulge in strange and erotic behaviour. Then one day they involve another girl Marcelle in their erotic games. Simone becomes fixated with Marcelle, who is very shy and reserved. Simone's behaviour becomes more and more frenzied, eventually climaxing into a wild animal-like orgy among friends. Marcelle reacts strongly, coming out of her shell and going crazy. Then she's institutionalized at a asylum in the countryside and the two conspire to break her out. Eventually they have to go on the lam to Spain, where Simone gets even worse. Well, I don't want to ruin it. It's graphic and definitely not for the squeamish (or prudish). I wasn't as shocked as I thought I'd be, but I wasn't disappointed either! It's a good page-turner.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bare, raw, open--a subtle gunshot of philosophy, January 5, 2006
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
Despite his perversions, one cannot help but identify with the protagonist: propelled by his own barely-understood desires, captivated by relationship with a woman so intense as to be unintelligible to language, pulled along by the power of circumstances seemingly out of his control, trying desparately to save adolescent loves from parental and medical power... Bataille takes the twinges of teenage desire we all feel and runs with them all the way out. He drops you in and lets you try to swim back to civilization, to morality, to desire denuded. If you let yourself, you just might be inspired by this tale--not to sexual perversion, but to the limits of the real and the ends of your powers.

Bataille opens himself up, and invites us to do the same. To take this as simply a sexual or pornographic tale would be ignobling. The Sartre quote on the back of the book really ought to be on the first page, for it makes the entire work as sensible as it can ever be: speaking of Bataille, he said, "In him, reality is conflict."

If you let it, this book will blast open your ideas and feelings, and open you up to the waves and tendrils of the world. If you whether the storm, congratulate yourself. Most people won't let it get that close.

On the other hand, Story of the Eye is, despite its apparent casual treatment of language, complex and arcane. This is not because Bataille has covered over his 'real' meaning, but because this book partakes of a structure of meaning that destroys structuration. As a result, it doesn't have a 'point' to hide _or_ to reveal. Habituated to more conventional literary method, my initial response was near-total confusion, gasping and giggling at the same time. Story of the Eye is refreshing and stunning, exhilirating and terrifying. In the confused aftermath of reading it, one is left thoughtful, nude, and in pain. Accepting that reality is never finished, that humanity can not, should not, achieve stasis and perfection, that we need to be confronted with ourselves--only with these realizations will one truly love this book. Coming to terms with the acceptability of not knowing what is going on is part of loving this book, and it may be part of loving life, too...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filth and philosophy as only the French can serve it up, January 4, 2007
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
Published nearly 80 years ago, *Story of the Eye* may still be the wildest ((and weirdest)) pornographic novel ever written. Sadomasochism, underage orgies, golden showers, homicide, necrophilia, soft-boiled eggs--and all of it in a story less than one hundred pages in length. Outstanding!

Couched in a super-lucid prose of hyperbolic surreality, *Story of the Eye* is a record of the x-rated exploits of two young lovers--the narrator and the lovely Simone, who he meets on a family vacation. Equally inexperienced and perfectly matched in their precocious perversity, they set about discovering their sexuality through a series of escalating debaucheries, sucking into their erotic vortex a mentally fragile blonde, a rich English psychopath, and a priest. Bataille seems determined to out-Sade deSade and he largely succeeds in outdoing the divine Marquis, spicing up the lewd proceedings with liberal doses of libertine philosophy and poetically-fueled descriptions of the most ordinarily unpoetic and sordid of acts.

Still, when all is said and done, *Story of the Eye* is truly a work of literature. You can tell because you're never once tempted to read with one hand! Complete with what amounts to a short "making of *Story of the Eye*" author's note, which traces the autobiographical links between Bataille's early life and the events of the novel, here is a fascinating take on the perverse imagination by one of its greatest theorists.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written pornography... Colorful, daring... A good read, May 7, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
"The Story of the Eye" is a surprisingly well-written pornographic novella about the sexual awakening of three French teenagers and the extremes to which they go to explore and fulfill their fantasies. The central theme of the book is desire: how desire often manifests itself in eccentric and perverse ways, how desire for certain objects or acts have associational roots in childhood experiences that we cannot now recall and therefore remain unconscious, how desire is frequently repressed by society with sometimes tragic consequences. The book, as many here have noted, is at times shocking, but I would say a fairer characterization of it is as colorful and daring. Read it expecting to be startled or even upset by some of the events that take place, and it probably won't have any more harmful effect on you than, say, a Surrealist film by Salvador Dali such as "Un Chien Andalou" or a graphic sexual painting by Marcel Duchamps. Furthermore, the closing section of the book goes a long way toward putting the events that have been recounted in context and "bringing you down" back to reality after the horrifying, though highly stylized and symbolic, scene in the next-to-last chapter. Take the book with a grain of salt, and then dive in and try to enjoy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Regret and Devour., December 27, 2013
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This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
This book is a classic of sorts. It's my go to "shocker" text, when I want to make my friends read something they'll simultaneously regret and devour. Which is what I did. Each page I read, I'd ask myself "why," and I wouldn't find an answer. Yet I'd keep reading. There's just something mesmerizing in the vulgarity of this work. It's without match, I think.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, Brilliant and Grotesque ..., June 29, 2008
This review is from: Story of the Eye (Paperback)
What causes a mind to embrace gross sexual abstractions? When does a moment of teenage reckless abandon turn into a debauched nightmare? What causes a young mind to lean towards fetishism?

Professionals have grappled with those questions for decades, and many of these and similar questions will forever remain unanswered in The Story of The Eye. And yet, even with its horrific and gruesome imagery, one cannot help but desire to know the answers. However, one must understand the human shadow with some semblance of clarity for those answers to make any sense. Georges Bataille is one philosopher who truly understands, and he does not leave us wanting. In part two of this edition, he offers some clarity as he mulls over a few of the aberrations of his own childhood - how he came to understand his own shadow and its relationship to events and images within the story itself.

While Story of The Eye chronicles the deviant sexual escapades of two young lovers, this is not what I would consider a pornographic novel, as it was originally labelled. Yes, the erotic scenes are quite intense - intense enough to make the faint of heart put the book down in order to vomit. But the erotica is not the true bite of the story. The deep emotional, psychological, and pathological attachment between the two main characters is what drives this story. Their disdain for the banal is apparent in everything they do.

The narration is surreal, slipping in an out of conscious thought and action so fluidly it's like sinking into quicksand - struggle against it and drown or remain still and experience this work as the true artistic endeavour that it is. If you dare to remain still, you certainly will not be disappointed.
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Story of the Eye
Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille (Paperback - January 1, 2001)
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