We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Ecce Monstrum

Georges Bataille and the Sacrifice of Form

Jeremy Biles

Publication Year: 2007

In the 1930s, Georges Bataille proclaimed a ferociously religioussensibility characterized by simultaneous ecstasy and horror. Ecce Monstrum investigates the content and implications of this religious sensibility by examining Bataille's insistent linking of monstrosity and the sacred. Extending and sometimes challenging major interpretations of Bataille by thinkers like Denis Hollier and Rosalind Krauss the book reveals how his writings betray the monstrous marks of the affective and intellectual contradictions he seeks to produce in his readers. Charting a new approach to recent debates concerning Bataille's formulation of the informe (formless), the author demonstrates that the motif of monstrosity is keyed to Bataille's notion of sacrifice--an operation that ruptures the integrality of the individual form. Bataille enacts a monstrousmode of reading and writing in his approaches to other thinkers and artists--a mode that is at once agonistic and intimate. Ecce Monstrum examines this monstrous mode of reading and writing through investigations of Bataille's sacrificialinterpretations of Kojve's Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche; his contentious relationship with Simone Weil and its implications for his mystical and writing practices; his fraught affiliation with surrealist Andr Breton and his attempt to displace surrealism with hyperchristianity; and his peculiar relations to artist Hans Bellmer, whose work evokes Bataille's religious sensibility.With its wide-ranging analyses, this book offers insights of interest to scholars of religion, philosophers, art historians, and students of French intellectual history and early modernism.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (43.9 KB)

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (36.0 KB)
pp. ix

List of Figures

pdf iconDownload PDF (38.3 KB)
pp. xi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (29.9 KB)
pp. xiii

This book began as a doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago Divinity School. During my time at the Divinity School, I received advice and support from numerous friends and professors. I am particularly grateful to the three members of the faculty who together made up a dissertation...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (108.1 KB)
pp. 1-8

In the 1930s, French writer Georges Bataille (1897–1962) established a secret society known as Acephale. In the journal by the same name that provided the group’s public facade, Bataille sets the mood for this obscure ‘‘headless’’ organization, declaring with imperative exigency, ‘‘WE ARE...

read more

Chapter 1: Ecstatic and Intolerable: The Provocations of Friendship

pdf iconDownload PDF (129.9 KB)
pp. 9-35

Georges Bataille died in 1962, a year after completing his last book, The Tears of Eros, a lavishly illustrated essay on the history of eroticism. This book represents a visual and textual record of this writer’s final days; the inevitability of death that had terrified and elated Bataille throughout his...

read more

Chapter 2: Nietzsche Slain

pdf iconDownload PDF (167.2 KB)
pp. 36-71

It was in 1923, at about the age of twenty-five, that Georges Bataille first read Friedrich Nietzsche. He cites this encounter as a decisive event in his life,1 one that infuses his philosophical inquiries with increased passion and fuels his explorations into the limits of human existence. In the years following...

read more

Chapter 3: The Labyrinth: Toward Bataille’s ‘‘Extremist Surrealism’’

pdf iconDownload PDF (121.1 KB)
pp. 72-94

Upon a first reading, Bataille’s late book Lascaux, or The Birth of Art1 appears straightforward enough. Published in 1955 as part of the mainstream ‘‘Great Centuries of Painting’’ series by the Skira Color Studio, the text of this book is a sustained exposition of the conditions under...

read more

Chapter 4: The Cross: Simone Weil’s Hyperchristianity

pdf iconDownload PDF (138.9 KB)
pp. 95-123

Simone Weil was a familiar of caves and labyrinths, at least in her writings. For example, Weil identifies with Antigone, the tragic figure who takes her own life within the hollow of a cave as a show of impassioned obedience to divine law.1 Weil’s theological writings are also markedly inflected by Platonic...

read more

Chapter 5: The Wounded Hands of Bataille: Hans Bellmer, Bataille, and the Art of Monstrosity

pdf iconDownload PDF (5.3 MB)
pp. 124-162

Among the artistic depictions of the crucified Christ at Golgotha, Matthias Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece (1515) remains among the most remarkable for its almost photographic portrayal of divine abjection (figure 2).1 To the right of the crucified Christ, supported by a sympathetic witness,2 is a...

read more

Conclusion: Bataillean Meditations

pdf iconDownload PDF (62.4 KB)
pp. 163-170

In book 4 of his Generation of Animals, Aristotle remarks upon the conditions that define monstrosity: ‘‘Anyone who does not take after his parents is really in a way a monstrosity [teras], since in these cases Nature has in a way strayed from the generic type.’’1 Bataille would agree with the letter, if...


pdf iconDownload PDF (299.1 KB)
pp. 171-232


pdf iconDownload PDF (72.7 KB)
pp. 233-242


pdf iconDownload PDF (71.2 KB)
pp. 243-249

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247752
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823227785
Print-ISBN-10: 0823227782

Page Count: 372
Publication Year: 2007