This article examines the notion of érotisme in Georges Bataille’s philosophy and in his novel Ma mère. The primary aspect that Bataille’s unique concept of érotisme shows is the annihilation of limits. All individuals, as purportedly discontinuous beings, experience continuity by losing themselves at the summit of érotisme, which leads them to abolish the boundary between themselves and the other. And through erotic acts, those very individuals dissolve themselves and no longer recognize themselves as subjects and their partner an object. In other words, they stop distinguishing one from the other. And by examining the second aspect of érotisme, the violation of taboos, we will be able to grasp Bataille’s original definition of érotisme: the affirmation of life even until the moment of death.

For Bataille, literature is the space where érotisme is shown, and an erotic deed in itself, because, similarly to executors and victims of the rite of sacrifice, the writer dissipates himself in his work, while the readers abandon themselves to the lecture.

With this view of érotisme, we try to understand the movements of the protagonists in Ma mère. Pierre, an innocent boy who is bound to follow the path of debauchery prepared by his mother, Hélène, becomes a man who himself leads a dissolute life. Having experienced decadent feasts and erotic rites with his lovers, Réa and Hansi, Pierre finally ends up making love with his own mother and witnessing her suicide. In this story of destruction, we can see how Bataille’s autobiographical protagonist grows into a writer, overcoming his mother’s fatal love and her death. His writing represents the debauchery and the death that he has experienced.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 201-229
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.