Bataille. ‘Librarian, writer, editor, militant, “madman” — as theorist’ (Guerlac 1999). Suzanne Guerlac’s description, on a recent website, ‘Bataille in America’, devoted to scholarly essays on Bataille, is typical of the difficulty critics find in characterizing the writing of a figure only recently coming to prominence in anglophone literary, cultural and philosophical institutions. In her essay, ‘Bataille in Theory’, Guerlac interrogates the appropriations of Bataille by French post-structuralism, notably via the journal Tel Quel and the notion of transgression; sets out to establish a distance between the Bataille who wrote journals, poetry, erotic fiction, art history, literary criticism, medieval history, theological pamphlets, economic and sociological analyses and philosophical critiques from the 1930s to the 1960s; and the Bataille familiar from the work of the cluster of French theorists who started to write after Bataille died in 1962, and whom Bataille’s writing seems so strangely to inform. Texts by Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Jean-François Lyotard, Julia Kristeva, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Philippe Sollers, even when they do not specifically address aspects of Bataille’s thought, are littered with citations from and allusions to Bataillean notions. Foucault on transgression is one example, or Kristeva on the ‘subject in process’, Lacan on the real and jouissance, Baudrillard on symbolic economy, Lyotard on ‘acinema’ and Derrida on the dual economy of différance. And Barthes, in a discussion of the polysemous idea of textuality, has occasion to employ Bataille as an exemplar of its movements, a figure not classifiable in the terms of disciplinary categories or literary or philosophical authorship and whose writings are not to be shelved as ‘work’ — completed, bound, systematized — but which continue to manifest a subversive and unarrestable energy as an unmasterable ‘Text’ (1977, 157).
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number