Author: Georges Bataille
Publication Date: 1928
Genre: Surrealist literature, Erotic fiction
Page Length: Approximately 100 pages (may vary depending on the edition)
Story of the Eye, written by French writer Georges Bataille in 1928, is a highly controversial novel that explores themes of sexuality, desire, violence, and the transgressive nature of human behavior. As a fitting representative of surrealist literature, the book ventures deep into the realm of the subconscious, pushing the boundaries of conventional storytelling.
Part 1: The Eye
The story begins by introducing the protagonist, a teenage boy named Pierre. He recounts his sexual awakening through various encounters and experiences in the town of B—. Pierre's obsession with Simone, a young girl with a striking beauty, confuses and arouses him. The two engage in explicit sexual acts, expressing their desires in an intense and unorthodox manner.
Part 2: The Egg
In this section, Pierre, Simone, and their new companion Marcelle embark on a journey to a secluded country chateau. Here, the trio encounters Sir Edmund, an elderly Englishman with an unusual fascination for eggs. Sir Edmund introduces them to a more depraved, taboo form of sexuality, involving voyeurism, exhibitionism, and sadomasochistic elements. Their exploration culminates in Simone inserting a hard-boiled egg into her vagina during a bizarre religious festival, leading to the expulsion of the egg by a priest in the midst of an orgy.
Part 3: The Slaughterhouse
In the final section, Pierre and Simone visit a brothel-like establishment, Des Esseintes. They encounter several new characters, including Herman and Mathilde. The group indulges in further expressions of their sexual desires, crossing the boundaries of societal norms. Eventually, they witness the brutal killing and mutilation of a horse at a local slaughterhouse, which ignites their passions anew. The story concludes with Pierre and Simone fleeing from the law, with Pierre confessing the events as a cathartic release.
1. Pierre: The main protagonist and narrator of the story. Pierre undergoes a sexual and psychological journey, exploring the darker aspects of desire and human nature.
2. Simone: Pierre's lover and object of his obsession. Simone is portrayed as a temperamental and sexually uninhibited young woman, willingly partaking in Pierre's provocative fantasies.
3. Marcelle: A new companion who joins Pierre and Simone on their sexual exploration. She remains a somewhat peripheral character but actively engages in their unconventional activities.
4. Sir Edmund: An elderly Englishman the trio encounters at the country chateau. He introduces them to more extreme forms of sexuality, centered around his fascination with eggs.
1. Sexuality and Desire: The novel delves deep into the realms of desire, exploring taboo and transgressive sexual acts that challenge societal norms.
2. Violence and Obscenity: The characters' sexual exploration becomes intrinsically linked to violence and obscenity, often blurring the boundaries between pleasure and pain.
3. Surrealism: As a work of surrealist literature, Story of the Eye embraces the irrational, the subconscious, and the fantastical, often defying traditional storytelling structures.
4. Power Dynamics: The novel explores power dynamics within sexual relationships, with the characters alternating between dominant and submissive roles.
Story of the Eye stands as a highly controversial and thought-provoking work of literature. It challenges readers' preconceived notions of sex, desire, and human behavior, forcing them to confront the darker aspects of their own psyche. Bataille's exploration of the intersection between sexuality, violence, and the irrational pushes the boundaries of conventional storytelling, making it a significant contribution to the realm of surrealist literature. Although it may shock and disturb readers, the novel serves as a testament to the power of literature in confronting societal taboos and questioning established norms.