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Critical Essays: Volume 2: 1949–1951 (The French List)

Critical Essays: Volume 2: 1949–1951 (The French List)

Current price: $29.00
Publication Date: December 6th, 2024
Seagull Books


An introduction for English-language readers to Georges Bataille’s postwar philosophical and critical writings.

In the aftermath of World War II, French thinker and writer Georges Bataille forged a singular path through the moral and political impasses of his age. In 1946, animated by “a need to live events in an increasingly conscious way,” and to reject any compartmentalization of intellectual life, Bataille founded the journal Critique. Continuing the publication of his postwar writings, this second book in a three-volume collection of Bataille’s work collects his essays and reviews from the years 1949 to 1951.

In this period of intellectual isolation and intense reflection, Bataille developed and refined his genealogy of morality through a sustained reflection on the fate of the sacred in the modern world. He offered a critique of the limits of existing morality, especially in its denial of excess, while sketching the lineaments of a new hyper-morality. Bataille’s wide-ranging reflections are true to the intellectual mission of Critique, which he founded as a space open to the broadest considerations of the present. As well as discussing significant figures like Samuel Beckett, André Gide, and René Char, Bataille also offers fascinating reflections on American politics, Nazism, existentialism, materialism, and play.

The connecting thread in these diverse essays remains Bataille’s concern with the extremes of human experience and the possibilities of transcending the limits of societies founded on utility and restraint. His writings remain a provocative incitement to rethink the boundaries we impose on expression and existence.

About the Author

Georges Bataille (1897–1962)was a French thinker, writer, and critic. Among his most celebrated works are Story of the Eye and Literature and Evil. 

Chris Turner is a translator and writer living in Birmingham, UK. He has translated numerous books from French and German, including, for Seagull Books, titles by Jean-Paul Sartre, Roland Barthes, André Gorz, Yves Bonnefoy, and Pascal Quignard, among others.

. Benjamin Noys is professor of critical theory at the University of Chichester, UK. He is the author of several books, including Malign Velocities and The Persistence of the Negative.

Alberto Toscano teaches at the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. He is the author of Fanaticism and Late Fascism and coeditor of The SAGE Handbook of Marxism.