Book Review: George Bataille's Blue of Noon / by Neal Auch

Blue of Noon is a charmingly inscrutable little erotic novel that details the various perverse and destructive exploits of its protagonist, all set against the backdrop of Europe's pre-WWII descent into fascism.  Although this is not Bataille's most famous work of erotic fiction -- that would be The Story of the Eye -- I've always thought that it's his strongest.  While much of Bataille's writing feels cold and detached to me, Blue of Noon strikes a surprisingly human note amid the din of depravity.  The plot of the novel, such as it is, seems to exist largely to connect the two wonderful set-pieces that bookend the novel: the drunken scene of scatological hotel room debauchery that opens the story, and the strangely touching sex scene set on a cliff overlooking a candle-lit graveyard that functions as the climax for the narrative.  The final sequence of the novel is an ominous description of a group of Hilter Youth playing drums and fifes before an empty rain-drenched square, the background music for our protagonist's contemplation of the imminent war and his own impending death.

Most writing about Bataille seems to be rather academic in nature and tends to focus on his philosophical work.  Personally, nothing could interest me less about this figure.  At its best, Bataille's writing is the fever dream of a drunk philosopher, scrawled out hastily with one hand on the typewriter and the other wrapped firmly around his cock.  To subject this kind of writing to scholarly analysis seems counterproductive to me.  This is a novel that functions like great portraiture: at the end of the day one is left with more questions than answers and yet the experience is somehow wholly satisfying.