The Poetry of Georges Bataille

By Georges Bataille
Translated by Stuart Kendall
Introduction by Stuart Kendall

Subjects: Poetry, Mysticism, Literature, Philosophy, Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438472324, 264 pages, December 2018
Hardcover : 9781438472317, 264 pages, December 2018

Table of contents

Translator’s Introduction: The Hatred of Poetry

The Poetry of Georges Bataille


Poems from Inner Experience

Pain and Four Poems

Poem from The Little One

Poems from Guilty

Eleven Poems Withdrawn from Archangelic

Two Poems from the Manuscripts for Archangelic

Poems from On Nietzsche
Disparate Poems

Poems from The Tomb of Louis XXX

Eliminated Poems and Other Unpublished Poems
Undifferentiated Being Is Nothing

Erotic Poems


Five Poems from 1957

Index of Titles and First Lines

Presents a new window into the literary, philosophical, and theological concerns of this enigmatic thinker and writer.


Despite its relative rarity, and the condensed brevity of the poems themselves, poetry occupies a striking place in the literary and philosophical oeuvre of Georges Bataille. For Bataille, poetry had no meaning "except in the violence of revolt," which it could attain "only by evoking the impossible." Toward this end, he wrote poetry, as he says in Inner Experience, "with necessity—in accordance with my life." Although poems appear in four of his major works, and others were published independently in a small collection and in magazines, much of Bataille's poetry remained unpublished at the time of his death. This volume presents a nearly complete edition of the poems in chronological order. Stuart Kendall provides an extensive introduction and notes highlighting the literary, philosophical, and theological significance of Bataille's poetry. He also explores the influence of Nietzsche, St. John of the Cross, Blake, Baudelaire, and other poètes maudits and situates the poems in relation to Bataille's other writings and the period in which he wrote.

Georges Bataille (1897–1962), a medievalist librarian by training, founded the College of Sociology and the secret society Acéphale. He was equally famous for his contributions to French literature, art criticism, anthropology, philosophy, and theology. Bane of theologians, existentialists, and surrealists during his lifetime, he became an essential reference for the poststructuralist generation of French intellectuals, including Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. Stuart Kendall is a writer, editor, and translator working at the intersections of modern and contemporary art and design, critical theory, poetics, and theology. Author of the critical biography Georges Bataille, he has also edited and translated six other books by Bataille, including Guilty, Inner Experience, and On Nietzsche, all published by SUNY Press. The journal French Studies has referred to him as "arguably the most skillful translator Georges Bataille has in the English language."