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Bataille, Georges (1897–1962)

Georges Bataille was born in Billom, Puy-de-Dome, France, “of peasant stock” (Bataille 1989, 217). He considered himself to have suffered an extremely painful and disturbed childhood, possibly including sexual abuse by his father. Yet it is unclear whether this actually occurred or existed only in Bataille's imagination (see Surya 2001). In 1914, Bataille and his mother abandoned his blind and syphilitic father, fleeing the advancing German army. This abandonment of a feared yet revered father seemed to have a decisive influence on Bataille's thought and life, concerned as it is with the sacred, violence, loss, eroticism, consumerism, excess, and death.

Bataille's earliest intellectual interests were medieval history, languages, and philosophy. Formally converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1914, Bataille seriously considered joining the priesthood. After ...

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