Histoire de l’œil by Georges Bataille and Hans Bellmer (1947)
Lord Auch [Georges Bataille]. Histoire de l’œil. Illustrated by Hans Bellmer. Séville, 1940 [Paris: K éditeur, 1947]. Kinsey Institute Library: 843.8 B33 h6 1940
The first work of fiction published by Georges Bataille (1897-1862), Histoire de l’œil [Story of the Eye] chronicles the sexual escapades and misbehavior of a nameless uninhibited teenage narrator, his main lover Simone, an English voyeur, and a suicidal mentally-ill sixteen-year-old girl called Marcelle. One of the episodes describes the murder of a seduced Spanish priest who is strangled after reaching sexual climax with Simone. His eye is then inserted into sundry cavities, hence the title. The first edition of the book was published, under the pseudonym of Lord Auch, by René Bonnel in 1928. The “new version” exhibited here, illustrated with six etchings by the German artist Hans Bellmer (1902-1975), was edited by the writer and publisher Alain Gheerbrant in 1947 (in spite of the date indicated on the title-page). A later edition, clandestinely published in 1951 in Paris, was condemned by the Criminal Court of the Seine, France, on May 8, 1951. The first edition to be issued under the author’s real name was published in the late 1960s, after Bataille’s death, by Jean-Jacques Pauvert, notable for also publishing the works of the Marquis de Sade.