Jun 14, 2010



Entretien avec Georges Bataille à propos de son ouvrage « La littérature et le mal ». Journaliste : Pierre Dumayet. Archives INA, 1958.

****

English translation (thanks to Axel21651) :


P. Dumayet :
What is the Evil you're talking about?

G. Bataille :
There are, I believe, two sorts of Evil basically contrasting.
On the one hand, one is linked to the necessity that everything goes right and succeed.
On the other hand, the other one consists in positively breaking what is forbidden, like for instance, the ban on murder, or several sexual possibilities.

D. :
Does the title mean that Literature and Evil are inseparable?

B. :
I believe yes. Of course this isnt clear at first sight, but I think that if Literature goes away from Evil it becomes quickly boring. It is important to underline that Literature must deal with anguish, that this very anguish is based upon something that goes wrong, and eventually seriously bad. In leading the reader in some unpleasant perspective, I take the example of a novel, Literature avoids to get boring.

D. :
Thus a writer is always guilty of writing..?

B. :
Most of writers aren't fully aware of this, but I do believe in that profound guilt. Writing is basically the opposite of working. It might not appear so logical, although every amusing books are efforts submited to work.

D. :
Could you name 1 or 2 writers that might have felt guilty of writing?

B. :
Well, two of them, which I named in my book, are clearly distinct in that matter. Baudelaire and Kafka, both felt guilty being in the common "wrong" side. It is obvious for Baudelaire who chose the very name "les Fleurs du Mal" to describe his deepest thoughts. Kafka expressed himself even more clearly, he thought that by writing he was disobeying to his fellows and put himself in a situation of guilt. [...]

D. :
But being a writer and being guilty for Baudelaire or Kafka is because it's not a serious occupation, that's what their parents meant. They felt guilt being childish because they were writing. Do you think that Baudelaire and Kafka felt guilty by the very process of writing?

B. :
I think that expressly, even clearly pointed out by them a few times, they felt in the situation of a child towards his parents. The child disobeying to his parents and by then putting himself in a guitly conscience because he remember his affective parents who told him constantly what not to do, that it was bad ; in the strongest sense of the word.

D. :
If Literature is childish, you probably think that it is very puerile?

B. :
I Believe there is something essentially puerile within Literature. That may seem irreconcilable with one's admiration for it, which I share. But I think it is fundamental, that one cannot fully understand what Literature is all about if we do not put it on the childhood side. Which doesn't mean we put it on an inferior level.

D. :
You wrote a book about erotism, is erotism a childish behaviour in Literature?

B. :
I dont know if Literature distinguishes from erotism in general. But I think it is essential to underline the childish character of erotism as a whole. To be erotic is to be fascinated like a child with a game, a forbidden game. The man fascinated by erotism definitly is in the situation of a child towards his parents who is frightened of what might happen. He goes always far enough to be frightened. He doesn't content himself with what wealthy adults do, he must be frightened, he must put himself in the same situation than when he was a child always threatened of being told off harshly ; in an unbearable, intolerable way.

D. :
We may have understood that you are condemning this puerility and childish behaviour, but I think we should go back to the title of your book, Literature and Evil. This is not a condemnation of Literature and Evil. I'd like you to give us the bottom line of this book.

B. :
It is obvious that it's a warning, in this sense that we must warn against a danger, although it is possible that once we warned someone against a danger, we give him reasons to face it, and I think it is essential for us to face the danger which is Literature. I think it is a great and serious danger. But one is really a man only by facing this danger. Its within Literature that we aprehend human perspectives under their fullest shape, since Literature doesn't let us live without aprehending human things through their most violent perspectives. Wether it be tragedy, Shakespeare and so on. It is mainly Literature that allows us to see the worst. And to know how to face it, how to overcome it. on the whole the man who play finds in the game the strenght to overcome what the game leads of horror.

Post a Comment:

Designed By Blogger Templates | Templatelib & Distributed By Blogspot Templates