Bataille's first novel, published under the pseudonym 'Lord Auch', is still his most notorious work. In this explicit pornographic fantasy, the young male narrator and his lovers Simone and Marcelle embark on a sexual quest involving sadism, torture, orgies, madness and defilement, culminating in a final act of transgression. Shocking and sacreligious, "Story of the Eye" is the fullest expression of Bataille's obsession with the closeness of sex, violence and death. Yet it is also hallucinogenic in its power, and is one of the erotic classics of the twentieth century.
Bataille's erotic novels Story of the Eye and Madame Edwarda seem almost to call for illustration; they summon the eye. The illicit acts that they relate and the first person narrator they employ position the reader as a sort of voyeur. Told in retrospect, Story of the Eye recounts the sexual thrall that the narrator fell into with a young woman named Simone. After they involve their friend Marcelle and a libertine named Sir Edmond in bizarre sexual acts that frequently center around Simone's fascination with eggs, Marcelle hangs herself and Simone, Sir Edmond, and the narrator decamp for Spain where they attend a bullfight and torture Don Aminando, a priest, before raping him and removing his eye. The novel closes with the three lovers disguising themselves and fleeing on a ship. Madame Edwarda is a short novel that tells the story of one drunken night of debauch in the narrator's life during which he picks up a prostitute, watches her have sex with a cab driver, and then becomes convinced that she is God. The detailed descriptions of spatial relationships in these novels-from the physical arrangement of Simone and the narrator on the bicycle as they pedal to visit Marcelle in the asylum to Edwarda's movements around the arch at Porte SaintDenis-recall the obsessive primacy given to arrangement in Robbe-Grillet's nouveaux romans. This architectonics of objects sees its supreme expression in the organization of bodies, which at times is so complicated as to defy visualization: Simone "lay down with her head under my cock between my legs, and thrusting her cunt in the air, she brought her body down toward me, while I raised my head to the level of that cunt: her knees found support on my shoulders" (6). Add to these visual elements the centrality of looking in Bataille's Story of the Eye-not only the overdetermined presence of the eye but also the mutual gazes that the narrator and Simone exchange whenever they engage in a sexual act-and the ocular summons these novels issue becomes almost an imperative.
Directed by Nicole Jefferson Asher, Story of the Eye is a feminist re-interpretation of the Georges Bataille novella of the same name, set as an opera. The film follows Georges, played by Graham Skipper, through his increasingly perverse sexual encounters with the vixen Simone (Erickson).