A 1950 novel by the author of Story of the Eye and Blue of Noon--again about depravity, of course, and again in the most...

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L'ABBE C

A 1950 novel by the author of Story of the Eye and Blue of Noon--again about depravity, of course, and again in the most philosophical of fashions. Charles and Robert are adult twin brothers living in provincial France, Charles a rake and Robert a priest (""1'AbbÉ"" of the title). Charles' mistress is the debauched young town whore, Eponine, who'll do anything, including submitting to the casual barbarities of the town butcher. But Eponine really wants--no surprise--chaste Robert; Charles, used by her as a surrogate, begins to discover that his own perverse erotic tastes can be best heightened if Eponine can in fact get the priest to relent to her charms; he pitches in to help. And there's a lot of subsequent splashing-around in a tub of mental self-congratulation: ""Even in our disarray we knew that, morally, we were monsters! There was nothing inside of us to control our passions: in heaven we were black as the devil."" But, as always with Bataille, who is no pornographer, the sexuality here is far from explicit: a glimpse of nudity, a smatter of necrophiliac fantasy-play. Instead, almost all the energy is given over to considering the dialectics of ""impossible tension"" embodied by Charles and Robert--who are compared to passing cars: ""The more powerful car garners nothing, while the weaker car, which follows it, knows true happiness at the moment when the faster one makes it feel as if it were backing up."" Despite an abrupt, unearned coda (Gestapo torture/Resistance membership) that attempts to lend allegorical weight: a minor, narcissistic example of Bataille's cerebral approach to sexual debasement.

Pub Date: May 1, 1983

ISBN: 071452848X

Page Count: -

Publisher: Marion Boyars--dist. by Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983