Blue of Noon
Cover of the first edition
|Original title||Le Bleu du Ciel|
Published in English
|Followed by||La littérature et le Mal|
Blue of Noon (French: Le Bleu du Ciel) is an erotic novella by Georges Bataille. Although Bataille completed the work in 1935, it was not published until Jean-Jacques Pauvert did so in 1957. (Pauvert previously published the writings of the Marquis de Sade.) Urizen Books published Harry Mathews' English-language translation in 1978. The book deals with both incest and necrophilia.
Henri Troppmann goes from his sick-bed in Paris to Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War in time to witness the first Catalan General Strike. He is torn between three different women, all of whom arrive in the city at that time. One of them, Lazare, is a Marxist Jew and political activist, who is preparing herself for prospective torture and martyrdom at the hand of General Francisco Franco's troops if she is captured. "Dirty" (or Dorothea) is an incontinent, unkempt alcoholic who repeatedly has sex with Troppmann. Xénie is a young woman who had previously nursed him to health during his violent fever in Paris.
The novel is introduced by a scene of extreme degeneracy in a London hotel room, followed by the narrator's description of a dreamlike encounter with 'the Commendatore' (English: "the Commander"), who in the Don Juan myth is the father of one of Don Juan's victims, and whose statue returns at the end of the story to drag Don Juan down to hell for his sins. Troppmann has to choose between the abject Dirty and her associations of sex, disease, excrement and decay, the politically engaged Lazare, and her ethical values of commitment, resistance and endurance, and Xénie, who has outlived her usefulness. While looking at Lazare beneath a tree, Troppmann realises that he respects her for her social conscience, but also sees her as a rat, and chooses Dirty instead, whilst sending Xénie off with a friend, who is subsequently killed in the street. He travels with Dirty to Treves, the home-town of Karl Marx, where the two copulate in the mud on a cliff overlooking a candle-lit graveyard. They see a Hitler Youth group, lending Dirty a vision of the war to come and their probable deaths. Troppmann leaves her to return to Paris.