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Story of the Eye

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Story of the Eye
Cover of the French edition
AuthorGeorges Bataille
Original titleL'histoire de l'œil
TranslatorJoachim Neugroschel
GenreErotic fiction
  • 1928 (in French)
  • 1978 (Urizen Books NY, in English. Translated by Joachim Neugroschel.)
Publication placeFrance
Media typePrint
Pages127 (Penguin Books edition)

Story of the Eye (French: L'histoire de l'œil) is a 1928 novella written by Georges Bataille as Lord Auch (literally, Lord "to the shithouse" — "auch" being short for "aux chiottes," slang for telling somebody off by sending him to the toilet), that details the increasingly bizarre sexual perversions of a pair of teenage lovers, including an early depiction of omorashi fetishism in Western literature. It is narrated by the young man looking back on his exploits. In 1940 an edition of Histoire de l’œil was illustrated by Hans Bellmer. Histoire de l'œil entered the public domain on January 1, 2024.[1]


An unnamed boy in late adolescence initiates a strange sexual relationship with his distant cousin Simone when she indulges the narrator's dare to place her bare buttocks in a cat's saucer of milk. Simone and the narrator consummate their erotic desire at a cliff in front of his villa, involving their friend Marcelle in their activities; the pair soon reveal themselves to be exhibitionists, going so far as to have intercourse in full view of Simone's widowed mother. At one point, Simone develops a fetish for inserting soft-boiled eggs in her vagina and anus. The couple engage in a sadomasochistic orgy with other teenagers, which ends with Marcelle having a mental breakdown. The narrator runs away from home and moves in with Simone after stealing his father's money and gun. Marcelle, meanwhile, is admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Simone and the narrator break Marcelle out of the hospital, but when she recognizes a wardrobe she hid in during the orgy, she hangs herself in a psychotic break. The couple wind up having penetrative sex in front of her body. To escape the legal consequences of Marcelle's suicide, the pair flee and take refuge in Spain. They meet the depraved English aristocrat Sir Edmund, who is happy to accommodate their lifestyle. Edmund tells Simone about the tradition in the aristocracy to eat the testicles of a recently killed bull while watching bull-fighting, and Simone demands the raw testicles of a bull be given to her when they are watching the famous matador El Granero. As Granero is impaled by a bull and his right eye is ripped out of its socket, Simone sticks one of the raw testicles up her vagina and has an orgasm at the same moment El Granero dies.

The three visit a Catholic basilica, where Simone seduces a handsome priest by masturbating while confessing inside of the confessional. Sir Edmund excitedly undertakes a blasphemous parody of the Catholic Eucharist involving desecration of the bread and wine using the priest's urine and semen; Simone strangles the priest to death during his final orgasm. Simone removes the priest's right eye and inserts it into her vagina while continuing her sexual relationship with the narrator. The trio evade the priest's murder investigation and head for Andalusia, where they buy a yacht to continue their debauchery on African soil.

In a postscript, Bataille reveals that the character of Marcelle may have been partially inspired by his own mother, who suffered from bipolar disorder, while the narrator's father is also modeled after his own unhappy paternal relationship. In an English-language edition, Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag provide critical comment on the events.

Barthes: Metaphors of the eye and liquid[edit]

Roland Barthes published the original French version of his essay "Metaphor of the Eye" in Bataille's own journal Critique, shortly after Bataille's death in 1962. Barthes' analysis focuses on the centrality of the eye to this series of vignettes, and notices that it is interchangeable with eggs, bulls' testicles and other ovular objects within the narrative. He also traces a second series of liquid metaphors within the text, which flow through tears, cat's milk, egg yolks, frequent urination scenes, blood and semen.

Furthermore, he argues that he does not believe that Story of the Eye is necessarily a pornographic narrative, given that these structuring chains of metaphors do provide coherent underpinning sequences.

Cultural references[edit]



  1. ^ https://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2024/
  2. ^ Pelly, Jenn (10 January 2013). "Iceage". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Iceage - Ecstasy Lyrics". SongMeanings. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  4. ^ Fairfax, Daniel (17 March 2017). "Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967)". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  5. ^ "of Montreal - The Past is a Grotesque Animal Lyrics". Genius. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  6. ^ Lee, Kyung Eun. "Coming back to love: the 'Before Sunrise' trilogy". The Prospect. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  7. ^ "Story of the Eye". Retrieved 17 August 2023.


  • Bataille, Georges (1977). Story of the Eye. New York: Urizen Books. ISBN 0-916354-90-3.
  • Sontag, Susan (1969). "The Pornographic Imagination". Styles of Radical Will. London: Secker and Warburg. ISBN 0-436-47801-3.