Friday, November 28, 2008

Georges Bataille's House in Vézelay

When I took William S. Burrough's "Ah Pook Is Here" out of my book cupboard to write the post about the Ghäst/Yoga Split, a photograph that I had forgotten about fell out. It is a photograph of Georges Bataille's house in the village of Vézelay, France.

In Le Coupable, Bataille describes his first night in the house:

"Arriving from Paris we entered the house, net curtains of black crêpe were drying on the trees in the sunny garden. This gloomy 'omen' was heart rending (reminding me of the long black streamers of [Innsbruck] presaging my misfortune). The first day we slept at the house, there was a lack of light in the kitchen were we dined. As night fell, the wind accompanying the storm reached an unprecedented violence, the trees in the garden were shaken like rags and twisted in the roaring of the wind. Night finally fell and the lights went out in the whole house. In the darkness I found a Christmas candle and some matches. After a while in the darkness, light finally returned.
These slight difficulties comforted and even seduced me. The calm in the storm had the strongest meaning in my life: the torment coming from the outside had calmed me down. I was afraid of nothing, it seemed to me, which might come from my deep depression."

In Michel Surya's excellent biography of Bataille, we find a description of the interior of the house:

"The house was basic and falling to pieces: a dark, narrow corridor crossed its whole depth. It first led to a dining room, then to a kitchen with a stone sink. Between them, a steep staircase led to the first and only upper floor. The landing led to two bedrooms, which were directly above and the same size as the rooms on the ground floor. One looked onto the road and the other Bataille later made his office, since the view was magnificent, overlooking a narrow terraced garden (through lack of space, Vézelay was constructed by superimposition) and, beyond it, the valley. No stove (only fireplaces), no running water (a pump), no bathroom".

Bataille first moved to the Vézelay house in March 1943, staying there until October. He moved to that house again in 1945 until 1949, when he moved to Carpentras. He was also buried in Vézelay, in 1962, in a small cemetery at the summit of Vézelay hill.

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