Eden, Eden, Eden  

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“In the palace of gilded wood, pigs stir among the barrels at the end of the yard, small birds flutter around, the sun vibrates in the blue, the prisoners howl, lying on the slush of cock droppings, a child, iron-armoured, tightly wrapped in leather, pricks them with a stick, they then become silent, hold out their arms, open their hands, frogs jump out of them, their song dies on the slush…”

[...]

“Khamssieh’s hand, weak, crushing tarantula in nostril : venom hardening forehead ; fingernails scraping cold blood around nipples ; pulling dead tarantula, pinching sticky legs, out of nostril, pushing crushed spider between buttocks ; exhausted elbows dropping onto heaps of floor-cloths : penis contracting into shriveled scrotum ; odour of sodomy wafting through room ; rubbing of jeans, farts : regular in dawn silence….”

--Eden, Eden, Eden (1971) by Pierre Guyotat

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Eden, Eden, Eden (1971) is a controversial novel by French author Pierre Guyotat (1940 – 2020) set in Algeria in the time of the Algerian War.

The book was first published in 1971 with a preface by Michel Leiris, Roland Barthes, Marguerite Duras, and Philippe Sollers.

The book was banned from being publicized or sold to minors. A petition of international support was signed by the likes of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Jean-Paul Sartre, Pierre Boulez, Joseph Beuys, Pierre Dac, Jean Genet, Joseph Kessel, Maurice Blanchot, Max Ernst, Italo Calvino, Jacques Monod, Simone de Beauvoir, and Nathalie Sarraute.

François Mitterrand, and Georges Pompidou tried to get the ban lifted but failed. Claude Simon (who won the Nobel Prize in 1985) resigned from the jury of the Prix Médicis after the prize wasn't awarded to Eden, Eden, Eden.

In 1981 the ban on Eden, Eden, Eden was lifted.

Its text consists of long enumerations of atrocities, obscenities and erotics separated by semicolons.

It was published in an English translation in 2003 by Creation Books. Stephen Barber writes in its preface:

"Eden, Eden, Eden is a delirious and exhausting book to experience: it propels its reader into itself with fury and adrenalised elation. The hero of the book is an Algerian prostitute boy, Wazzag, who participates in an infinite series of sex acts. The book stinks of sperm and killing: it is a malignant orgasm.
On the publication of 'Eden, Eden, Eden, Roland Barthes wrote that Guyotat's book literally constituted a historical shock. The writer Philippe Sollers said that nothing had been done that risked so much since the novels of the Marquis de Sade. Guyotat has relentlessly beaten the comatose, catatonic nature of language into an anatomical matter of writing. Guyotat is the most original writer alive, and Eden, Eden, Eden is his most livid, atrocious book. It will derange you and it will scar you."

Incipit

/ Soldiers, helmets cocked down, legs spread, trampling, muscles drawn back, over new-born babes swaddled in scarlet, violet shawls : babies falling from arms of women huddled on floors of G.M.C. trucks ; driver's free hand pushing back goat thrown forward into cab ; / Ferkous pass, RIMA platoon crossing over track ; soldiers jumping out of trucks ; RIMA squad lying down on gravel, heads pressed against flint-pitted, thorn-studded tires, stripping off shirts in shadow of mudguards ; women rocking babies against breasts ; rocking movement stirring up scents sharpened with bonfire-sweat impregnating rags, hair, flesh : oil, cloves, henna, butter, indigo, black antimony - in Ferkous valley, below breakwater heaped with charred cedars, barley, wheat, bee-hives, tombstones, drinks-stand, school, gaddous, fig-trees, mechtas, stone walls oozing spattered with brains, orchards blooming, palm-trees, swollen in fire, exploding : flowers, pollen, buds, grasses, paper, rags spotted with milk, with shit, with blood, fruit-peel, feathers, lifted, shaken, tossed from flame to flame in wind pulling up fire, from earth ; slumping soldiers straightening up, sniffing tarpaulin flaps, pressing tear-stained cheeks onto burning rails, rubbing members against dusty tires ; sucking in cheeks, drooling over painted wood ; truck-squad, down in dry river bed, cutting rhododendrons, milk from stalks mixing on knife-blades with blood of youths disembowelled in onyx-quarry against central vein ; soldiers cutting back, pulling up saplings, digging out roots with studded boots ; others kicking, swinging lopsided : camel-dung, grenades, eagle-carrion ; RIMA squad clambering into trucks, falling onto women, guns at sides, hardened members spurring violet rags clasped between women's thighs ; soldier, chest crushing baby sucking at breast, parting woman's hair pushed over eyes, stroking forehead with fingers covered in powdered onyx ; orgasm spurting saliva from mouth, dowsing baby's buttered scalp ; retracted member resting softening on shawls soaking up dye ; wind shaking trucks, sand whipping against axles, sheet-metal ; / soldiers clambering into trucks : RIMA squad, leaning against tarpaulin pressed down on necks by driving rain, buttoning up ; eyes shining in darkening shadows, fingers glimmering on belt-buckles ; goats, sweat of pursuit around bonfires soaking coats, crouching down, licking rags tied around thighs of women ; silent youth wrapped in sackcloth......

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