Blue of Noon  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Le Bleu du Ciel (Eng: Blue of Noon) is a novella of erotic fiction written in 1935 by French author Georges Bataille. Its theme is anti-fascism. Harry Matthews translated it into English in 1978 for Marion Boyars Publishers. It features a scene of necrophilia as a metaphor for warmongering. Todorov in The Fantastic compares a story by Théophile Gautier on necrophilia with Georges Bataille's frank account in realistic terms of a necrophiliac near-encounter in Blue of Noon .

"There is a qualitative difference between the personal possibilities of a nineteenth-century author and those of a contemporary author. We may recall the devious means a Gautier had to employ in order to describe his character's necrophilia, the whole ambiguous business of vampirism." -- page 159

Denis Hollier, among others, have noted that the novel is a modern adaptation of the story of Don Juan.

Plot summary

Henri Troppmann goes from his sick-bed in Paris to Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War in time to witness the first General Strike of the Catalans against the Spanish. 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.


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