The Trial of Gilles de Rais

Front Cover
Amok, 1991 - 279 pages
Georges Bataille presents the case of the most infamous villain of the Middle Ages: Gilles de Rais. Fascinated with the depths of human experience--the meeting points of sexuality, violence, ritual, spirituality, and death--Bataille examines with dispassionate clarity the legendary crimes, trials and confessions of this grotesque and still-horrifying 15th-century child-murderer, sadist, alchemist, necrophile and practitioner of the Black Arts. Gilles de Rais began his remarkable career as lieutenant to the devout martyr and saint Joan of Arc; after her execution, he fled to his estates in the countryside of France, where he began to ritually slaughter hundreds of children. After his arrest and subsequent trials, he was hanged and burned at Nantes, France on October 25, 1440. The latter section of The Trial of Gilles de Rais consists of the actual ecclesiastical and secular trial transcripts, annotated by Bataille, and translated from the ecclesiastical Latin by Pierre Klossowski.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jonfaith - LibraryThing

What grips us in Gilles de Rais' death is the compassion. It seems that this criminal moved his audience to compassion; in part by reason of his atrocity, in part by virtue of his nobility and the ... Read full review

Contents

Foreword
5
ANALYSIS OF HISTORICAL FACTS
63
THE TRIAL DOCUMENTS OF GILLES DE RAIS
145
Copyright

1 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1991)

Georges Bataille was a French poet, novelist, and philosopher. He was born in Billon, Puy-de-Dome, in central France on September 10, 1897. His father was already blind and paralyzed from syphilis when Bataille was born. In 1915, Bataille's father died, his mind destroyed by his illness. The death marked his son for life. While working at the Bibliotheque National in Paris during the 1920s, Bataille underwent psychoanalysis and became involved with some of the intellectuals in the Surrealist movement, from whom he learned the concept of incongruous imagery in art. In 1946 he founded the journal Critique, which published the early work of some of his contemporaries in French intellectual life, including Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. Bataille believed that in the darkest moments of human existence-in orgiastic sex and terrible death-lay ultimate reality. By observing them and even by experiencing them, actually in sex and vicariously in death, he felt that one could come as close as possible to fully experiencing life in all its dimensions. Bataille's works include The Naked Beast at Heaven's Gate (1956), A Tale of Satisfied Desire (1953), Death and Sensuality: A Study of Eroticism and the Taboo (1962), and The Birth of Art: Prehistoric Painting (1955). Bataille died in Paris on July 8, 1962.

Richard Robinson

Bibliographic information