Read Dark Star by Georges Bataille Candice Black Online


The spectre of Gilles de Rais, satanist and child-killer, eclipses French history like a dark star. A fallen general, once the champion of Jeanne d'Arc, de Rais' riches and experimentations led him to the very gates of Hell.With quotations, essays and fiction, as well as a complete chronology and register of people and places in de Rais' brief but cataclysmic existence, "DThe spectre of Gilles de Rais, satanist and child-killer, eclipses French history like a dark star. A fallen general, once the champion of Jeanne d'Arc, de Rais' riches and experimentations led him to the very gates of Hell.With quotations, essays and fiction, as well as a complete chronology and register of people and places in de Rais' brief but cataclysmic existence, "Dark Star is a richevocation of the satanic allure of the most intriguing figure in the annals of mass murder....

Title : Dark Star
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ISBN : 9781840681154
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 100 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Dark Star Reviews

  • Jonfaith
    2018-10-09 16:12

    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 fact that he was crying.This observation occurs near the end of Bataille's summation of crimes and trial of the infamous de Rais. Following this is 150 pages of transcripts from the ecclesiastical and secular trials. What Bataille achieves in his Foucauldean burrowing is a 15C world where the devil or at least a diabolical affinity had to be culpable. His own analysis is rather Marxist, looking at the milieu of the gentry with its privilege and the subsequent marginalization of the peasantry. All of this transpired during a time of day incessant warfare between England and France. All of this contributes to a berserker medium of sexual experimentation.Beyond that, it was largely inexplicable that this man who once fought alongside Joan of Arc would later seek to and succeed in sodomizing and murdering 140 children.I should note that my subconscious appeared to be maladjusted by this gruesome experience. Be forewarned.

  • sologdin
    2018-10-10 20:20

    In wondering if Gilles de Rais is the “most abject criminal of all time,” this text opens with the observation that “crime hides” (13), parallel to Poe’s principle that “thus the essence of all crime is undivulged.” (Please be advised that, for modern purposes, de Rais stands convicted of the abduction, rape, and murder of dozens of minor children; the facts may bear the allegation that his toll runs rather into the hundreds.)Bataille notes that de Rais is “monstrous,” a “legendary monster” (17) likened and at times equated in the folklore with Bluebeard. (We should note well the etymology of monstrous here, perhaps recalling the significance of it in Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers--Bataille’s subheading for this section ‘Sacred Monster,’ which is totally Genet.) But if de Rais is a warning, against which Evil does he warn? If he is sacred, for whom is he consecrated in the agambenian sense? “As if so excessive a story was unable to have anything but a monster as its protagonist, a being outside common humanity for whom the only appropriate name was one charged with legendary miasmas. Bluebeard could not have been one of our own, only a sacred monster unbound the limits of ordinary life” (19). But, there’s also a sense of “sovereign monstrosity” (20).One refrain is that de Rais is an ‘energumen,’ 0ne possessed (from Greek energeo, ‘to influence’) (21, 47, 60, 124). For de Rais, “as for barbarians of the past, the goal was breaking bounds; it was a question of living soverignly” (34); “the privilege of the German warrior was to feel himself above the laws” (id.). Bataille regards the monstrosity however as “childlike” (33): “in the manner of savages” and “as a cannibal”—“more precisely, as one of his Germanic ancestors, unbounded by civilized principles” (id.). This basic narrative here is as though it were the model for de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom: de Rais’ lineages “number among the noblest, richest, and most influential houses of feudal society” (24). It is most definitely a matter of “libertines inured in vice” (40). His father died at Agincourt; he was raised by his grandfather, a bandit, whose “fortune is considerable”: “Except for the ducal family, his is the richest feudatory in Anjou” (26). Regarding some of the crimes that de Rais and his grandfather committed, “it is possible to imagine the brutalities of the Nazis” (27). He is certainly guided by instrumental reason (with all of the critique that Horkheimer gives of this concept inThe Eclipse of Reason) insofar as de Rais “is in agreement with the principle of reason which always, in an act, looks to the end result” (27). At his trial, de Rais noted “the origin of these crimes” as “the bad management he had received in his childhood” (35)—in this prototypical serial killer case, we always already have the cliché of the abused childhood as mitigatory evidence. Likely these crimes are not gendered, or at least gender is not substantially probative—we have a Hungarian aristocrat, one Erzebeth Bathory” who “yielded to a desire to kill daughters of the lesser nobility” (41). This leads to the quasi-marxist argument that de Rais “represents in a pure state the impulse that tends to subordinate the activity of men to enchantment, to the game of the privileged class” (42). Our monstrous protagonist here is “the very principle of the nobility, what it is in essence, is the refusal to suffer degradation or disgrace – which would be the inevitable effect of work” (id.). We must recall that de Rais was one of Joan of Arc’s marshals, and had success against the English occupant during the Hundred Years War: “The interest of work is subordinated to its result; the interest of war is nothing but war” (43). (Some think that de Rais was preparing to rescue Joan at Rouen just before her execution (81); his crimes began after she was executed and the war was over.)Bataille wants to argue that “the tragedy of de Rais […] is the tragedy of feudal society, the tragedy of the nobility” (46). Part of the tragedy, allegedly, is de Rais’ financial ruin, based on extravagant expenditure that caused him to alienate a number of properties (by ‘property,’ we mean castles). After the war was over, de Rais, “for whom the game of war was lost, needed a compensation. He seems to have found it in the game of ostentatious expenditure” (48). In societies different from our own—we ourselves accumulate wealth with a view to continual growth—the principle has prevailed instead to squander or lose wealth, to give it away or destroy it. Accumulated wealth has the same meaning as work; on the other hand, wealth wasted or destroyed in tribal potlaches has the meaning of a game. Accumulated wealth has only a subordinate value; in the eyes of whoever squanders or destroys it, wealth squandered or destroyed has a sovereign value, for it serves nothing else if not this squandering itself, or this fascinating destruction. (48) The properties alienated included the castle of Machecoul:as well as his castle in Champtoce:and the castle of Tiffauges:After he sold some of these, his relatives interdicted him, obtaining “royal letters of prohibition” against him (52, 97). The scope of the spending, for instance, was 80-100,000 crowns for several visits to Orleans for a festival in honor of Joan in 1435—which may amount to “a billion of our own money” (96). Finding “feudal superiority, insolence, and exploitation essential to the nobility,” Bataille notes that the “impulse that personifies tragedy can be accounted for by one formula: facing headlong into the impossible” (53). In that connection, the weirdest aspect of all this—and the most important for the ancient law—is the conjuring Satan stuff. Many of the children were apparently sacrificed as part of sorcerous rites, and dude retained conjurors and alchemists and whatnot. Part of the alchemy stuff was to fabricate gold, and de Rais was apparently taken in by scammers here; the narrative therefore also prefigures Ben Jonson and Kit Marlowe. (He also prefigures celebrity impersonators to the extent that he retained a fake Joan in 1439 (110). Wtf?)After the wars ended, de Rais’ expenditures were in part to maintain his own private army, which took to banditry, as he had learned from his grandfather; i.e., we should note very fucking well that the bandit here is not a Robin Hood, but rather a multi-castle owning aristocrat who is addicted to war. The monarch issued “the great ordinance of 1439 following a meeting of the Estates General of Orleans” which ordinance “points to the continual progress, in spite of overwhelming disorder, of administration [!] and law over arbitrariness and violence,” and it is “to put and end to ‘the tremendous excesses and pillages’ that are desolating the realm” and seeks “to substitute a regular army based on discipline and military hierarchy for the bands of brigands commanded by lords” (117). Bataille interestingly regards this ordinance as: “dictated by reason, marks the birth of the modern world, a bourgeois world, where the unrestrained violence of a Gilles de Rais will find no place” (117). This is what Ayn Rand and her objectivist cult will never understand: the want of a public sphere, of a state, is the feudalist world of private arms and indiscriminate violence led by the propertied. The bourgeois order is instituted as a public space, by a state, with its monopolization on legitimate violence, that protects the space necessary for liberal institutions to develop. When I read Rand, all I see de Rais.The last two-fifths of the text contains the trial documents. Procedurally it’s all very interesting, moving very fast from investigation to indictment to trial to execution. Substantively it seems fairly obvious that the evidence is beyond sufficient to convict, though torture is used (not against the parents of missing children, who all said that they delivered their kids over to the servants of de Rais, and the servants, who explained the rituals and rapes and murders). What is damned curious is that the indictment (168 ff) and depositions (209 ff) and sentences (204 ff) are very concerned about sodomy and heresy and sorcery—but where is murder? It is a bizarre, curious, gross absence.The ultimate weirdness is that, just prior to their executions, de Rais told his two main servants that “as soon as their souls left their bodies, those who had committed evil together would thereby meet each other again in glory, with God, in paradise” (284). The servants were hanged and burned, whereas de Rais was hanged and then “before the flames could open his body and entrails, it was drawn away and his body placed in a coffin and carried inside the Carmelite church of Nantes, where it was buried” (285). I guess all that murder and rape and whatnot was okay after all.

  • Jodi Lu
    2018-09-24 19:22

    I give up. I give up because I had to take Gravity's Rainbow to work today instead to get a respite from the torture of reading this book, and Gravity's Rainbow is nothing if not an unnatural respite, and I assure you the aforementioned "torture" had nothing to do with Gilles de Rais, one of the most compelling actual torturers of all time, his perversion and bloodthirst outshining the competition even during the very golden age of outlandish torturing! I braced myself (as one needs to do similarly with both Bataille and the juiciest serial killers, typically), but met only Bataille's unfortunate restraint or just...utter failure to present anything but the most tepid, clinical rendering imaginable of a mindbogglingly gullible and stupid beast of a man who first buddied up with Joan of Arc but then actually (or concurrently, as the case may be) raped and gruesomely killed and dismembered HUNDREDS of innocent children. I mean, there it is: goosebumps quiver up even from thinking about Gilles' sending out his charismatic, orgy- and wine-bloated toadies to procure so many of the most beautiful children to the putrid castles to sodomize them, slit their throats, rip them asunder and proudly display their decorative bits about, put pieces of them into jars to use in the invocation of demons, collect their heads in rooms to rank them in cherubic beauty as the flesh started to shrink back from their mouths! HOW COULD BATAILLE SCREW THIS UP??!I grant he had limited and dull sources and I certainly didn't want him to invent details beyond these court transcriptions, but come ON: allow me the chills this nakedly demands! You are the master of perversion and you glued on your historian cap at the most annoying moment. To sum up what I think transpired to snuff out the potential glut of enticing depravity: destructive interference. I wouldn't have believed it had I not read this myself, but the wavelengths of the most deranged writer fully offset the tale of one of the most flagitious, flamboyant killer-freaks of all time. Snore fest.

  • Miguel
    2018-10-10 18:38

    Gilles de Rais como figura representante de la maldad en su forma más pura y simple es bastante adecuada, como un animal salvaje, corrupto e inocente, formado por sí mismo y su entorno.Esa era la premisa del libro, una biografía. Fue una lectura clara pero esperaba más considerando la capacidad descriptiva de Bataille y su atracción por lo visceral lo cual es una pena ya que este libro pudo haber sido ataque toxico hacia la mente si se hubiera hecho con esa intención.

  • Joel Ortiz-Quintanilla
    2018-10-11 22:32

    this is the only book in my entire life that i had to throw away and stop reading it, this book had me dreaming that i was eating people and i was liking it, i woke up the next day and sold the book to get high instead, that is the kind of author bataille is, he gets inside of you and disturbs, the only book, that i had to throw away before i became crazy, yeah, it was okay, the life story of the gilles de rais, very interesting, its funny that le bas is the story of a govt employee who is writing a bio on the gilles de rais and years later bataille is the govt employee who writes the novel, yeah, devil worshiping stuff, very evil, very bad.

  • Tosh
    2018-10-06 15:40

    Kind of an early true-crime book, but re-done by the great kink of all kinks, M. Georges Bataille. My friend Stuart (Amok) put this book together and he did an amazing job as a publisher (only another publisher appreciates other publishers). The trial manuscripts read like a combination of a Dennis Cooper novel and a work from a weird part of the brain. Remarkable.

  • The Literary Chick
    2018-09-28 20:14

    How many times can you write the same thing? Apparently, quite a few.

  • Affasf
    2018-09-29 19:27

    Il declino di Gilles de Rais mostra aspetti di magnificenza funebre. Si sente l’ossessione della morte: poco per volta, un uomo si chiude nella solitudine del crimine, dell’omosessualità, della tomba; in quel profondo silenzio, i volti che l’ossessionano sono quelli dei bambini morti, che egli profana in un turpe abbraccio. In questo scenario di fortezze – e di tombe – il declino di Gilles de Rais assume l’aspetto d’una allucinazione teatrale. Noi non possiamo giudicare gli stati d’animo di questo mostro. Ma è certamente da quella camera sporca di sangue, nella quale le teste di bambini lo stavano a fissare, che gli capitò di uscire, la mattina presto, per vagare per le strade di Machecoul e di Tiffauges. Una lunga e intollerabile allucinazione potrebbe esprimere qualcosa di più vero, di più sentito? Il personaggio di Gilles de Rais è collegato a questa tragica apparizione. Essa si connette a questo declino in una maniera che, oltre alla tragedia personale di Rais, mette in luce quella d’un mondo al quale si addice un personaggio sanguinario, che, dai Berserkir al signor di Charlus, rivela in ogni caso una crudele ingenuità. Infatti, il mondo feudale non può essere disgiunto dall’eccesso, che è il principio stesso delle guerre. Queste verità dette a proposito di Gilles de Rais hanno precisamente il vantaggio di derivare dall’origine impura della sua vita. La tragedia non può essere che impura: anzi è tanto più vera in quanto è impura. Oltre a ciò non bisogna poi dimenticare un principio che, per quanto misconosciuto, non è per questo meno saldo: e cioé che, senza la nobiltà, senza il rifiuto di calcolare e di riflettere (la qual cosa ne costituisce l’essenza), non ci sarebbe tragedia, ma soltanto riflessione e calcolo. Parlando della tragedia di Gilles de Rais, considerata come tragedia dalla riflessione greve, dalla riflessione che tien conto del mondo che rifiutò la riflessione (che anzi considera tale rifiuto il punto di partenza). Questo va detto parlando di Gilles de Rais, che si distingue da tutti coloro per i quali il crimine è personale. I crimini di Gilles de Rais sono quelli del mondo nel quale egli li commette. È quel mondo a mettere in mostra le gole squarciate. Quel mondo ammetteva quelle crudeli differenze che lasciavano indifese le gole degli umili. In quel mondo andava comunque formandosi il movimento che avrebbe ridotto, se pure lentamente, quelle differenze... Questo lento movimento che, prendendo le mosse da una violenza opposta, avrebbe avuto a sua volta una tragica ruvidezza.

  • Tom Schulte
    2018-10-12 19:12

    Reading Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris recalled to me this book by Georges Bataille, for some reason I couldn't place. Then, as the author got into WW II-era philosphers and surrealists and mentioned Bataille, I figured we were on the same wavelength.Something about clumsy and lethally confused de Rais speaks to the "banality of evil". This book presenting so much unearthed trial transcripts made this horrible monster real and believable, like the police reports of Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris.It's also amazing how de Rais caused so much mayhem without getting caught, like so many serial killers. Of course, de Rais had his hired minions who "were just following orders", bringing me back to the Nazis...

  • Grouchung
    2018-09-30 22:14

    If you are reading this expecting hardcore lurid horror scenes, or to wallow in the perversity and terror of Gilles de Rais' crimes, this is really not the book for that.However, I did really enjoy it. There's something interesting in how Bataille tries to delve in to the culture and mindset of that era, of how he tries to navigate around Rais' motives and possible madness. There are descriptions of his crimes which are horrific in themselves, but essentially that is not what this book is about. It felt more like a piece that is trying to puzzle out the unfathomable depths that the grand horror Rais' crimes present, that something that massive had to have had some origin or motive.Bataille and the editors did a pretty good job of giving the book and transcripts a sort dreadful atmosphere, but this is not a book for people who are looking for blood and guts.

  • Ben Fairchild
    2018-10-07 19:25

    This is about the same guy that Cradle of Filth's latest album is about. He used to rape and sodomise little children in the worst possible way (as if there were a best possible) I do wonder about all this gothic stuff sometimes. He also fought as a commander under Joan of Arc; I am a big fan of St Joan obviously - the warrior virgin of Christ - yummy! I am going to see Cradle of Filth play on the 26th. I am looking forward to the support band just as much. Of course Cradle of Filth are famous for their 'Jesus is a c**t' t-shirts. I suppose it is a lot more Christian than most other things and now that that has been said we can all get on with it can't we?

  • Alyssa
    2018-10-01 19:20

    While this book is by no means flawless, it does have a solid collection of pieces on the fact and the fiction surrounding Gilles de Rais. I appreciate the patchwork style of it. It appeals to the artist and the historian. The highlights of it are the extensive extract from Bataille's The Trial of Gilles de Rais, Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, and the otherwise difficult-to-find Tragedy in Blue by Richard Thoma. The book deserves 5 stars just for having these three together.

  • TR
    2018-10-16 21:39

    One would think that a writer like Bataille would have some very interesting things to say about such an infamous murderer, but his essay is only mildly interesting. A short, worthwhile read, but unsatisfying and forgettable.

  • Virgil S.
    2018-10-05 18:21

    The actual trial documents and timeline are an essential asset, but I could do without Bataille's nonsensical rambling, which offers nothing of value.

  • Dennis
    2018-09-28 21:35


  • Chelsea
    2018-10-23 15:33

    An interesting topic for those with strong stomachs, but disjointed and poorly done. Worth trudging through if you need the information for a class, but otherwise not a pleasant read.

  • Neil
    2018-09-26 17:23

    This guy was REAL fucked up

  • Daniel
    2018-10-04 17:30

    so far, so very bloody good...