Revisiting Pierre Guyotat’s Éden, éden, éden: splanchnology, writing, matter, and the devastation of ethics

Hester, Diarmuid (2015) Revisiting Pierre Guyotat’s Éden, éden, éden: splanchnology, writing, matter, and the devastation of ethics. French Forum, 40 (1). pp. 31-45. ISSN 0098-9355

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Abstract

In this article I revisit French avant-gardist Pierre Guyotat’s incendiary work Éden, Éden, Éden (1970), an infamous piece of writing that drew much interest when it was released and continues to inspire new generations of experimental prose stylists.

Upon publication, Éden was seized and censored by the French Ministry for the Interior, which considered its lurid depiction of carnal acts a significant threat to the moral and ethical well-being of France’s youth. The ban and the struggle for its repeal became a cause celebre for many of France’s artists and writers, who condemned what they perceived to be the unjust repression of legitimate artistic expression.

I argue that this episode determined the subsequent reception of the work, thenceforth regarded as merely an exercise in transgression, propelled against the limits of bourgeois and state-sanctioned conservativism. In this article I interrogate predominant claims that Éden is primarily a work of transgressive genius which aims at the subversion of conventional morality in the mode of the Marquis de Sade or Georges Bataille.

Excoriating previous readings for their indolence and lack of attentiveness to the text, I contend that the text’s radical heart lies not in the inconsequential frisson of an occasional transgression but in Guyotat’s attempt to produce a coldly scientific, non-sentimentalised vision of the world as it is, devoid of anthropocentric ethics and morality.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0045 Theory. Philosophy. Esthetics
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0045 Theory. Philosophy. Esthetics > PN0045.5 Relation to and treatment of special elements, problems, and subjects > PN0056.A-Z Other special. Topics A-Z > PN0056.S5 Sex
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures > PQ0001 French literature
Depositing User: Diarmuid Hester
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2015 08:39
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:41
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/54980
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