By Georges Bataille

Set opposed to the backdrop of Europe's slide into Fascism, "Blue of Noon" is a blackly compelling account of depravity and violence. As its narrator lurches despairingly from urban to urban in a surreal sexual and psychological nightmare of squalor, sadism and drunken encounters, his inner cave in mirrors the scuffling with and marching at the streets outdoors. Exploring the darkish forces underneath the outside of civilization, this can be a novel torn among picking with history's sufferers and being seduced via the substantial glamour of its negative victors, and is among the 20th century's nice nihilist works.

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I was going too fast; a man who was probably drunk suddenly stepped in front of my car. I braked violently and managed to avoid him, but my nerves were shaken. I was sweating profusely. A little farther on, I thought I recognized Lazare in the com­ pany of Monsieur Melou, in gray jacket and straw hat. I was sick with dread. ) At the hotel I declined to take the elevator and climbed the stairs. I threw myself onto one of the beds. I heard the sound of my heart inside my bones. I felt my veins beating, laboriously, in both temples.

Funnily enough, my sickly excitement gave way to calm; the strange, pervasive sound of her voice had filled me with semi-contented apathy. For a long while I looked at Xenie, not saying anything, smiling at her. I saw that she had on a navy-blue silk dress with a white collar, pale stockings, and white shoes. Under the dress her fig­ ure looked slender and pretty. Beneath the carefully combed black hair, her face was young. I was sorry I was so sick. I said to her without hypocrisy, "I find you very at­ tractive today .

She seems like someone from another world. There are people here, workers, who felt ill-at-ease with her. They admired her, then they ran into her at the Criolla. Here at the Criolla she looked like a spook. Her friends they were sitting at the same table - were appalled. They couldn't understand her being here. One day, one of them started drinking, in exasperation. He lost his head. He ordered a bottle, just the way you did. ,He emptied glass after glass. I thought he'd end up in bed with her.

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