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Ritual of Filth: Georges Bataille’s The Dead Man (Translated into English by R J Dent) – a review by Tom Bland

June 22, 2020



by Tom Bland


RJ Dent’s masterful translation of Georges Bataille’s The Dead Man opens the work to the English speaking world. The work is essentially about the explosive lust that arises from grief: it may seem alien to connect the two, but psychoanalysis has often proposed a correlation between eroticism and mourning. I once read a case-study of a woman who masturbated for two days after she lost her father, which made me think of Bataille’s My Mother, where the main character masturbates while standing over the corpse of his mother in the funeral parlour.

In the opening of The Dead Man:

When Edouard fell back back dead, a vast emptiness opened up inside Marie. A prolonged shudder went through her, and lifted her up like an angel.


Marie seduces a rich Dwarf (with the title of Count) entangling him in the sexuality that erupts out of the “shudder”:


What Marie saw in the Dwarf’s eyes was the insistence of death.

On unsteady legs, she trembled.

Staring at the [Dwarf], she backed away.

Without warning, she vomited.

She looked at the pool of vomit in front of her.

Her torn and ripped coat was barely covering her body.


The book becomes more extreme as Marie’s world falls apart. As her life twists out of shape so does her libido, as the loss manifests as pure unadulterated desire like the cocaine only Kate Moss or Quentin Tarantino can afford. Marie needs to fuck but not the normal kind of fucking; her body explodes in the spontaneous acts of pissing, shitting, vomiting, which rip apart the confines of her life. The Dwarf has an erection throughout, and he is not the only one.


Marie went wild. She bared her teeth and bit down on the [Dwarf’s] cock, hard.

Pierrot dragged Marie off the [Dwarf]. He held her by the wrists, dragging her.

The [Dwarf] guided Pierrot’s cock into Marie…


Bataille describes everything in exquisite detail as if writing the notes for a case study he is going to submit to a psychoanalytic journal but he has yet to obscure the sexuality with technical terms such as the id, “the seething cauldron of excitation” [Freud].


“Stop staring at me,” Marie said, “or I’ll piss on you…”

She clambered onto the table and squatted.

“If you do, you’ll get me even more excited,” the [Dwarf] said.

Marie pissed on him.

The [Dwarf] received the stream of piss full in the face as Pierrot vigorously wanked his big cock.


RJ Dent’s translation of Bataille’s neglected work is superb and opens and lays bare the philosophical backbone of the work while remaining faithful to Bataille’s erotic story-telling. It is quite obvious that R J Dent is a poet and novelist himself by the way he opens up the intensity and the beauty of the language.


The Dead Man is published by Ragged Lion Press in a limited edition.

It is available at:

R J Dent’s books and information on current projects can be found at:


Tom Bland’s The Death of the Clown came out with Bad Betty Press in 2018, and his next book, Camp Fear, will be out in 2021. He trained in psychotherapy and dream analysis at SOPH/Middlesex University, and studied live art at UEL. He edits the online magazine, Spontaneous Poetics.


Ritual of Filth: A Review of Georges Bataille’s The Dead Man (translated into modern English by R J Dent) – by Tom Bland – June 2020


R J Dent’s translation of Georges Bataille’s Le Mort

May 16, 2020

Poet, novelist and translator R J Dent discusses aspects of his new translation of one of Georges Bataille’s neglected works:

“In my new English translation of Georges Bataille’s The Dead Man, there is a three-page afterword by Bataille, explaining the genesis of his story. In that afterword, Bataille writes of a plane crash he went to investigate:

‘I remember one day hearing an aeroplane whose engine was in trouble.

After a series of splutterings faded into the near distance, there was a heavy, percussive shock. I got on my bicycle and pedalled in the direction of the crash. It took me a while to find the crash site.

It was burning in the centre of a large apple orchard. Trees near to the plane had been scorched black. Three, maybe four, bodies flung from the wrecked plane, lay dead on the grass.

It was a German plane, probably shot down by an English fighter somewhere over the Seine Valley, which was only a short distance away from where I was staying, which was why it had managed to get to the orchard before crashing.

A dead German airman…’

Georges Bataille’s crashed plane anecdote wouldn’t be out of place in one of J.G. Ballard’s books; it has the same detached and dispassionate tone and style. It was clearly a defining moment for Bataille, and its depiction of the horror of violent death in the midst of everyday calm is the same tone (and the same theme) that infuses The Dead Man.”


The Dead Man

Author: Georges Bataille

Translator: R J Dent

Language: English

Pages: 36

Format: A5

Published May 2020

Price: £3.75


The Dead Man by Georges Bataille

Originally published in 1967 as Le Mort by Jean-Jacques Pauvert

Translated into English by R J Dent

Translation Copyright © R J Dent (2020)


Cover Art by Alexander Adams

Image © Alexander Adams


Published by Ragged Lion Press in an edition of 100 copies




Georges Bataille’s The Dead Man translated into modern English by R J Dent

May 9, 2020

R J Dent’s brand-new modern English translation of Georges Bataille’s The Dead Man, originally published in France in 1967, is now available in modern accessible English from Ragged Lion Press.



Georges Bataille’s The Dead Man, originally published as Le Mort, is the story of Marie, a woman who after witnessing the sudden death of her lover, Edouard, wanders naked and grieving through the night streets of a French town, sinking deeper and deeper into depravity as she seeks to escape the agony of loss…


R J Dent’s brand-new version of The Dead Man is the first twenty-first century modern English translation of Georges Bataille’s classic tale of devotion, depravity and damnation…



Product details:

Title: The Dead Man (Le Mort)

Author: Georges Bataille

Translator: R J Dent

Language: English

Pages: 36

Format: A5

Published May 2020

Price: £3.75


The Dead Man by Georges Bataille

Translated into English by R J Dent

Translation Copyright © R J Dent (2020)

Cover Art by Alexander Adams

Printed by Ragged Lion Press in an edition of 100 copies


Palmistry by Christopher Ringrose – a review

February 3, 2020


Tom Bland’s The Death of a Clown

November 5, 2019

A review by R J Dent


Inside the striking covers of Tom Bland’s poetry pamphlet, The Death of a Clown, there is a challenging and unsettling series of poems. What is effective about this collection is the way in which Tom Bland uses his thought-provoking poetic juxtapositions to elicit, in some cases to force, new meanings from old words.

The poems in The Death of a Clown are full of references to objects from the present (YouTube, iPhone, a Channel 4 documentary), which Tom Bland neatly juxtaposes with objects from the past (a Polaroid camera, a radio tower, a Victorian house), in order to ensure that the poems in The Death of a Clown do what effective and moving poetry always does; to create an ongoing and meaningful dialogue between the present and the past.

Like Stephen King before him, Tom Bland carefully, but seemingly casually, litters his work with cultural references. In The Death of a Clown, Tom Bland’s use of the brand name detritus of modern culture via his invocation of the names of familiar household products deepens the intense realism of his poetry.

This is not to suggest the poems are in the realist school of poetry. They are most definitely not. Throughout the collection, there are references to various religions and systems of belief: Sufism, the Church of Satan, The Rajneesh movement, Islamism, Christianity. Religious leaders are invoked: Jesus, Osho, St. Paul, Muhammad, and then they are adroitly, although possibly inevitably, juxtaposed with serial killers: Ted Bundy, Dennis Nilsen, and Ed Gein. These pointed references and these juxtapositions raise serious questions about the natures of the revered and the reviled, the followers and the followed.

In the same way that the ‘confessional’ poets wrote accounts of their lives by putting fictionalised versions of themselves into their poetry, Tom Bland is also totally unafraid, possibly even eager, to put himself in his own poems:

‘Don’t be afraid to scream, Tom,’

she said/I said to myself.

Mark Waldron says that ‘these poems aren’t confessional, they don’t seek absolution’, and in that, he is correct, although Tom Bland does utilise the ‘confessional’ device in order to give the appearance of speaking directly to the reader (and to himself).

With regards to subject matter, Tom Bland, like Jeremy Reed, is using poetry to push at the genre’s self-imposed boundaries and seems to be trying and succeeding in extending poetry’s subject remit.

The poems themselves are very England-based. The places are name-checked: Bethnal Green, Dalston, Hertfordshire – even the Roundhouse gets an honorary mention; English newspapers and magazines are used as props: The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Teen magazine, Hello magazine. In this respect, the poems are very cinematic, the imagery is strikingly clear, and the light is always good, even when it’s dark.

The collection is saturated in sex; paraphilias abound; the sex in The Death of a Clown is pan-sexual: hetero, homo, bi:

It was and wasn’t fetishism, it was and wasn’t

sexuality; it was and wasn’t perversion…

A later line in the same poem suggests that ‘it’ might very well be ‘the desire to be something other’.

Consequently, the writers cited are mostly referenced as the creators of texts on or about sexuality, often troubled or complex sexuality: D.H. Lawrence, the Marquis de Sade, Edward Edinger, Colin Wilson; the clothing that gets mentioned is often fetishistic: body paints, a monochrome dress, see-through knickers, faux-leather corsets, a policeman’s helmet, satin and PVC G-strings and PVC cowboy boots.

The title of the collection, The Death of a Clown, underscores every human’s inevitable demise. Tom Bland lists some of the stimulants and depressants that humans use to dull their awareness of their own mortality: acid, coke, speed, ketamine, cigs, Weston’s Old Rosie cider, and brandy.

The gods Hekate and Ra get invoked, but they seem to have no discernible power over human destiny, because ultimately, Tom Bland puts the responsibility for being human squarely onto each human being. The poems in The Death of a Clown reveal precisely what it means to be human, and what it means to be mortal, with each human being aware of their own inevitable and imminent death.


Product Details:

Title: The Death of a Clown

Author: Tom Bland

Publisher: Bad Betty Press

Date: November 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9997147-5-8

Pages: 50

Format: Paperback

Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.3 x 21.6 cm

About Tom Bland: Tom Bland completed an MA in Contemporary Performance Practices at the University of East London where he blended poetry with live art practice. He has performed at The Solo Theatre Festival, Bar Wotever, Festival at the Edge, Velvet Tongue, and Franko B’s Untouchable. He is currently devising performances and is currently working on a verse novel with the title Peeling the Apocalypse.

Tom Bland’s website:

Bad Betty Press website:

R J Dent’s website:


Rodney Matthews: Another Time, Another Place

April 11, 2019

R J Dent’s in-depth article about fantasy and science fiction artist, Rodney Matthews.



Stating The Obvious

May 28, 2016

rjdent !A country’s government is an elected body of administrators, voted into place for a pre-agreed term of office. The function of a government is to oversee the improvement of that country by the provision of necessary services to every member of that particular country.

An elected government of a country has one specific duty: to provide a range of necessary, life-enhancing, life-improving services to each and every person of that country’s population, without exclusion.

These services include the protection, the safety, and the well-being of the entire population. These ends are brought about by fair, efficient and effective systems of: economy (investment and taxation), education, health and care, housing, energy, employment, justice and law, rights and representation, arts endowments, transportation, defence and protection, emergency services, urban regeneration and rural conservation.

These services are to be administered and run efficiently by appointed ministers who are either experienced or trained subject-specific experts, so as to benefit the entire population of that country.

The elected government’s job is to implement those services, and to build upon and/or improve on, any pre-existing services.

The temporarily-elected chief executive of the government is the coordinator of all of those service departments of that country. He or she is the person who appoints the experienced or trained subject-specific experts as ministers. The title of this temporarily-elected chief executive of services is Prime Minister, President, Premier, Minister, or another publicly-agreed title.


Copyright © R J Dent (2016)