Georges Bataille's first text, “Notre-Dame de Rheims,” is in many ways not quite part of his oeuvre. Virtually unknown until after the author's death, its religiosity is generally considered an aberration in the context of his other writings. Yet traces of this text and the sentiment that inspired it can be found in an undercurrent of silent mourning that runs through many of his early articles on art and literature. Against the strong presence of the eye in the conceptual universe that Bataille constructs during the interwar period, this essay delineates a metaphorical order that centers on the ear, revealing an enduring sense of what can be described as a non-sacrificial, melancholy fetishism, in contrast with the orgiastic exuberance of sacrifice that dominates his work.

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