London: Atlas Press, 2017. Hardback, 480 pages. New.
The Sacred Conspiracy brings together the work of Georges Bataille who – having spent much of the early 1930s opposing the rise of Fascism in Europe – abandoned that approach and instead turned his attention to “the mythological plane”. Bataille founded two groups in order to explore the relationship between power and the sacred in a society on the verge of collapse. The first of these, the College of Sociology, gave lectures in order to reveal the hidden undercurrents in society. The second group was the Acéphale, a secret society whose emblem was a headless figure which represented, in part, the death of God, and enacted torch-lit rituals in a forest beneath a lightning-blasted oak tree.
The texts collected in The Sacred Conspiracy comprise lectures given to the College of Sociology by Bataille, Roger Callois and Michel Leiris, together with essays from the Acéphale journal and collected papers from the secret society. It is the first book to bring together a representative collection of the writings of Bataille and those closest to him in the years before the Second World War. With an introduction and notes by Marina Galletti & Alastair Brotchie, and illustrated by André Masson, this is an excellent edition for anyone fascinated with Bataille’s life and work.