Ilium Journal

Redirecting in 5 seconds....


Summer in Vézelay


Text by Tereza Zelenkova

Last summer, when I quite by chance found myself in Burgundy, I decided to take a little detour from where I was staying and visited Vézelay, a small town where Bataille spent a few years during the War and kept returning to until his death in 1962. Vézelay’s dominant architecture is the impressive Basilica, which stands on the top of the hill, to which Bataille supposedly owned the keys. For Bataille, religious and sexual ecstasy was never too far from each other, something he often demonstrated with the case of St. Theresa of Avila.

Here in Vézelay, Bataille finished his book Guilty, something of a masterpiece combining literature, philosophy, diary, and poetry into one. It is also a place where he’s buried. 

My boyfriend took a photo of me sitting outside his former house there. When I approached the door and was about to sit down, I noticed something lying on the doorstep. I lent down and to my absolute awe I picked up a small bird’s egg that fell from a nest positioned in the corner of the doorway. For those who haven’t read Story of the Eye, the egg plays a vital symbolic role in this erotic novel published by Bataille under the pseudonym of Lord Auch.

I kept the egg in the pocket of my trousers, trying to preserve it but later I crushed it by accident when I squatted to pee and forgot it was there. When I got back to our house I asked a friend to give me a matchbox for it. Only days later I noticed the picture of eggs on the box. These are the things that make me laugh on the inside and the things I look for when taking photographs – these coincidental connections that you don’t plan and that make photography exciting.