The Cradle of Humanity
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The Cradle of Humanity

Prehistoric Art and Culture

By Georges Bataille

Edited by Stuart Kendall

Translated by Michelle Kendall

A radically interdisciplinary inquiry into the origins of human consciousness, community, and potential.

Distributed for Zone Books

Overview

Author(s)

Praise

Summary

A radically interdisciplinary inquiry into the origins of human consciousness, community, and potential.

The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture collects essays and lectures by Georges Bataille spanning 30 years of research in anthropology, comparative religion, aesthetics, and philosophy. These were neither idle nor idyllic years; the discovery of Lascaux in 1940 coincides with the bloodiest war in history—with new machines of death, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima. Bataille's reflections on the possible origins of humanity coincide with the intensified threat of its possible extinction. For Bataille, prehistory is universal history; it is the history of a human community prior to its fall into separation, into nations and races. The art of prehistory offers the earliest traces of nascent yet fully human consciousness—of consciousness not yet fully separated from natural flora and fauna, or from the energetic forces of the universe. A play of identities, the art of prehistory is the art of a consciousness struggling against itself, of a human spirit struggling against brute animal physicality. Prehistory is the cradle of humanity, the birth of tragedy. Bataille reaches beyond disciplinary specializations to imagine a moment when thought was universal. Bataille's work provides a model for interdisciplinary inquiry in our own day, a universal imagination and thought for our own potential community. The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture speaks to philosophers and historians of thought, to anthropologists interested in the history of their discipline and in new methodologies, to theologians and religious comparatists interested in the origins and nature of man's encounter with the sacred, and to art historians and aestheticians grappling with the place of prehistory in the canons of art.

Hardcover

$36.95 S ISBN: 9781890951559 216 pp. | 9 in x 6 in 15 illus.

Paperback

$22.95 T ISBN: 9781890951566 216 pp. | 9 in x 6 in 15 illus.

Editors

Stuart Kendall

Contributors

Michelle Kendall.

Reviews

  • For readers who have not comprehended the nuances of Georges Bataille's fascination with prehistoric art, and the role it plays in his conception of the erotic, this new collection of translations is a vital addition to one's library.

    Consciousness, Literature, and the Arts

  • it's terrific as a kind of poetics of prehistory

    Publisher's Weekly Online