This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.

Pierre Klossowski

Pierre Klossowski (/kləˈsɒfski/; French: [klɔˈsɔfski]; August 9, 1905, Paris – August 12, 2001, Paris) was a French writer, translator and artist. He was the eldest son of the artists Erich Klossowski and Baladine Klossowska, and his younger brother was the painter Balthus.


Born in Paris, Pierre Klossowski was the older brother of the artist Balthazar Klossowski, better known as Balthus. Their parents were the art historian Erich Klossowski and the painter Baladine Klossowska. His German-educated father came from a family supposedly belonging to the former Polish petty nobility (drobna szlachta) and bearing the Rola coat of arms. His mother, Baladine Klossowska, was born as Elisabeth Dorothea Spiro in Breslau, Prussia (now Wrocław, Poland).

He was responsible for a new publication of The 120 Days of Sodom & Other Writings by Marquis de Sade in 1964.

When he was 18, Pierre was André Gide's secretary and worked on the drafts of Les faux-monnayeurs for him.


Pierre Klossowski wrote full length volumes on the Marquis de Sade and Friedrich Nietzsche, a number of essays on literary and philosophical figures, and five novels. Roberte Ce Soir (Roberte in the Evening) provoked controversy due to its graphic depiction of sexuality.[1] He translated several important texts (by Virgil, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Friedrich Hölderlin, Franz Kafka, Nietzsche, and Walter Benjamin) into French, worked on films and was also an artist, illustrating many of the scenes from his novels. Klossowski participated in most issues of George Bataille's review, Acéphale, in the late 1930s.

His 1969 book, Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, greatly influenced French philosophers such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-François Lyotard.[2]


Klossowski also appeared in Robert Bresson's Au hasard Balthazar as the avaricious miller who desires Marie, a character played by Anne Wiazemsky.

He was involved in:

His text on de Sade is mentioned in the bibliography at the beginning of Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, and quoted several times through the film.


From 20 September to 19 October 2006 there was a display of Klossowski's drawings and life size sculptures made after them with sculptor Jean-Paul Réti along with the art of Hans Bellmer at the Whitechapel Art Gallery also presented at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris with a film retrospective.


Year Original French English Translation
1947 Sade mon prochain preceded by Le philosophe scélérat (Paris: Seuil, 1947)

Contents: Avertissement; Le philosophe scélérat. Sade mon prochain: Sade et la Révolution; Esquisse du système de Sade; Sous le masque de l'athéisme; Appendices.

Sade My Neighbor trans. by Alphonso Lingis (Northwestern University Press, 1991)

Contents: Translator's Introduction; Preface; The Philosopher Villain; Sade My Neighbor: Sade and the revolution; Outline of Sade's system; Under the Mask of Atheism.

1950 La Vocation suspendue (Paris: Gallimard, 1950) -
1954 Roberte ce soir (Paris: Minuit, 1954) Roberte ce soir and The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes trans. by Austryn Wainhouse (Dalkey Archive Press, 2002)
1956 Le Bain de Diane (Paris: Pauvert, 1956; Gallimard, 1980) Diana at Her Bath/the Women of Rome trans. by Sophie Hawkes and Stephen Sartarelli (Marsilio Publishers, 1998) ISBN 1-56886-055-2
1959 La Révocation de l'édit de Nantes (Paris: Minuit, 1959) Roberte ce soir and The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes trans. by Austryn Wainhouse (Dalkey Archive Press, 2002)
1960 Le Souffleur ou le théâtre de société (Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1960) -
1963 Un si funeste désir (Paris: Gallimard, 1963)

Contents: Sur quelques thèmes fondamentaux de la Gaya Scienza de Nietzsche; Gide, du Bos et le démon; En marge de la correspondance de Claudel et de Gide; Préface à Un prêtre marié de Barbey d'Aurevilly; La messe de Georges Bataille; Le language, le silence et le communisme; Sur Maurice Blanchot; Nietzsche, le polythéisme et la parodie.

Such a Deathly Desire trans. by Russell Ford (State University of New York Press, 2007)
1965 Le Baphomet (Paris: Mercure de France, 1965) The Baphomet trans. by Sophie Hawkes and Stephen Sartarelli (Marsilio Pub, 1992) ISBN 0-941419-73-8
1965 Les Lois de l'hospitalité (Paris: Gallimard, 1965) (trilogy of the 'Roberte' novels: La Révocation de l'Édit de Nantes (1959), Roberte ce soir (1954), and Le Souffleur (1960)) Roberte ce Soir and The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes trans. by Austryn Wainhouse with introduction by Micheal Perkins (Dalkey Archive Press, 2002)
1968 Origines Culturelles et mythiques d'un certain comportement des dames romaines (Paris: Fata Morgana, 1968) Diana at Her Bath/the Women of Rome trans. by Sophie Hawkes and Stephen Sartarelli (Marsilio Publishers, 1998) ISBN 1-56886-055-2 -
1969 Nietzsche et le cercle vicieux (Paris: Mercure de France, 1969)

Contents: Introduction; Le combat contre la culture; Les états valétudinaires à l'origine d'une sémiotique pulsionnelle; L'expérience de l'Éternel Retour; Les états valétudinaires à l'origine des quatre critères : décadence, essor, grégarité, cas singulier; Tentative d'une explication scientifique de l'Éternel Retour; Le cercle vicieux en tant que doctrine sélective; La consultation de l'obre paternelle; La plus belle invention du malade; L'euphorie de Turin; Note additionnelle à la sémiotique de Nietzsche.

Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (London: The Athlone Press, 1997, 2000 ISBN 0-485-12133-6; University of Chicago Press, 1998, ISBN 0-226-44387-6;)

Contents: Translator's Preface; Introduction; 1. The Combat against Culture; 2. The Valetudinary States at the Origin of a Semiotic of Impulses; 3. The Experience of the Eternal Return; 4. The Valetudinary States at the Origin of Four Criteria: Decadence, Vigour, Gregariousness, the Singular Case; 5. Attempt at a Scientific Explanation of the Eternal Return; 6. The Vicious Circle as a Selective Doctrine; 7. The Consultation of the Paternal Shadow; 8. The Most Beautiful Invention of the Sick; 9. The Euphoria of Turin; 10. Additional Note on Nietzsche's Semiotic; Notes; Index.

1970 La Monnaie vivante (Paris: Éric Losfield, 1970) -
1984 La Ressemblance (Marseille: André Dimanche, 1984) -
1987 Les derniers travaux de Gulliver (Paris: Fata Morgana, 1987) -
1988 Le Mage du Nord (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1988) -
Posthumous publications
2001 Écrits d'un monomane: Essais 1933-1939 (Paris: Gallimard, 2001) -
2001 Tableaux vivants: Essais critiques 1936-1983 (Paris: Gallimard, 2001).

Contents: 1. Essais d'Acéphale: Don Juan selon Kierkegaard; Création du monde; Deux interprétations récentes de Nietzsche; Le monstre. 2. Trois amitiés: Rainer Maria Rilke et les Élégies de Duino; Pierre Jean Jouvre romancier : Catherine Crachat; Lettre sur Walter Benjamin. 3. Les règles de l'art: De Contre-Attaque à Acéphale; Explication continuée; Fragments d'une lettre à Michel Butor. 4. Du tableau vivant, en particulier: Du tableau vivant dans la peinture de Balthus; La 'Judith de Frédéric Tonnerre; On peut toujours dire que le trait...; L'on me demandait naguère pourquoi...; La description, l'argumentation, le récit...; Le geste muet du passage matériel au dessin; Du Simulacre.

2001 L'adolescent immortel (Paris: Gallimard, 2001) The Immortal Adolescent trans by Catherine Petit & Paul Buck (London: Vauxhall&Company, 2014)
2003 La Monnaie vivante (Paris: Gallimard, 2003) Living Currency trans by Daniel W. Smith, Vernon W. Cisney, and Nicolae Morar (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)


  • Friedrich Sieburg, Défense du nationalisme allemand, Grasset (1933)
  • Friedrich Sieburg, Robespierre, E. Flammarion (1936)
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus logico-philosophicus suivi de Investigations philosophiques (1961)
  • Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche (1971)
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Le Gai Savoir
  • Walter Benjamin, L'œuvre d'art à l'époque de sa reproduction mécanisée [in consultation with the author for the first publication of the essay in 1936]
  • J. G. Hamann, Les Méditations Bibliques, Minuit (1948). Critical edition, Éditions Ionas, 2016, read online.

See also


  1. ^ Alex Hughes, "Erotic Writing" in Hughes and Keith Reader, Encyclopedia of contemporary French culture, (pp. 187-88). London, Routledge, 1998, ISBN 0-415-13186-3
  2. ^ Smith, Daniel W.; Klossowski, Pierre (1997). Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. vii–viii. ISBN 0-226-44387-6.

Further reading

  • Arnaud, A., Pierre Klossowski (Paris: Seuil, 1990) ISBN 978-2-02-011495-0 In French.
  • Decottignies, J., Klossowski notre prochain (Paris: H. Veyrier, 1985) ISBN 978-2-85199-377-9 In French.
  • Decottignies, J., Pierre Klossowski. Biographie d’un monomane (Villeneuve d'Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 1997) ISBN 978-2-85939-523-0 In French.
  • Faulkner, J., “The Vision, the Riddle, and the Vicious Circle: Pierre Klossowski Reading Nietzsche’s Sick Body through Sade’s Perversion.” Textual Practice. 21[1] (March 2007): 43–69.
  • Hill, Leslie, Bataille, Klossowski, Blanchot: Writing at the Limit (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)
  • James, Ian, Pierre Klossowski: The Persistence of a Name (Oxford: Legenda, 2000)
  • James, Ian and Ford, Russell (guest editors), Diacritics, Special Issue: Whispers of the Flesh Essays in Memory of Pierre Klossowski, 35[1] (Spring 2005).
  • Lugan-Dardigna, A.-M., Klossowski. L’homme aux simulacres (Paris: Navarin, 1986) ISBN 2-86827-044-1 In French.
  • Madou, J.-P., Démons et simulacres dans l’œuvre de Pierre Klossowski (Paris: Méridiens Klincksiek, 1987) ISBN 978-2-86563-182-7 In French.
  • Marroni, A., Klossowski e la comunicazione artistica (Palermo: Centro Internazionale Studi di Estetica, 39, 1993)
  • Marroni, A., Pierre Klossowski. Sessualità, vizio e complotto nella filosofia (Milan: Costa & Nolan, 1999) ISBN 978-88-7648-383-7
  • Bennett, Jill, "Kama and Eroticism", Body. The Art Gallery of New South Wales (1997).ISBN 0-9587206-0-6
  • Marroni, A. Laws of perversion and hospitality in Pierre Klossowski, "Journal of European Psychoanalysis", 25, 2007;
  • Marroni, A. L'arte dei simulacri. Il dèmone estetico di Pierre Klossowski, Costa & Nolan, Milan 2009, ISBN 978-88-7437-124-2;
  • Spira, Anthony, & Sarah Wilson, Pierre Klossowski (Ostfilden: Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2006) ISBN 3-7757-1792-7. Exhibition Catalogue. Whitechapel Gallery London 20 September - 19 November 2006, Ludwig Museum Cologne 21 December 2006 - 18 March 2007, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris 2 April - 4 June 2007.
  • Tremblay, Thierry, Anamnèses. Essai sur l'œuvre de Pierre Klossowski (Paris: Hermann, 2012). ISBN 978-2-7056-8277-4 In French.
  • Ubilluz, Juan Carlos, Sacred Eroticism: Georges Bataille and Pierre Klossowski in the Latin American Erotic Novel (Bucknell University Press, 2006) ISBN 0-8387-5625-5

External links