This article critically surveys Georges Bataille’s multiple engagements with G. W. F. Hegel from the early 1930s to the 1950s. It homes in on how Bataille’s conceptual, experiential, and parodic demarcation from Hegel targets not the German philosopher’s aspiration to totality but (via Bataille’s dialogue with Alexandre Kojève) his action-centered framing of the movement of history and the character of actuality. Against the dialectical mastery of history, Bataille seeks to articulate an unpolitical image of sovereignty and play that is ultimately poetic or literary in kind.

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