He was obviously guided by a certain anguish even led astray by it-while he was writing a book or burning with a dark passion. In a passage of his Journal (which I have been unable to read, it is not accessible, but on this point I have obtained from others adequate details) he says that in the course of his labours it would happen that inspiration failed him: he then would go downstairs and out of his house, and enter a public urinal whose odour was suffocating. He breathed deeply, and having thus “approached as close as he could to the object of his horror,” he returned to his work. I cannot help recalling the author’s countenance, noble, emaciated, the nostrils quivering.
Georges Bataille on Jules Michelet (1946)
Preface to la sorcière