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Roland Gérard Barthes (; ; 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980) was a French
literary theorist Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expande ...
,
essayist An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a Letter (message), letter, a term paper, paper, an article (publishing), article, a pamphlet, and a short ...
,
philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...

philosopher
,
critic A critic is a person who communicates an assessment and an opinion of various forms of creative works such as Art criticism, art, Literary criticism, literature, Music journalism, music, Film criticism, cinema, Theater criticism, theater, Fash ...
, and
semiotician Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes ( semiosis), which are any activity, conduct, or process that involves signs, where a sign is defined as anything that communicates a meaning that is not the sign itself to t ...

semiotician
. His work engaged in the analysis of a variety of
sign system A sign system is a key concept in semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis), which are any activity, conduct, or process that involves Sign (semiotics), signs, where a sign is defined as anything ...
s, mainly derived from Western popular culture. His ideas explored a diverse range of fields and influenced the development of many schools of theory, including
structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empirical method, emp ...
,
anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. studies how language influences social life. studi ...
, literary theory, and
post-structuralism Post-structuralism is a term for philosophical, theoretical and literary forms of theory that both build upon and reject ideas established by structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns o ...
. Barthes is perhaps best known for his 1957 essay collection ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'', which contained reflections on popular culture, and 1967 essay "
The Death of the Author "The Death of the Author" (French language, French: ''La mort de l'auteur'') is a 1967 essay by the French people, French literary critic and Literary theory, theorist Roland Barthes (1915–1980). Barthes's essay argues against traditional literar ...
," which critiqued traditional approaches in
literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical analysis, philosophical discussion of literature ...
. During his academic career he was primarily associated with the
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (french: École des hautes études en sciences sociales; also known as EHESS) is one of the most selective and prestigious graduate schools of social sciences in Paris, France. It is one of th ...
(EHESS) and the
Collège de France The Collège de France (), formerly known as the ''Collège Royal'' or as the ''Collège impérial'' founded in 1530 by François I, is a higher education and research establishment (''grand établissement'') in France. It is located in Paris, ...
.


Biography


Early life

Roland Barthes was born on 12 November in the town of
Cherbourg
Cherbourg
in
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
. His father, naval officer Louis Barthes, was killed in a battle during
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
in the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
before Barthes's first birthday. His mother, Henriette Barthes, and his aunt and grandmother raised him in the village of Urt and the city of
Bayonne Bayonne (; eu, Baiona ; oc, label= Gascon, Baiona ; es, Bayona) is a city and commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Pr ...

Bayonne
. When Barthes was eleven, his family moved to
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
, though his attachment to his provincial roots would remain strong throughout his life.


Student years

Barthes showed great promise as a student and spent the period from 1935 to 1939 at the
Sorbonne The Sorbonne ( , , ) is a building in the Latin Quarter The Latin Quarter of Paris (french: Quartier latin, ) is an area in the 5th and the 6th arrondissements of Paris The city of Paris is divided into twenty ''municipal arrondisseme ...
, where he earned a ''
licence A license (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English ...

licence
'' in classical literature. He was plagued by ill health throughout this period, suffering from
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the in ...

tuberculosis
, which often had to be treated in the isolation of
sanatoria Image:SanatoriumGrunwald Sokolowsko.jpg, One of the remaining turrets of the Grunwald Sanatorium (now Sokołowsko, Poland) A sanatorium (also spelled sanitarium or sanitorium) is a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated ...

sanatoria
. His repeated physical breakdowns disrupted his academic career, affecting his studies and his ability to take qualifying examinations. They also exempted him from
military service Military service is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia A militia () is generally an army or some other Military organization, fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a country, or subject ...
during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. His life from 1939 to 1948 was largely spent obtaining a ''licence'' in
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...
and
philology Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
, publishing his first papers, taking part in a medical study, and continuing to struggle with his health. He received a ''diplôme d'études supérieures'' (roughly equivalent to an MA by thesis) from the
University of Paris , image_name = Coat of arms of the University of Paris.svg , image_size = 150px , caption = , latin_name = Universitas magistrorum et scholarium Parisiensis , motto = ''Hic et ubique terrarum'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical ...
in 1941 for his work in
Greek tragedy Greek tragedy is a form of theatre from Ancient Greece and Anatolia. It reached its most significant form in Athens in the 5th century BC, the works of which are sometimes called Attic tragedy. Greek tragedy is widely believed to be an extension ...
.


Early academic career

In 1948, he returned to purely academic work, gaining numerous short-term positions at institutes in
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...

France
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions ...

Romania
, and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
. During this time, he contributed to the leftist Parisian paper ''Combat'', out of which grew his first full-length work, '' Writing Degree Zero'' (1953). In 1952, Barthes settled at the
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Pushing boundaries , formation = , type = Governmental organisation , purpose = Fundamental research , headquarters = Campus Gérard Mégie, 16th arrondissement of Paris , language = French , leader_title = President , leader_name = An ...
, where he studied
lexicology Lexicology is the branch of linguistics that analyzes the lexicon of a specific language. A word is the smallest meaningful unit of a language that can stand on its own, and is made up of small components called Morpheme, morphemes and even smalle ...
and
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
. During his seven-year period there, he began to write a popular series of bi-monthly essays for the magazine ''Les Lettres Nouvelles'', in which he dismantled myths of
popular culture Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
(gathered in the ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'' collection that was published in 1957). Consisting of fifty-four short essays, mostly written between 1954 and 1956, ''Mythologies'' were acute reflections of French popular culture ranging from an analysis on soap detergents to a dissection of popular wrestling. Knowing little English, Barthes taught at
Middlebury College Middlebury College is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two de ...
in 1957 and befriended the future English translator of much of his work,
Richard Howard Richard Joseph Howard (born October 13, 1929; adopted as Richard Joseph Orwitz) is an American poet, literary critic, essayist, teacher, and translator. He was born in Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a major cit ...
, that summer in New York City.Richard Howard. "Remembering Roland Barthes," ''
The Nation ''The Nation'' is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States, covering progressive Progressive may refer to: Politics * Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform Political organizations * C ...
'' (20 November 1982): "Mutual friends brought us together in 1957. He came to my door in the summer of that year, disconcerted by his classes at Middlebury (teaching students unaccustomed to a visitor with no English to speak of) and bearing, by way of introduction, a fresh-printed copy of ''Mythologies''. (''Michelet'' and ''Writing Degree Zero'' had already been published in France, but he was not yet known in America—not even in most French departments. Middlebury was enterprising.)" Reprinted in ''Signs in Culture: Roland Barthes Today'', edited by Steven Ungar and Betty R. McGraw, University of Iowa Press, 1989, p. 32 ().


Rise to prominence

Barthes spent the early 1960s exploring the fields of
semiology Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis), which are any activity, conduct, or process that involves Sign (semiotics), signs, where a sign is defined as anything that communicates a Meaning (semiotics), mean ...
and
structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empirical method, emp ...
, chairing various faculty positions around France, and continuing to produce more full-length studies. Many of his works challenged traditional academic views of
literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical analysis, philosophical discussion of literature ...
and of renowned figures of literature. His unorthodox thinking led to a conflict with a well-known Sorbonne professor of literature, Raymond Picard, who attacked the French
New CriticismNew Criticism was a formalist movement in literary theory that dominated American literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature Literature broadly is any collectio ...
(a label that he inaccurately applied to Barthes) for its obscurity and lack of respect towards France's literary roots. Barthes's rebuttal in ''Criticism and Truth'' (1966) accused the old,
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
criticism of a lack of concern with the finer points of language and of selective ignorance towards challenging theories, such as
Marxism Marxism is a method of socioeconomic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science that studies how economic activity affects and is shaped by social processes. In general it analyzes how modern society, societies soci ...
. By the late 1960s, Barthes had established a reputation for himself. He traveled to the
US
US
and
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
, delivering a presentation at
Johns Hopkins University The Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins, Hopkins, or JHU) is a private university, private research university in Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named for its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur ...

Johns Hopkins University
. During this time, he wrote his best-known work, the 1967 essay "
The Death of the Author "The Death of the Author" (French language, French: ''La mort de l'auteur'') is a 1967 essay by the French people, French literary critic and Literary theory, theorist Roland Barthes (1915–1980). Barthes's essay argues against traditional literar ...
," which, in light of the growing influence of
Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (; ; born Jackie Élie Derrida; See also . July 15, 1930 – October 9, 2004), born in Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers ...
's
deconstruction Deconstruction is an approach to understanding the relationship between Text (literary theory), text and Meaning (linguistics), meaning. It was originated by the philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), who defined the term variously throughou ...

deconstruction
, would prove to be a transitional piece in its investigation of the logical ends of structuralist thought.


Mature critical work

Barthes continued to contribute with
Philippe Sollers Philippe Sollers (; born Philippe Joyaux; 28 November 1936, Bordeaux Bordeaux ( , ; Gascon oc, Bordèu ) is a port city on the river Garonne in the Gironde Departments of France, department in Southwestern France. The municipality ( ...
to the
avant-garde The avant-garde (; In 'advance guard' or '', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are experimental, , or unorthodox with respect to , , or .John Picchione, The New Avant-garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Practices' (Tor ...
literary magazine ''
Tel Quel ''Tel Quel'' (translated into English language, English as, variously: "as is," "as such," or "unchanged") was a French avant-garde literary magazine published between 1960 and 1982. History and profile ''Tel Quel'' was founded in 1960 in Paris b ...
'', which was developing similar kinds of theoretical inquiry to that pursued in Barthes's writings. In 1970, Barthes produced what many consider to be his most prodigious work, the dense, critical reading of
Balzac
Balzac
's ''
Sarrasine ''Sarrasine'' is a novella written by Honoré de Balzac. It was published in 1830, and is part of his ''La Comédie Humaine, Comédie Humaine''. Introduction Balzac, who began writing in 1819 while living alone in the rue Lesdiguières, undertook ...
'' entitled '' S/Z''. Throughout the 1970s, Barthes continued to develop his literary criticism; he developed new ideals of
textuality In literary theory, textuality comprises all of the attributes that distinguish the communicative content under analysis as an object of study. It is associated with structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human soc ...
and novelistic neutrality. In 1971, he served as visiting professor at the
University of Geneva The University of Geneva (French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily ...

University of Geneva
. In those same years he became primarily associated with the
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (french: École des hautes études en sciences sociales; also known as EHESS) is one of the most selective and prestigious graduate schools of social sciences in Paris, France. It is one of th ...
(EHESS). In 1975 he wrote an autobiography titled ''Roland Barthes'' and in 1977 he was elected to the chair of Sémiologie Littéraire at the
Collège de France The Collège de France (), formerly known as the ''Collège Royal'' or as the ''Collège impérial'' founded in 1530 by François I, is a higher education and research establishment (''grand établissement'') in France. It is located in Paris, ...
. In the same year, his mother, Henriette Barthes, to whom he had been devoted, died, aged 85. They had lived together for 60 years. The loss of the woman who had raised and cared for him was a serious blow to Barthes. His last major work, ''
Camera Lucida A ''camera lucida'' is an optical device used as a drawing aid by artists and microscopy, microscopists. The ''camera lucida'' performs an optics, optical superimposition of the subject being viewed upon the surface upon which the artist is drawi ...
'', is partly an essay about the nature of
photography Photography is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and int ...

photography
and partly a meditation on photographs of his mother. The book contains many reproductions of photographs, though none of them are of Henriette.


Death

On 25 February 1980, Roland Barthes was knocked down by a laundry van while walking home through the streets of Paris. One month later, on 26 March, he died from the chest injuries he sustained in the accident.


Writings and ideas


Early thought

Barthes's earliest ideas reacted to the trend of
existentialist Existentialism ( ) is a form of philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Re ...
philosophy that was prominent in France during the 1940s, specifically to the figurehead of existentialism,
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French people, French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary criticism, literary critic. He was one of the key ...

Jean-Paul Sartre
. Sartre's ''
What Is Literature? ''What Is Literature?'' (french: Qu'est-ce que la littérature?), also published as ''Literature and Existentialism'',) is an essay by French philosopher and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre, published by Gallimard in 1948. Initially published in freestan ...
'' (1947) expresses a disenchantment both with established forms of writing and more experimental,
avant-garde The avant-garde (; In 'advance guard' or '', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are experimental, , or unorthodox with respect to , , or .John Picchione, The New Avant-garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Practices' (Tor ...
forms, which he feels alienate readers. Barthes's response was to try to discover that which may be considered unique and original in writing. In ''Writing Degree Zero'' (1953), Barthes argues that conventions inform both language and style, rendering neither purely creative. Instead, form, or what Barthes calls "writing" (the specific way an individual chooses to manipulate conventions of style for a desired effect), is the unique and creative act. However, a writer's form is vulnerable to becoming a convention once it has been made available to the public. This means that creativity is an ongoing process of continual change and reaction. In ''Michelet'', a critical analysis of the French historian
Jules Michelet Jules Michelet (; 21 August 1798 – 9 February 1874) was a French historian and an author on other topics whose major work was a history of France and its culture. His aphoristic style emphasized his anti-clerical Anti-clericalism is oppositio ...

Jules Michelet
, Barthes developed these notions, applying them to a broader range of fields. He argued that Michelet's views of history and society are obviously flawed. In studying his writings, he continued, one should not seek to learn from Michelet's claims; rather, one should maintain a critical distance and learn from his errors, since understanding how and why his thinking is flawed will show more about his period of history than his own observations. Similarly, Barthes felt that
avant-garde The avant-garde (; In 'advance guard' or '', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are experimental, , or unorthodox with respect to , , or .John Picchione, The New Avant-garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Practices' (Tor ...
writing should be praised for its maintenance of just such a distance between its audience and itself. In presenting an obvious artificiality rather than making claims to great subjective truths, Barthes argued, avant-garde writers ensure that their audiences maintain an objective perspective. In this sense, Barthes believed that art should be critical and should interrogate the world, rather than seek to explain it, as Michelet had done.


Semiotics and myth

Barthes's many monthly contributions, collected in his ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'' (1957), frequently interrogated specific cultural materials in order to expose how
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
society asserted its values through them. For example, Barthes cited the portrayal of wine in French society. Its description as a robust and healthy habit is a bourgeois ideal that is contradicted by certain realities (i.e., that wine can be unhealthy and inebriating). He found
semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis Semiosis (, ), or sign process, is any form of activity Activity may refer to: * Action (philosophy), in general * Human activity: human behavior, in sociology ...

semiotics
, the study of signs, useful in these interrogations. He developed a theory of signs to demonstrate this perceived deception. He suggested that the construction of myths results in two levels of signification: the "language-object", a first order linguistic system; and the "metalanguage", the second-order system transmitting the myth. The former pertains to the literal or explicit meaning of things while the latter is composed of the language used to speak about the first order. Barthes explained that these bourgeois cultural myths were "second-order signs," or "
connotation A connotation is a commonly understood cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which o ...
s." A picture of a full, dark bottle is a
signifier Signified and signifier ( French: ''signifié'' and ''signifiant'') is a concept, most commonly related to semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis), which are any activity, conduct, or process tha ...
that relates to a specific signified: a fermented, alcoholic beverage. However, the bourgeoisie relate it to a new signified: the idea of healthy, robust, relaxing experience. Motivations for such manipulations vary, from a desire to sell products to a simple desire to maintain the
status quo is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs (sociology), state of affairs, particularly with regard to social, political, religious or military issues. In the Sociology, sociological sense, the ''status quo'' refers to the current st ...
. These insights brought Barthes in line with similar Marxist theory. Barthes used the term "myth" while analyzing the popular, consumer culture of post-war France in order to reveal that "objects were organized into meaningful relationships via narratives that expressed collective cultural values." In ''The Fashion System'' Barthes showed how this adulteration of signs could easily be translated into words. In this work he explained how in the fashion world any word could be loaded with idealistic bourgeois emphasis. Thus, if popular fashion says that a 'blouse' is ideal for a certain situation or ensemble, this idea is immediately naturalized and accepted as truth, even though the actual sign could just as easily be interchangeable with 'skirt', 'vest' or any number of combinations. In the end Barthes's ''Mythologies'' became absorbed into bourgeois culture, as he found many third parties asking him to comment on a certain cultural phenomenon, being interested in his control over his readership. This turn of events caused him to question the overall utility of demystifying culture for the masses, thinking it might be a fruitless attempt, and drove him deeper in his search for individualistic meaning in art.


Structuralism and its limits

As Barthes's work with
structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empirical method, emp ...
began to flourish around the time of his debates with Picard, his investigation of structure focused on revealing the importance of language in writing, which he felt was overlooked by old criticism. Barthes's "Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative" is concerned with examining the correspondence between the structure of a sentence and that of a larger narrative, thus allowing narrative to be viewed along
linguistic Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

linguistic
lines. Barthes split this work into three hierarchical levels: 'functions', 'actions' and 'narrative'. 'Functions' are the elementary pieces of a work, such as a single descriptive word that can be used to identify a character. That character would be an 'action', and consequently one of the elements that make up the narrative. Barthes was able to use these distinctions to evaluate how certain key 'functions' work in forming characters. For example, key words like 'dark', 'mysterious' and 'odd', when integrated together, formulate a specific kind of character or 'action'. By breaking down the work into such fundamental distinctions Barthes was able to judge the degree of realism given functions have in forming their actions and consequently with what authenticity a narrative can be said to reflect on reality. Thus, his structuralist theorizing became another exercise in his ongoing attempts to dissect and expose the misleading mechanisms of
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
culture. While Barthes found structuralism to be a useful tool and believed that discourse of literature could be formalized, he did not believe it could become a strict scientific endeavour. In the late 1960s, radical movements were taking place in literary criticism. The
post-structuralist Post-structuralism is a term for philosophical, theoretical and literary forms of theory that both build upon and reject ideas established by structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns o ...
movement and the
deconstruction Deconstruction is an approach to understanding the relationship between Text (literary theory), text and Meaning (linguistics), meaning. It was originated by the philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), who defined the term variously throughou ...

deconstruction
ism of
Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (; ; born Jackie Élie Derrida; See also . July 15, 1930 – October 9, 2004), born in Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers ...
were testing the bounds of the structuralist theory that Barthes's work exemplified.
Derrida Derrida is a surname shared by notable people listed below. * Bernard Derrida (born 1952), French theoretical physicist * Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), French philosopher ** Derrida (film), ''Derrida'' (film), a 2002 American documentary film * Ma ...
identified the flaw of structuralism as its reliance on a transcendental signifier; a symbol of constant, universal meaning would be essential as an orienting point in such a closed off system. This is to say that without some regular standard of measurement, a system of criticism that references nothing outside of the actual work itself could never prove useful. But since there are no symbols of constant and universal significance, the entire premise of structuralism as a means of evaluating writing (or anything) is hollow.


Transition

Such thought led Barthes to consider the limitations not just of signs and symbols, but also of Western culture's dependency on beliefs of constancy and ultimate standards. He travelled to
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
in 1966 where he wrote ''Empire of Signs'' (published in 1970), a meditation on Japanese culture's contentment in the absence of a search for a transcendental signifier. He notes that in Japan there is no emphasis on a great focus point by which to judge all other standards, describing the centre of
Tokyo Tokyo (Japanese language, Japanese: , ''Tōkyō'' ), historically known in the west as Tokio and officially the Tokyo Metropolis (, ''Tōkyō-to''), is capital of Japan, the capital and most populous Prefectures of Japan, prefecture of Japan ...

Tokyo
, the Emperor's Palace, as not a great overbearing entity, but a silent and nondescript presence, avoided and unconsidered. As such, Barthes reflects on the ability of signs in Japan to exist for their own merit, retaining only the significance naturally imbued by their signifiers. Such a society contrasts greatly to the one he dissected in ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'', which was revealed to be always asserting a greater, more complex significance on top of the natural one. In the wake of this trip Barthes wrote what is largely considered to be his best-known work, the essay "
The Death of the Author "The Death of the Author" (French language, French: ''La mort de l'auteur'') is a 1967 essay by the French people, French literary critic and Literary theory, theorist Roland Barthes (1915–1980). Barthes's essay argues against traditional literar ...
" (1968). Barthes saw the notion of the author, or authorial authority, in the criticism of literary text as the forced projection of an ultimate meaning of the text. By imagining an ultimate intended meaning of a piece of literature one could infer an ultimate explanation for it. But Barthes points out that the great proliferation of meaning in language and the unknowable state of the author's mind makes any such ultimate realization impossible. As such, the whole notion of the 'knowable text' acts as little more than another delusion of Western
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
culture. Indeed, the idea of giving a book or poem an ultimate end coincides with the notion of making it consumable, something that can be used up and replaced in a capitalist market. "The Death of the Author" is considered to be a
post-structuralist Post-structuralism is a term for philosophical, theoretical and literary forms of theory that both build upon and reject ideas established by structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns o ...
work, since it moves past the conventions of trying to quantify literature, but others see it as more of a transitional phase for Barthes in his continuing effort to find significance in culture outside of the
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
norms . Indeed, the notion of the author being irrelevant was already a factor of structuralist thinking.


Textuality and ''S/Z''

Since Barthes contends that there can be no originating anchor of meaning in the possible intentions of the author, he considers what other sources of meaning or significance can be found in literature. He concludes that since meaning can't come from the author, it must be actively created by the reader through a process of textual analysis. In his '' S/Z'' (1970), Barthes applies this notion in an analysis of ''
Sarrasine ''Sarrasine'' is a novella written by Honoré de Balzac. It was published in 1830, and is part of his ''La Comédie Humaine, Comédie Humaine''. Introduction Balzac, who began writing in 1819 while living alone in the rue Lesdiguières, undertook ...
'', a Balzac novella. The result was a reading that established five major codes for determining various kinds of significance, with numerous lexias throughout the text – a "lexia" here being defined as a unit of the text chosen arbitrarily (to remain methodologically unbiased as possible) for further analysis. The codes led him to define the story as having a capacity for plurality of meaning, limited by its dependence upon strictly sequential elements (such as a definite timeline that has to be followed by the reader and thus restricts their freedom of analysis). From this project Barthes concludes that an ideal text is one that is reversible, or open to the greatest variety of independent interpretations and not restrictive in meaning. A text can be reversible by avoiding the restrictive devices that ''Sarrasine'' suffered from such as strict timelines and exact definitions of events. He describes this as the difference between the writerly text, in which the reader is active in a creative process, and a readerly text in which they are restricted to just reading. The project helped Barthes identify what it was he sought in literature: an openness for interpretation.


Neutral and novelistic writing

In the late 1970s, Barthes was increasingly concerned with the conflict of two types of language: that of popular culture, which he saw as limiting and pigeonholing in its titles and descriptions, and neutral, which he saw as open and noncommittal. He called these two conflicting modes the
Doxa Doxa (; from verb )Henry Liddell, Liddell, Henry George, and Robert Scott (philologist), Robert Scott. 1940.δοκέω" In ''A Greek–English Lexicon, A Greek-English Lexicon'', edited by Henry Stuart Jones, H. S. Jones and R. McKenzie. Oxford. ...

Doxa
(the official and unacknowledged systems of meaning by which we know culture) and the . While Barthes had sympathized with Marxist thought in the past (or at least parallel criticisms), he felt that, despite its anti-ideological stance, Marxist theory was just as guilty of using violent language with assertive meanings, as was
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
literature. In this way they were both Doxa and both culturally assimilating. As a reaction to this, he wrote '' The Pleasure of the Text'' (1975), a study that focused on a subject matter he felt was equally outside the realm of both conservative society and militant leftist thinking:
hedonism Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common that ''pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pain Pain is a distressing feeling often cau ...
. By writing about a subject that was rejected by both social extremes of thought, Barthes felt he could avoid the dangers of the limiting language of the Doxa. The theory he developed out of this focus claimed that, while reading for pleasure is a kind of social act, through which the reader exposes him/herself to the ideas of the writer, the final
cathartic In medicine, a cathartic is a substance that ''accelerates'' defecation frame, Anatomy of the anus and rectum Defecation is the final act of digestion, by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid, or liquid waste Waste (or wastes) are ...
climax of this pleasurable reading, which he termed the bliss in reading or
jouissance In French, ''jouissance'' means enjoyment, in terms both of rights and property, and of sexual orgasm Orgasm (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), ...
, is a point in which one becomes lost within the text. This loss of self within the text or immersion in the text, signifies a final impact of reading that is experienced outside the social realm and free from the influence of culturally associative language and is thus neutral with regard to social progress. Despite this newest theory of reading, Barthes remained concerned with the difficulty of achieving truly neutral writing, which required an avoidance of any labels that might carry an implied meaning or identity towards a given object. Even carefully crafted neutral writing could be taken in an assertive context through the incidental use of a word with a loaded social context. Barthes felt his past works, like ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'', had suffered from this. He became interested in finding the best method for creating neutral writing, and he decided to try to create a novelistic form of rhetoric that would not seek to impose its meaning on the reader. One product of this endeavor was '' A Lover's Discourse: Fragments'' in 1977, in which he presents the fictionalized reflections of a lover seeking to identify and be identified by an anonymous amorous other. The unrequited lover's search for signs by which to show and receive love makes evident illusory myths involved in such a pursuit. The lover's attempts to assert himself into a false, ideal reality is involved in a delusion that exposes the contradictory logic inherent in such a search. Yet at the same time the novelistic character is a sympathetic one, and is thus open not just to criticism but also understanding from the reader. The result is one that challenges the reader's views of social constructs of love, without trying to assert any definitive theory of meaning.


Mind and body

Barthes also attempted to reinterpret the mind-body dualism theory. Like
Friedrich Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, me ...

Friedrich Nietzsche
and Levinas, he also drew from Eastern philosophical traditions in his critique of European culture as "infected" by Western metaphysics. His body theory emphasized the formation of the self through bodily cultivation. The theory, which is also described as ethico-political entity, considers the idea of the body as one that functions as a "fashion word" that provides the illusion of a grounded discourse. This theory has influenced the work of other thinkers such as Jerome Bel.


Photography and Henriette Barthes

Throughout his career, Barthes had an interest in photography and its potential to communicate actual events. Many of his monthly myth articles in the 50s had attempted to show how a photographic image could represent implied meanings and thus be used by bourgeois culture to infer 'naturalistic truths'. But he still considered the photograph to have a unique potential for presenting a completely real representation of the world. When his mother, Henriette Barthes, died in 1977 he began writing ''
Camera Lucida A ''camera lucida'' is an optical device used as a drawing aid by artists and microscopy, microscopists. The ''camera lucida'' performs an optics, optical superimposition of the subject being viewed upon the surface upon which the artist is drawi ...
'' as an attempt to explain the unique significance a picture of her as a child carried for him. Reflecting on the relationship between the obvious symbolic meaning of a photograph (which he called the studium) and that which is purely personal and dependent on the individual, that which 'pierces the viewer' (which he called the punctum), Barthes was troubled by the fact that such distinctions collapse when personal significance is communicated to others and can have its symbolic logic rationalized. Barthes found the solution to this fine line of personal meaning in the form of his mother's picture. Barthes explained that a picture creates a falseness in the illusion of 'what is', where 'what was' would be a more accurate description. As had been made physical through Henriette Barthes's death, her childhood photograph is evidence of 'what has ceased to be'. Instead of making reality solid, it reminds us of the world's ever changing nature. Because of this there is something uniquely personal contained in the photograph of Barthes's mother that cannot be removed from his subjective state: the recurrent feeling of loss experienced whenever he looks at it. As one of his final works before his death, ''Camera Lucida'' was both an ongoing reflection on the complicated relations between subjectivity, meaning and cultural society as well as a touching dedication to his mother and description of the depth of his grief.


Posthumous publications

A posthumous collection of essays was published in 1987 by François Wahl, ''Incidents''. It contains fragments from his journals: his ''Soirées de Paris'' (a 1979 extract from his erotic diary of life in Paris); an earlier diary he kept which explicitly detailed his paying for sex with men and boys in Morocco; and ''Light of the Sud Ouest'' (his childhood memories of rural French life). In November 2007,
Yale University Press Yale University Press is a university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditional ...
published a new translation into English (by Richard Howard) of Barthes's little known work ''What is Sport''. This work bears a considerable resemblance to ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'' and was originally commissioned by the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (french: Société Radio-Canada), branded as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian federal Crown corporation that serves as the national public broadcaster Public broadcasting involves , and other electronic ...
as the text for a documentary film directed by Hubert Aquin. In February 2009,
Éditions du Seuil Éditions du Seuil (), also known as ''Le Seuil'', is a French publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the te ...
published ''Journal de deuil'' (Journal of Mourning), based on Barthes's files written from 26 November 1977 (the day following his mother's death) up to 15 September 1979, intimate notes on his terrible loss: He grieved his mother's death for the rest of his life: "Do not say mourning. It's too psychoanalytic. I'm not in mourning. I'm suffering." and "In the corner of my room where she had been bedridden, where she had died and where I now sleep, in the wall where her headboard had stood against I hung an icon—not out of faith. And I always put some flowers on a table. I do not wish to travel anymore so that I may stay here and prevent the flowers from withering away." In 2012 the book ''Travels in China'' was published. It consists of his notes from a three-week trip to China he undertook with a group from the literary journal
Tel Quel ''Tel Quel'' (translated into English language, English as, variously: "as is," "as such," or "unchanged") was a French avant-garde literary magazine published between 1960 and 1982. History and profile ''Tel Quel'' was founded in 1960 in Paris b ...
in 1974. The experience left him somewhat disappointed, as he found China "not at all exotic, not at all disorienting".


Influence

Roland Barthes's criticism contributed to the development of theoretical schools such as
structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empirical method, emp ...
,
semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis Semiosis (, ), or sign process, is any form of activity Activity may refer to: * Action (philosophy), in general * Human activity: human behavior, in sociology ...

semiotics
, and
post-structuralism Post-structuralism is a term for philosophical, theoretical and literary forms of theory that both build upon and reject ideas established by structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns o ...
. While his influence is mainly found in these theoretical fields with which his work brought him into contact, it is also felt in every field concerned with the representation of information and models of communication, including computers, photography, music, and literature. One consequence of Barthes's breadth of focus is that his legacy includes no following of thinkers dedicated to modeling themselves after him. The fact that Barthes's work was ever adapting and refuting notions of stability and constancy means there is no canon of thought within his theory to model one's thoughts upon, and thus no "Barthesism".


Key terms

''Readerly'' and ''writerly'' are terms Barthes employs both to delineate one type of literature from another and to implicitly interrogate ways of reading, like positive or negative habits the modern reader brings into one's experience with the text itself. These terms are most explicitly fleshed out in '' S/Z'', while the essay "From Work to Text", from '' Image—Music—Text'' (1977), provides an analogous parallel look at the active–passive and postmodern–modern ways of interacting with a text.


Readerly text

A text that makes no requirement of the reader to "write" or "produce" their own meanings. The reader may passively locate "ready-made" meaning. Barthes writes that these sorts of texts are "controlled by the principle of non-contradiction" (156), that is, they do not disturb the "common sense," or "Doxa," of the surrounding culture. The "readerly texts," moreover, "are products
hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men's beaver felt hats A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safet ...

hat
make up the enormous mass of our literature" (5). Within this category, there is a spectrum of "replete literature," which comprises "any classic (readerly) texts" that work "like a cupboard where meanings are shelved, stacked, safeguarded" (200).Barthes, Roland. S/Z: An Essay. Trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang, 1974.


Writerly text

A text that aspires to the proper goal of literature and criticism: "... to make the reader no longer a consumer but a producer of the text" (4). Writerly texts and ways of reading constitute, in short, an active rather than passive way of interacting with a culture and its texts. A culture and its texts, Barthes writes, should never be accepted in their given forms and traditions. As opposed to the "readerly texts" as "product," the "writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world is traversed, intersected, stopped, plasticized by some singular system (Ideology, Genus, Criticism) which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages" (5). Thus reading becomes for Barthes "not a parasitical act, the reactive complement of a writing", but rather a "form of work" (10).


The ''Author'' and the ''scriptor''

''Author'' and ''scriptor'' are terms Barthes uses to describe different ways of thinking about the creators of texts. "The author" is our traditional concept of the lone genius creating a work of literature or other piece of writing by the powers of his/her original imagination. For Barthes, such a figure is no longer viable. The insights offered by an array of modern thought, including the insights of
Surrealism Surrealism was a cultural movement A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines approach their work. This embodies all art forms, the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") ...

Surrealism
, have rendered the term obsolete. In place of the author, the modern world presents us with a figure Barthes calls the "scriptor," whose only power is to combine pre-existing texts in new ways. Barthes believes that all writing draws on previous texts, norms, and conventions, and that these are the things to which we must turn to understand a text. As a way of asserting the relative unimportance of the writer's biography compared to these textual and generic conventions, Barthes says that the scriptor has no past, but is born with the text. He also argues that, in the absence of the idea of an "author-God" to control the meaning of a work, interpretive horizons are opened up considerably for the active reader. As Barthes puts it, "the death of the author is the birth of the reader."


Criticism

In 1964, Barthes wrote "The Last Happy Writer" ("''Le dernier des écrivains heureux''" in ''Essais critiques''), the title of which refers to
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778), known by his ''nom de plume A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym A pseudonym () or alias () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) is a ...

Voltaire
. In the essay he commented on the problems of the modern thinker after discovering the relativism in thought and philosophy, discrediting previous philosophers who avoided this difficulty. Disagreeing roundly with Barthes's description of Voltaire, Daniel Gordon, the translator and editor of ''
Candide ( , ) is a French satire Satire is a genre of the visual arts, visual, literature, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently Nonfiction, non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcoming ...
'' (The Bedford Series in History and Culture), wrote that "never has one brilliant writer so thoroughly misunderstood another." The sinologist
Simon Leys Pierre Ryckmans (28 September 1935 – 11 August 2014), better known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an author and pri ...
, in a review of Barthes's diary of a trip to China during the
Cultural Revolution The Cultural Revolution, formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a sociopolitical movement Movement may refer to: Common uses * Movement (clockwork), the internal mechanism of a timepiece * Motion (physics), co ...
, disparages Barthes for his seeming indifference to the situation of the Chinese people, and says that Barthes "has contrived—amazingly—to bestow an entirely new dignity upon the age-old activity, so long unjustly disparaged, of saying nothing at great length."


In popular culture

Barthes's '' A Lover's Discourse: Fragments'' was the inspiration for the name of 1980s
new wave New Wave may refer to: Music * New wave music, a genre of popular music that originated in the 1970s Albums * ''New Wave'' (Against Me! album) or the title song, 2007 * ''New Wave'' (The Auteurs album), 1993 * New Wave (Dizzy Gillespie album ...
duo
The Lover Speaks The Lover Speaks were an English New wave music, new wave duet (music), duo consisting of David Freeman (musician), David Freeman (vocals) and Joseph Hughes (musician), Joseph Hughes (arranger, composer). They wrote and sang the original version ...
. Jeffrey Eugenides' ''The Marriage Plot'' draws out excerpts from Barthes's ''A Lover's Discourse: Fragments'' as a way to depict the unique intricacies of love that one of the main characters, Madeleine Hanna, experiences throughout the novel. In the film ''Birdman (film), Birdman'' (2014) by Alejandro González Iñárritu, a journalist quotes to the protagonist Riggan Thompson an extract from Mythologies (book), ''Mythologies'': "The cultural work done in the past by gods and epic sagas is now done by laundry-detergent commercials and comic-strip characters". In the film ''The Truth About Cats & Dogs'' (1996) by Michael Lehmann, Brian is reading an extract from ''
Camera Lucida A ''camera lucida'' is an optical device used as a drawing aid by artists and microscopy, microscopists. The ''camera lucida'' performs an optics, optical superimposition of the subject being viewed upon the surface upon which the artist is drawi ...
'' over the phone to a woman whom he thinks to be beautiful but who is her more intellectual and less physically desirable friend. In the film ''Elegy (film), Elegy'', based on Philip Roth's novel ''The Dying Animal'', the character of Consuela (played by Penélope Cruz) is first depicted in the film carrying a copy of Barthes's '' The Pleasure of the Text'' on the campus of the university where she is a student. Laurent Binet's novel ''The 7th Function of Language'' is based on the premise that Barthes was not merely accidentally hit by a van but that he was instead murdered, as part of a conspiracy to acquire a document known as the "Seventh Function of Language".


Bibliography


Works

* (1953) ''Writing Degree Zero, Le degré zéro de l'écriture'' * (1954) ''Michelet par lui-même'' * (1957) ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'', Seuil: Paris. * (1963) ''Sur Racine'', Editions du Seuil: Paris * (1964) ''Éléments de sémiologie'', Communications 4, Seuil: Paris. * (1970) ''L'Empire des signes'', Skira: Geneve. * (1970) '' S/Z'', Seuil: Paris. * (1971) ''Sade, Fourier, Loyola'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (1972) ''Le Degré zéro de l'écriture suivi de Nouveaux essais critiques'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (1973) ''Le plaisir du texte'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (1975) ''Roland Barthes'', Éditions du Seuil: Paris * (1977) ''Poétique du récit'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (1977) '' A Lover's Discourse: Fragments,'' Paris * (1978) ''Préface'', La Parole Intermédiaire, F. Flahault, Seuil: Paris * (1980) ''Recherche de Proust'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (1980) ''La chambre claire: note sur la photographie''. [Paris]: Cahiers du cinéma: Gallimard: Le Seuil, 1980. * (1981) ''Essais critiques'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (1982) ''Littérature et réalité'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (1988) ''Michelet'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (1993) ''Œuvres complètes'', Editions du Seuil: Paris. * (2009) ''Carnets du voyage en Chine,'' Christian Bourgeois: Paris. * (2009) ''Journal de deuil,'' Editions du Seuil/IMEC: Paris.


Translations to English

* ''The Fashion System'' (1967), University of California Press: Berkeley. * '' Writing Degree Zero'' (1968), Hill and Wang: New York. * ''Elements of Semiology'' (1968), Hill and Wang: New York. * ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'' (1972), Hill and Wang: New York. * '' The Pleasure of the Text'' (1975), Hill and Wang: New York. * ''S/Z, S/Z: An Essay'' (1975), Hill and Wang: New York. * ''Sade, Fourier, Loyola'' (1976), Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York. * ''Image—Music—Text'' (1977), Hill and Wang: New York. * ''Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes'' (1977) (In this so-called autobiography, Barthes interrogates himself as a text.) * ''The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies, The Eiffel Tower and other Mythologies'' (1979), University of California Press: Berkeley. * ''Camera Lucida (book), Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography'' (1981), Hill and Wang: New York. * ''Critical Essays'' (1972), Northwestern University Press * ''A Barthes Reader'' (1982), Hill and Wang: New York. * ''Empire of Signs'' (1983), Hill and Wang: New York. * ''The Grain of the Voice: Interviews 1962–1980'' (1985), Jonathan Cape: London. * ''The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation'' (1985), Basil Blackwell: Oxford. * ''The Rustle of Language'' (1986), B. Blackwell: Oxford. * ''Criticism and Truth'' (1987), The Athlone Pr.: London. * ''Michelet'' (1987), B.Blackwell: Oxford. * ''Writer Sollers'' (1987), University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis. * ''Roland Barthes'' (1988), Macmillan Pr.: London. * ''A Lover's Discourse: Fragments'' (1990), Penguin Books: London. * ''New Critical Essays'' (1990), University of California Press: Berkeley. * ''Incidents'' (1992), University of California Press: Berkeley. * ''On Racine'' (1992), University of California Press: Berkeley * ''The Semiotic Challenge'' (1994), University of California Press: Berkeley. * ''The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France (1977–1978)'' (2005), Columbia University Press: New York. * ''The Language of Fashion'' (2006), Power Publications: Sydney. * ''What Is Sport?'' (2007), Yale University Press: London and New Haven. * ''Mourning Diary'' (2010), Hill and Wang: New York. ''Mourning Diary''
ed. Nathalie Léger, trans.
Richard Howard Richard Joseph Howard (born October 13, 1929; adopted as Richard Joseph Orwitz) is an American poet, literary critic, essayist, teacher, and translator. He was born in Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a major cit ...
(Hill and Wang, 2010).
* ''The Preparation of the Novel: Lecture Courses and Seminars at the Collège de France (1978–1979 and 1979–1980)'' (2011), Columbia University Press: New York. * ''How to Live Together: Notes for a Lecture Course and Seminar at the Collège de France (1976–1977)'' (2013), Columbia University Press: New York.


Reviews

* Smith, Stan (1983), review of Double Exposure: Barthes on Photography'', in Hearn, Sheila G. (ed.), ''Cencrastus'' No. 11, New Year 1983, pp. 47 - 48,


References


Further reading

* Allen, Graham. ''Roland Barthes''. London: Routledge, 2003 *Réda Bensmaïa, ''The Barthes Effect: The Essay as Reflective Text'', trans. Pat Fedkiew, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. * Luca Cian, "A comparative analysis of print advertising applying the two main plastic semiotics schools: Barthes' and Greimas'", ''Semiotica'' 190: 57–79, 2012. *Louis-Jean Calvet, ''Roland Barthes: A Biography'', trans. Sarah Wykes, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. (This is a popular biography) *Jonathan Culler, ''Roland Barthes: A Very Short Introduction'', Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. *Paul de Man, "Roland Barthes and the Limits of Structuralism", in ''Romanticism and Contemporary Criticism'', ed. E.S. Burt, Kevin Newmark, and Andrzej Warminski, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. *
Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (; ; born Jackie Élie Derrida; See also . July 15, 1930 – October 9, 2004), born in Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers ...
, "The Deaths of Roland Barthes," in ''Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Vol. 1'', ed. Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth G. Rottenberg, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007. *D.A. Miller, ''Bringing Out Roland Barthes'', Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. (A highly personal collection of fragments, aimed at both mourning Barthes and illuminating his work in terms of a "gay writing position.") *Marie Gil, ''Roland Barthes: Au lieu de la vie'', Paris: Flammarion, 2012. (The first major academic biography [562 p.]) *Michael Moriarty, ''Roland Barthes'', Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991. (Explains various works of Roland Barthes) *Jean-Michel Rabate, ed., ''Writing the Image After Roland Barthes'', Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. *Jean-Louis de Rambures, Interview with Roland Barthes in: ''Comment travaillent les écrivains'', Paris: Flammarion, 1978 * Mireille Ribiere, ''Roland Barthes'', Ulverston: Humanities E-Books, 2008. *Susan Sontag, "Remembering Barthes", in ''Under the Sign of Saturn'', New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980. *Susan Sontag, "Writing Itself: On Roland Barthes", introduction to Roland Barthes, ''A Barthes Reader'', ed. Susan Sontag, New York: Hill and Wang, 1982. *Steven Ungar. ''Roland Barthes: Professor of Desire''. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983. *George R. Wasserman. ''Roland Barthes''. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981.


External links


"Toys"
Another excerpt from ''Mythologies''
Barthes, Roland. Incidents. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. Free Online – UC Press E-Books Collection




"Comment vivre ensemble" ("How to live together"), Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977 and "Le Neutre" ("The Neutral"), Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978.

The first half of the book, from Marxists.com





* Roland Barthes and Juri Lotman – special issue o
''Sign Systems Studies''
44(3), 2016. {{DEFAULTSORT:Barthes, Roland 1915 births 1980 deaths 20th-century essayists 20th-century French male writers 20th-century French non-fiction writers 20th-century French philosophers 20th-century linguists Collège de France faculty Communication scholars Continental philosophers Cultural critics Epistemologists French autobiographers French literary critics French literary theorists French male essayists French male non-fiction writers French semioticians French gay writers LGBT academics Linguists from France Lycée Voltaire (Paris) teachers Metaphysicians Mythographers Ontologists Pedestrian road incident deaths People from Manche Philosophers of culture Philosophers of literature Philosophers of sexuality Philosophy academics Philosophy writers Photography critics Poststructuralists Road incident deaths in France Social critics Social philosophers Structuralists University of Paris alumni LGBT philosophers