Tag Archives: Roland Barthes

The Death of the Author (Roland Barthes)

“In his story Sarrasine Balzac, describing a castrate disguised as a woman, writes the following sentence: “This was woman herself, with her sudden fears, her irrational whims, her instinctive worries, her impetuous boldness, her fussings, and her delicious sensibility.” Who is speaking thus? Is it the hero of the story bent on remaining ignorant of the castrato hidden beneath the woman? Is it Balzac the individual, furnished by his personal experience with a philosophy of Woman? Is it Balzac the author professing “literary” ideas on femininity? Is it universal wisdom? Romantic psychology? We shall never know, for the good reason that writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away; the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing.” (excerpt)

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Mythologies (Roland Barthes)

mythbarthes“This book has a double theoretical framework: on the one hand, an ideological critique bearing on the language of so-called mass culture; on the other, a first attempt to analyse semiologically the mechanics of this language. I had just read Saussure and as a result acquired the conviction that by treating ‘collective representations’ as sign-systems, one might hope to go further than the pious show of unmasking them and account in detail for the mystification which transforms petit-bourgeois culture into a universal nature.” (Preface)

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The Fashion System (Roland Barthes)

fashionsystem-cvrIn his consideration of the language of the fashion magazine—the structural analysis of descriptions of women’s clothing by writers about fashion—Barthes gives us a brief history of semiology. At the same time, he identifies economics as the underlying reason for the luxuriant prose of the fashion magazine: “Calculating, industrial society is obliged to form consumers who don’t calculate; if clothing’s producers and consumers had the same consciousness, clothing would be bought (and produced) only at the very slow rate of its dilapidation.” (taken from this site)

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