The Death of the Author

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Published on March 19, 2014

Author: bobcharley

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The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes

Roland Barthes “The Death of the Author” November 12, 1915 – March 26, 1980

The Author  Author – Human person  The image of literature is centered on the author's personal life rather than the text or work itself (Barthes disagreed) "Baudelair's work is the failure of Baudelaire the man."

 For Mallarme from France, “it is language which speaks, not the author”  By accepting the principle and the experience of a collective writing, surrealism helped secularize the image of the Author.  The author is the same as the letter “I”, a subject.

The Author and Writing  The relationship between the author and the book can be divided into a before and an after. “the Author is supposed to feed the book - that is, he pre-exists it, thinks, suffers, lives for it”  The modern writer (scriptor) is born simultaneously with his text.  Thus, every text is eternally written “here and now”.

The Text and an Author  The text is a tissue of citations (quotations), resulting from the thousand sources of culture.  The writer can only imitate what is anterior, never original. “His only power is to combine the different kinds of writing, to oppose some by others, so as never to sustain himself by just one of them”

Multiple Writing  No author beneath the text “Once the Author is discovered, the text is explained”  In a multiple writing, everything is liberated, but nothing is deciphered for there is no underlying ground.  Multiple writing has an ultimate meaning: it liberates counter-theological activity, an activity that is “properly revolutionary” since “to refuse to arrest meaning is”, in the end, “to refuse God and his hypostases, reason, science, law."

The Death of the Author  The unity of a text is not in its origin (Author), it is in its destination (listener or reader)  It is the listener or the reader who understands each written words.

“The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”

Sources  The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes  http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/Literary_Criticism/d econstruction/Barthes_author_2.htm

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