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4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  10,168 Ratings  ·  352 Reviews
"No denunciation without its proper instrument of close analysis," Roland Barthes wrote in his preface to Mythologies. There is no more proper instrument of analysis of our contemporary myths than this book—one of the most significant works in French theory, and one that has transformed the way readers and philosophers view the world around them.

Our age is a triumph of cod
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 1972 by Hill and Wang (first published 1957)
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Johnny Lucas Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:
Semiology as a formal field of study was nascent at the time Barthes was writing Mythologies. Aside from the final…more
Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:
Semiology as a formal field of study was nascent at the time Barthes was writing Mythologies. Aside from the final essay, 'Myth, Today', Barthes does not focus on Semiological theory per se, but instead uses it to analyse the language of cultural phenomena; ranging from Wrestling to Margarine to an exhibition in Paris called 'The Great Family of Man'. His aim in this is to demonstrate how bourgeois ideology creates a separate and distorted (he even claims "parasitic") field of discourse, which he terms "mythical". In the final essay, however, Barthes explains his reasoning, influences, and method so far. I found the last essay to be rather dense, and definitely recommend reading the preceding chapters in order to familiarise yourself with the terms and concepts he uses. Overall it's a cracking read though, and recommend it to anyone who feels that there are aspects of our cosy culture which imply, rather than outright state, an unpalatable reality. Hope this helps!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Riku Sayuj

On Arranging My Library

Arranging a library is no easy task:
I think Tolkien will be happy to share his space
With Virgil and Homer,
In my Library.
While I can feel the glare in my back
as I stack
Nabokov next to that one copy of
Dan Brown I own.

Arranging a library is no easy task:
To do so this seriously is almost to practice
In an amateurish and private fashion,
The art of literary criticism.
And once that notion entered my library,
My authors took to their relative positions
With none of that dismissiven
This was much more interesting than I expected it to be – and I could even go as far as to say some of it was quite fun. I mean fun in a relative sense, of course, as this is a text with quite some ‘resistance’ and so some of it was also quite hard to read.

Most of the text is a series of short essays that discuss what the author refers to as ‘myths’. Now, these aren’t really the kinds of things that you might automatically associate with the word ‘myth’. There is a longish (longish for a book t
Oct 21, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing
I am not a huge critical lit reader but there is something so enjoyable about Barthes' books or essays. I like the way he writes about an everyday object or subject matter - and just tears into it like a very curious scientist. "Mythologies" is one of his more well-known titles and rightfully so. Good writer and I think he's a great reader as well.
Nov 09, 2009 Ellen rated it really liked it
In high school, I used to attend the wrestling meets. I'm not sure why. I hated spectator sports, having endured a brief period of sullen cheerleading where I found myself unable to whip up a frenzy over first downs or sis-boom-bah on command.

Among the high school wrestlers I watched, there were some who elicited greater and lesser degrees of sympathy or repugnance, while one--though otherwise an inarticulate hulk--was transformed on the mat into a figure of grace, performing pins swiftly and cl
Roz Foster
Jun 07, 2008 Roz Foster rated it it was amazing
Mythologies (1957) was recommended to me as a must-read for brand builders. Who better (or more fun) to read when boning up on brand strategy and semiotics than Roland Barthes? Each of Barthes’s very brief and highly entertaining essays demonstrates his point of view and method as a mythologist--a sarcastic bastard with the insight to look a hole right through you.

According to Barthes, a mythologist is (not just an irreverent, cultural jester, but) an individual who recognizes a cultural myth, s
Jan 21, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barthes' most famous contribution to the semiotics school of structuralism, post-structuralism: though not his most-read according to GoodReads (an accolade reserved for Camera Lucida). While I love all of the Barthes that I have read, I think this should be required reading somewhere (the first part, anyway). Barthes is brilliant; his eyes seem always turned to the world as it is, and yet remain mindful of the world as it seems: that is the premise of Mythologies. Intentionally or unintentional ...more
Melissa Rudder
Mar 21, 2008 Melissa Rudder rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Steve, Tim, and anyone interested in theory and rhetoric
I only had to read half of Roland Barthes' Mythologies for my Critical Theory class, but I was so engrossed that I set aside George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones (you'll understand how impressive that is if I ever get to that review) and spent a day of my spring break reading the whole thing. In Mythologies, Barthes, a theorist I previously (and less amiably) met during my Media and Rhetoric class, does a semiotic reading of different aspects of society in order to identify the ideological belie ...more
Mar 12, 2010 J.I. added it
Shelves: read-2010
Oh enjoy the 3 page observations of myth in modern society. Relish how surprisingly difficult they can be to understand, but yet have something marvelous to ponder. Soon you will get to the second half, the essay "Myth Today," and it will hurt your brain reeeeeeal good. Barthes examines the power of myth, why it is so harmful, and how it works semiotically. The last 60 pages took me 5 hours to read but it was so insightful I sat struck when I had put the book down. This is not easy reading and i ...more
فهد الفهد

رولان بارت لا يقرأ إلا باللغة التي كتب بها، للحقيقة لم أستطع إكمال الكتاب، كانت هناك فجوات كبيرة لا يسهل ردمها، رغم موضوعات مقالاته الجذابة جداً.
Dec 10, 2009 Bryant rated it really liked it
My advice is to read this book backwards. Some of the short essays, including "Wine and Milk," "Steak and Chips," "The Blue Guide," and "The Lost Continent," are exemplary demonstrations of the ideas laid out in the long essay, "Myth Today," that concludes the book. There Barthes argues for a dense handful of concepts related to the signifier and the signified, noting especially the extent to which mythology tries to depict things properly categorized as "historical" in a manner that we might ca ...more
Nhu Khue
Sep 20, 2016 Nhu Khue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Không nên buồn một lúc. Cũng không nên vui một lúc. Sự một lúc giết chết mọi suy nghĩ cần có. Đi ra ngoài “một lúc” là một vùng rỗng, một nửa là ham muốn tiến lên, một nửa là khát khao quay lại để sửa sai, bao cái vùng rỗng ấy lại là nỗi thèm thuồng được yên vị.

Muốn sống chậm trước hết phải hiểu rất nhiều chuyện. Không phải cứ vô tư, cứ phớt lờ những điều quá quen hoặc quá phức tạp, cứ làm những điều đáng yêu, cứ bình thản, không nổi nóng là có thể chậm lại. Chuyện này khó quá thể, nhể!

Vậy nên N
Feb 28, 2013 flannery rated it liked it
I wonder sometimes what it must be like to have been born before the simulacrum became a matter of fact, instead of 1985. What was it like to read Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, or Guy Debord before Ronald Reagan became president, Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor and the world was recreated in a manmade archipelago off the coast of Dubai? I have no idea. Roland Barthes is a tremendous writer but this book feels too precious, too quaint; serious conversations about the petite bourgeoise just f ...more
Alicia Kachmar
Nov 23, 2011 Alicia Kachmar rated it liked it
Ouch, my brain hurts.
Mar 27, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing
a wonderful book...
although it didn't end up going where i thought it would...
barthes envisions the process of myth as a pernicious tool of the dominant power structure for the covert distortion of history...
his analysis centers on the notion that myth is used in the modern world to 'naturalize' concepts that the bourgeois power base wants the masses to believe 'go without saying' or are seemingly essential parts of human existence...
i'd never really thought of myth in this light...
barthes argum
Dhanaraj Rajan
May 15, 2013 Dhanaraj Rajan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theories, essays
A wonderful collection of essays in which Barthes as a mythologist searches behind and reveals the meanings hidden in the modern 'myths'(myth as a semiological concept). He takes the ordinary examples and then begins analyzing it. Only then you realize that the ordinary thing (eg: advertisement for the detergent powder) itself was a myth which when excavated reveals much. For example He does a psycho analytic study of the advertisement of detergent powders among many other things.
There are few
Brand new translation!

This edition is in two parts - the first being a series of some fifty or so short essays on certain events or things, and their symbolic/semiotic meanings. Everything from wrestling to Greta Garbo to margarine to a populist conservative who supported Vichy France and reminds me of the fringes of the Tea Party.

My favorites are the essays on Wrestling - it is a story, more so than a physical competition, and Toys - which directly shape a child's occupations and thoughts. Eve
Oct 03, 2016 Hans rated it liked it
Had high expectations for this book and it didn't deliver. I've read far more fascinating treatises on Mythologies and the modern applications from Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung and shoot even Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. While I did find some of the concepts in this book entertaining nothing really "wowed' me. In fact to show you how much it impressed me my favorite part was when the author talks about the "Mythology of French Professional Wrestling" (The French equivalent of American WWE) and how ...more
Joe S
Nov 21, 2007 Joe S rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
Tasty little treat, and essential as an intro to semiology, cultural theory and/or just plain critical thinking. Four stars as a teaching tool. As a read in its own right, though, it feels like one of those seminal texts that outdate themselves. You hit an especially belabored point and think, "Well, no shit. We all got there 30 years ago with...ah...Barthes. Oh."

But hot damn, does it make freshmen's heads explode. Pre-tween little brainses everywhere.
Nov 03, 2013 Alex marked it as to-read
This sounds interesting, but I have a very low tolerance for wankery. This better not wank.
Jan 09, 2010 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: theory
I loved one point made by Barthes, and one point only. So it got a three and not less, because it also had me raging.

I love the idea of myth as violence, the idea that it represents the stripping of a word or an image of all of its historical and political content, replacing it with an ideal. And in the world of today, it is almost always a political or marketing kind of ideal. Aesop, mythmaker extraordinaire, ensures through his stories that there is no longer a living, breathing, hungry lion,
Myth As Stolen Language—makes interesting move from description of myth strictly in linguistic terms to characterizing Contemporary Poetry as antimythical system, which is in turn, of course, appropriated as {Contemporary-Poetry-as-antimythical}-as-myth.

Pg. 244: "Myth can reach everything, corrupt everything, and even the very act of refusing oneself to it."

Math as a "finished language which derives its very perfection from this acceptance of death". Quantitative-as-death.
Tautology reaches the
Dec 02, 2010 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
The only Barthes I've read before is his "death of the author piece," which is sort of the token piece of theory which everyone who majored in english is familiar with. What makes this so interesting is how he weaves this incredibly fluid analysis informed by his ideas of myth and semiology. It kind of reminds me of Vico a bit, where you see a methodology arise out of examples instead of just being introduced in a rote, inorganic way. The way he takes apart these hopelessly everyday things and s ...more
Raya Al-Raddadi
Feb 01, 2014 Raya Al-Raddadi rated it liked it
يعدد بالقسم الأول بعضاً من أهم الأساطير المعاصرة وماتشير إليه مثل المصارعة كترفيه للطبقات الكادحة والغير مثقفة بعكس الأوبرا،، وأمثلة أخرى
ثم يقوم بالجزء الثاني (والذي أظنه الأهم ) بتحليلها مستعيناً بعلم الرموز ونظرية سوسير في النظر إلى تلك الأساطير كرمز يتكون من دال ومدلول ودلالة وما إلى ذلك ويركز كثير على دور الايدولوجيا في إنشاء تلك الأساطير جعلها تظهر بمظهر عفوي بعد أن تشوه طبيعتها التاريخية والسياسية .. كتاب يستحق القراءة ويجعلك تبدأ النظر لهذا العالم وتحليل كل مايبدو طبيعياً وبديهياً من زاو
Jul 23, 2011 Yann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
C'est sans doute l'un des pires livres de ma bibliothèque. Pédant, creux, fatueux, vide et ennuyeux: il ne s'agit que de lire des fadaises à propos de sottises. Rien ne vient rétribuer l'impatience du pauvre lecteur qui s'inflige chaque page comme une punition chaque fois plus cuisante. On ne devrait pas autant abuser de la longanimité du lecteur plein de bonne volonté. Pour moi, Barthes, c'est terminé.
Will give a more thorough review after my second read-through, but this was surprisingly smooth sailing for the majority of the essays. It's Myth Today that kicks you in the tuchus, and understandably so.
Best essay on the Tour de France, or best essay on the Tour de France?
John Spillane
Aug 08, 2012 John Spillane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooked
Wow, what a whole bunch of nothing. I could elaborate, but won't. How this got a new edition is beyond me.
Apr 27, 2015 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smart Barthes ~ I appreciate the intellectual vigor in most of the 53 essays. Some, more than others.

His long, intricate study ("no denunciation without its proper instrument of close analysis") helps parcel out what we're reading from the motivation of its having been written.

What remains, besides the capital enemy (the bourgeois Norm) is the necessary conjunction of these two gesture: no denunciation without its proper instrument of close analysis, no semiology which cannot ultimately be ackno
Procyon Lotor
Libert� Dopo oltre mezzo secolo, qualsiasi cosa che contenga la parola "oggi" dovrebbe essere decrepita. Invece l'agile Barthes (una testa come Tarzan era nelle jungle) nel lodevolissimo intento illuminista di aumentare la libert� des citoyens, ben sapendo che non solo non nasciamo imparati ma che molta dell'acqua in cui ci troviamo a nuotare � pesantemente inquinata, cerca di assemblare una serie di acuminati e affilati strumenti critici per esaminare il corpus consegnatoci sia come tradizione ...more
Dec 18, 2015 Arda rated it really liked it
Notes from final:

Barthes delves into the intellectual enquiry about linguistic assumptions of how meanings are formed, and of the power inherent in the production of knowledge. The critical cultural analysis brings into light the power discourse, which is often not easily detectable, as Barthes looks into the manipulation of signifiers while considering some of the motivations behind them.

Barthes carefully examines the distortion and manipulation that can happen, and does in fact happen, when
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The cultural view 2 23 Feb 21, 2013 10:43AM  
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  • Illuminations: Essays and Reflections
  • The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language
  • Literary Theory: An Introduction
  • Simulacra and Simulation
  • Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
  • The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays
  • Writing and Difference
  • Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature
  • Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art
  • For a New Novel: Essays on Fiction
  • Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays
  • Fiction and the Figures of Life
  • Écrits
  • Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
  • Subculture: The Meaning of Style
  • Against Interpretation and Other Essays
  • Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments
  • The Society of the Spectacle
Roland Gérard Barthes was a French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic, and semiotician. Barthes' ideas explored a diverse range of fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, social theory, design theory, anthropology and post-structuralism.
More about Roland Barthes...

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“We know that the war against intelligence is always waged in the name of common sense.” 33 likes
“What I claim is to live to the full the contradiction of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth.” 18 likes
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