Jeremy Allan's Reviews > Journal de deuil : 26 octobre 1977–15 septembre 1979

Journal de deuil  by Roland Barthes
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's review
Jul 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: french, philosophy-etc
Read in July, 2012

I began reading this journal on the eve of a difficult break-up and was amazed at how appropriate Barthes' expressions and ruminations on grief were to me at the time. Finishing the collection months later, it is hard not to see the writings as slightly histrionic and over-wrought. To read this when happy is almost to find it unrelatable; to read it while in grief, well that is to find many degrees of resonance.

I think this journal is of value, though, even for the reader who is happily exempt from this kind of suffering. Barthes does more than catalogue his anguish for the loss of his mother--he both intones his grief and dissects how it operates, particularly in language. At times it grows repetitive, even redundant, but then this is a characterization of grief: "I miss her, I miss her..." In fact, even a reader deep in mourning should gain from reading these notes, for even as they resonate, they introduce a degree of distance that usurps the very worse of the grieving process.

And, if nothing else, it shows quite a different side to a man whose writings rarely offer enough softness to take the edge off his image as a sharp critic.
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