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The Death of the Author

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,623 ratings  ·  118 reviews
"The Death of the Author" is a 1967 essay by the French literary critic and theorist Roland Barthes. Barthes's essay argues against traditional literary criticism's practice of incorporating the intentions and biographical context of an author in an interpretation of a text, and instead argues that writing and creator are unrelated. ...more
Published (first published 1967)
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Manuel Antão
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1984
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The Granular Success Egg: " The Death of the Author" by Roland Barthes

(Original Review, 1984-05-30)

Another piece of advice if you want to succeed in writing a novel:

1) Be youngish and photogenic;
2) Lure an agent with your headshot - or be well-known already;
3) Get a PR who is at least as good as your agent;
4) Include some mildly kinky sex scenes in your book and market it as being aimed at middle-aged women;
5) Live on Facebook with a t
Steven Godin
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
In my reading past the novel was king, and I would have never in a million years thought about reading poetry, until I did, and fell in love with it. Well, the same sort of thing is happening with essays. I had absolutely no interest in reading essays, thinking they would generally be boring and soporific. Then a few tricked through my palms, Hitchens, Sontag, to name two, and then Barthes. I was really starting to take notice. Some, not all, were at least interesting. But with Barthes I felt th ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
The more i understood the essay, the more i gained respect for it. I am happily convinced that to understand life is to understand language. This fact has probably been staring me since childhood. That time when I had a sinking feeling when the teacher went “What the poet wants to show is....” when in my heart I had very different picture the words of the poem created. The essay has not only overthrown the hegemony of the institution of the author but has for me given a new birth to the very par ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I can't remember the last time I've been this angry at a Literary theory before. Barthes is essentially saying that the translation of thought into language removes the specific voice of the author. Which to me, sounds like he is completely disregarding author's intent. Because, well... he is.

He is saying that regardless of what the author meant to write, there are cultural influences and "the author", his person, his life, his passions--" are what creates the text. To this, I agree to
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
'The text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture.'

Instills you with immense faith in your own ability to be original, doesn't it?

Agonisingly androcentric and rather condescending, The Death of the Author for me undermines the pleasure of English Literature as a discipline. Of course you can't aim to arrive at a holistic meaning of a text - it's hubristic to think you can. Authorship is indeed partially an artifice, but to dismiss the author entirely as a tool to
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is quite provocative; I have contradictory thoughts about this essay.

Let's put them into words!

Basically, Roland Barthes argues that the meaning of a literary work is not created by the author rather by the destination (reader). For him, the author is the one who re-combines pre-existing things he was previously aware of from different cultures and did not come up with some thing new. He also argues that the author only exists at the time of writing; after that, he is dead. The author, he a
Tasniem Sami
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.
دي مش عايزة تتقرى كذا مرة دي عايزة تتحفظ !
Garden Utensil
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Man!!! laughing at my FOOLISH freshman self
I first read this for a really awful Greek Cinema course my first semester of college and was clearly not ready... I remember getting mad because I thought Barthes was suggesting authors are irrelevant and the only thing that matters is what the critics and academics say..... which is not even close to being the thesis lol
and then I think it was assigned in a few other classes and I just never read it because I held a stupid stupid grudge & I thought he
Hannah Blair
Feb 06, 2021 rated it liked it
fair enough
Michael A.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I pretty much accepted most of his arguments without ever really reading this text before, but it didn't go to this depth. I have thought for a little bit there is ultimate meaning to a text but a multiplicity, as Barthes asserts: "Refusing to assign a 'secret,' ultimate meaning" to text "liberates what may be called an anti-theological activity, an activity that is truly revolutionary since to refuse meaning is, in the end, to refuse God and his hypostases—reason, science, law." I agree with th ...more
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
An inevitable conclusion made by Barthes. With the beginnings of Burke, to the progression in Philosophy of inaesthetics, and their abandonment of universal ideals, replacing it with the idea that a persons' experience of it [a piece of art] decides what an art piece is.

Still, I enjoyed it. I liked the focus on how language is for the reader to decide. The author merely scribes what is to be written. We, the readers, decide what the words mean. I could not help to think of Wittgenstein.

my only
Georgi Vyatrov
Dec 31, 2020 rated it liked it
It's a great idea and a great way of trying to read texts. It can really be freeing. It also maybe leads to a better understanding of cultural texts in the world and of their function.

But I doubt that it is really possible or always helpful in this real world. How can you separate a work from the (personal) brand when it was clearly produced and distributed with an intended and seemingly immanent connection to an author? Isn't the parasocial relationship to a youtuber a big reason (not the only
Dec 07, 2020 added it
I’m not rating this because i read it for school and honestly i hope to never think about it after this semester, but i’m counting it in my goodreads yearly count because i’ve spent so much time on it that i could have spend reading actual books, so.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned

Not as bad as I thought it was actually.
Mohammed Yusuf
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it
and the novel ends (one sided ) when the writing become possible ( exist )
Tuhin Bhowal
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author." ...more
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
finally ... i read the full thing. barthes’ essay is definitely thought provoking and overall i agree with the points he makes but i will surely reread it soon um ... thoughts are being thunk at 11 pm
Joy C.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
I try to interpret my literary theory readings with an eye for understanding the meaning and ideas presented honestly, without injecting my personal assumptions in that "reading", though I try not to remove my worldview completely from testing that perspective. Speaking of that, I have read some really interesting (though maybe at times pretentious) literary critics over the course of the last few weeks in my Literary Theory course (Thinking about Literature): Bourdieu, “Distinction: A Social Cr ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is not a finished review. There's also pieces of my review in Image Music Text. This review is specific to the essay The Death of the Author.

There will always be context in the origin of a piece of art that lends to the understanding of the art. Granted, there are different degrees to the importance of context per art form, depending on where and when it came from, but the author will always be important. The author has both confines of its own that created the voice it speaks with in text,
Joey Dhaumya
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
3/5 because that is the average of a 1 star and 5 star rating, trivial signifiers in their own right but, as the ends of a range, they capture my reaction to this essay. I vehemently disagree on almost all accounts. His basic idea when unpacked has several kernels of truth, explored brilliantly, though in ways I consider myopic and misguided. So while I love Barthes' use of language and fearless championing of a controversial position, I am so thoroughly at odds with it that I can respect only t ...more
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
4/5 Stars (%77/100)

Roland Barthes making people angry since 1967. An essential essay in literary theory and postmodernism. Difficult to understand as always but when you read it over and over, you realize that it really makes sense. Barthes did it again ladies and gentlemen.
Annie Bose
{some notes on Roland Barthes' essay, The Death of the Author (1968)}
{I was really sleepy while typing this, excuse the errors}

The intellectual battle significant at the time when Barthes wrote this essay was centred around subjectivity, particularly authorial subjectivity. Humanist and Romantic notions of the human subject stressed upon the author as an individual—they celebrated the traits of autonomy, personality or genius. This emphasis made the assumption that the author's biography and in
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, theory
One of the most fascinating essays on literary theory that I've read. It is utterly confusing and backwards at times, but I JUST LOVE DISCUSSIONS AROUND AUTHORSHIP. As a writer and poet myself, I always wonder if my readers will understand where I'm coming from, but at the end of the day, when a reader begins a text, some readers 'forget' the author. The text only exists. For other readers, they're hyperaware of the author and that changes a text.

Language is fascinating. Literature is fascinati
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
All around a good and easy read. Though the only counterpoint I would raise is that this lack of closure that Barthes describes is only a refusal of the protestant fundamentalist God, but otherwise, contrary to his more generalizing claim, opens the possibility of God, as it allows for a process-oriented flow of open meaning and further creation, rather than a hubristic final-say that denies the vital possibility of God's word. This essay is a strike down upon the humanistic model of literary cr ...more
tortoise dreams
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The current academic trend in literary criticism these days is a theory spun in an essay by Roland Barthes (why are all the clever theoreticians French, when the French seem best at pastry, cheese, and wine? Hmm ...), known affectionately as The Death of the Author (DOTA). Let me caveat right here: I'm not an academic, I'm untrained in literary analysis, and if I abuse some key concepts I admit ignorance, but I'm not attempting to misstate the tenets of the theory. In this approach the reader (p ...more
Anh Thuy
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a crucial and foundational essay, and more urgently so in today's America where biographical and political anecdotes often precedes the work of art itself. Barthes' writing is more often than not concise and non- pedantic. Other work to look at beside this little book would be writings from Rancière or Jean Luc Nancy, both of whom responded to the same subject. I am mentally comprising a list of debates for my personal study. ...more
All My Friends  Are Fictional
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"To give an Author to a text is to impose upon that text a stop clause, to furnish it with a final signification, to close the writing. ... The birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author".
One could disagree with Barthes but one must appreciate his genius.
José Cruz Parker
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Don't agree with the author's thesis. Not because I don't think he's right, but because I think it's impossible for anyone to wholly separate the author as a person from his or her work. Maybe things would be different if books were written by an AI following an algorithm, which I suspect is a not too faraway reality. But as it is, we sadly have to make a connection between a work of literature and its author. ...more
Anne Oftedahl
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Read as research for my Language-Writing-Reading essay
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gearing up for grad school stuff, I've decided to really dive into looking at some literary theory. For those reading who are in college: don't get rid of any larger text books regarding this kind of stuff. Seriously, I'm going back and rebuying a ton of books I ditched after I graduated. At the time, I didn't recognize the value.

Anyway, I think Barthes claim in this piece is actually really interesting and I want to frame it around a video game I actually once played called "The Beginner's Guid
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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

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