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The Death of the Author

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,384 ratings  ·  80 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.
Published (first published 1984)
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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
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 ...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 ...more
Praiz Sophyronja
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 an
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 !
'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
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
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."
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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.
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.
Anne Oftedahl
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Read as research for my Language-Writing-Reading essay
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
Chef Marketis
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
The beginning of the postmodern interpretation of the author at the arms of capitalism forming something that "resists analysis."
It's hard to imagine someone such as Barthes take a shallow approach to a subject, especially when it redefines the genre of art criticism. However, redefining something doesn't mean that it's new definition is meaningful if it's author is dumb and illiterate. Meaning can be salvaged if we interpret the narrator as Barthes briefly alludes to however his conclusions
نیلوفر رحمانیان
"The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author." The essence of the text is shocking and heart breaking . At first i was trying anything in mind just to prove Barthes wrong. Yet i believe that the area of dominance of authors was about to end and the age of reader was about to flourish. Because lets be honest no one ever cared about the reader before, it was all about the author and not the representation of him in the text only, his past, his thoughts that arent even in ...more
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2012
Full of unruly and incredibly satisfying ideas that one wishes would fit on a business card (to be offered to pretty strangers, recent friends, romantic partners, vaguely accusatory strangers demanding to know the content of your English degree, etc.):

"[T]he reader of the Text might be compared to an idle subject (who has relaxed his image-repetoire): this fairly empty subject strolls (this has happened to the author of these lines, and it is for this reason that he has come to an intense
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,
Ali Nili
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"text is a tissue [or fabric] of quotations."
Lindu Pindu
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For an interesting discussion about this text, go here:
Sang Agung
This is not a review, but rather an attempt to paraphrase Barthes in my own term.

Literature is a linguistic medium; that is, the transition of symbols. The medium has two ends: the author and the reader, yet literature remains thought as the expression of one end’s individuality--that of the author, the one who ruled over the medium and the reader.

Surrealist art movement attempted to topple this tyranny by erasing the author and exposing the medium beneath the externality of language. Language
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This essay was a brilliant way to introduce myself to literary theory and my first Barthes. I'm going to admit to a bias that might have fueled my affection for this essay. Before I discovered it, I already was in a headspace where I was convinced about the absence of such a thing as original ideas. Art/Design and any human creation is only a manifestation of everything that has happened to them so far and artists simply pre-date /their/ art. Barthes explains this briefly and beautifully in a ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've always loved this essay. It's simple and straightforward yet brilliant in it's explanation, or apology - if one will, of modernist and a chunk of postmodernist ideals. Yet where Barthes is idealistic, the future of his subject is not. The ideas of the death of the author and birth of the reader have since been adopted, accepted and then perverted beyond all recognition, leaving the essay behind as a memorial to more idealist times and philosophies.
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great argument to break the Romantic views of the author as an exceptional human ahead of his time, Barthes is trying to destroy the authority that is given to authors, and give rise to the idea that the reader is the real creator of all meanings... A great argument that I don’t really agree with, the creation of meaning depends on the relation between both the author and the reader’s lives, at least in my opinion.
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great essay!
It shows how the literary criticism has changed and what we, today, take for granted is actually a new notion.

We take the reader for granted these days. But looking at Roland Barthes we find out that taking into consideration the reader is a fairly new criticism.

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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.
“Literature is that neuter, that composite, that oblique into which every subject escapes, the trap where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes.” 7 likes
“Man does not exist prior to language, either as a species or as an individual. We never encounter a state where man is separated from language, which he then elaborates in order to 'express' what is happening to him: it is language which teaches the definition of man, not the contrary.” 5 likes
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