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A Barthes Reader

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  212 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A Barthes Reader gives one the image of Barthes as one of the great public teachers of our time, someone who thought out, argued for, and made available several steps in a penetrating reflection on language sign systems, texts- and what they have to tell us about the concept of being human. Susan Sontag's prefatory essay is one of her finest acts of criticism, informed by intell ...more
Hardcover, 495 pages
Published January 1st 1983 by Hill and Wang (first published 1982)
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Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most joyful reading experiences is anything by Roland Barthes. He is sort of like a great tasty piece of fruit. You peel one layer of the fruit and you get a surprise of some sort. Susan Sontag put this reader together and it sort of a greatest hits package or a "welcome to Barthes" new reader set. If you are new to him, this is a great volume to be introduced to.
Harry Doble
Roland Barthes was a man who lived and breathed semiotics. He applies Ferdinand de Saussure's theory of the sign to everything, and when I say everything, I mean everything. A short list of topics the collection of writings in the book touches on is art, literature, film, photography, architecture, writing, striptease, wrestling, tuberculosis, cooking, teaching, science, love, and, sex. Barthes wrote about every pit stop his mind came to, and no thought of his escaped the structuralist binary of ...more
Oct 28, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Putting this one away for now. I feel like there are wonderful things to unearth in Barthes' writings, but for some reason it is all leaving me cold at the moment. Perhaps I am just more in the mood for some heartfelt imaginative prose rather than elevated theory, but I am just not receptive to this at all, for whatever reason. Back onto the shelf until your proper time.


Found this on the cheap at a used book stall at a mediocre marke
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many festive, resplendent and juicy relations to ideas, for you to dip your toes in and savor at will. Prepare yourself for the "ecstatic experience of understanding" and the occasional "moment of gentle apocalypse."
I picked up a copy at a bargain booksale, despite being so, so sick of Barthes. I noticed that this reader, edited by Sontag, contains five essays not included in the American edition of 'Critical Essays,' a circumstance that probably justifies--though just barely--the $1 I spent for it.
Sayantan Dasgupta
A collection of essays written by my favorite semiotician. Superb read. It opens up a new view-point.
Dylan Rowen
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Writing, on the contrary, is always rooted in something beyond language, it develops like a seed, not like a line, it manifests an essence and holds the threat of a secret, it is anti-communication, it is intimidating.”
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Sontag's intro is fascinating. There are pieces here that are also fascinating, but also pieces that aren't. I think Barthes is best experienced in a contained, brief form. Skip this and go read S/Z or Writing Degree Zero.
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that is worth reading for the introduction by Susan Sontag alone, but that would be a disservice to the excellent group of essays by Roland Barthes that she selected for inclusion in this reader. The opening essay, "On Gide and His Journal", won me over with its insights into one of my favorite authors. The remaining essays range from Tacitus to Racine to Garbo which should provide some idea of the breadth of Barthes' interest and intellect. There are also judicious selections fro ...more
Simon Bailey
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
Every good reader is a frustration, always leaving you with a sense of unfinished business. However, in the case of essayists like Barthes, the format works uncommonly well - though inevitably, I must now go out and buy at least three more of his longer works. Susan Sontag does an excellent job of selecting and introducing Barthes, and his world of the aesthetic; the celebration of meaning through visualisation.
An excellent collection of pieces by Barthes, including the key essays "Introduction to a Structural Analysis of Narrative" and "Writers, Intellectuals, Teachers". Barthes was always at his best in shorter pieces, and this collection contains lovely examples of his writing.
Tom Schulte
This compendium of the great Frenchman's writing goes over my head most of the time. When I can see what the man is saying, I find it highly intelligent and instructive. Subjects range from theatric, staged wrestling to mythology as a meta-language.
im not really
Fenixbird SandS
Dec 30, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ASL? signing lexicons compared
Not for EVERYONE! lol..but as a Sign Language interpreting major.. right up my alley!! Thx
Geoffrey Rhodes
Sep 03, 2007 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
A good collection of Barthes, and it includes one of my favorites, The Third Meaning.
Peter Miller
Jul 17, 2011 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I have just finished the bit about wrestling.
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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.
“I call the discourse of power any discourse which engenders blame, hence guilt, in its recipient. Some expect of us as intellectuals that we take action on every occasion against Power, but our true battle is elsewhere, it is against powers in the plural, and this is no easy combat. For if it is plural in social space, power is, symmetrically, perpetual in historical time. Exhausted, defeated here, it reappears there; it never disappears. Make a revolution to destroy it, power will immediately revive and flourish again in the new state of affairs. The reason for this endurance and this ubiquity is that power is the parasite of a trans-social organism, linked to the whole of man's history and not only to his political, historical history. This object in which power is inscribed, for all of human eternity, is language, or to be more precise, its necessary expression: the language we speak and write.” 3 likes
“There is an age at which we teach what we know. Then comes another age at which we teach what we do not know; this is called research. Now perhaps comes the age of another experience: that of unlearning, of yielding to the unforeseeable change which forgetting imposes on the sedimentation of the knowledges, cultures, and beliefs we have traversed.” 2 likes
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