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The Seventh Function of Language

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,007 ratings  ·  554 reviews

From the prizewinning author of HHhH, “the most insolent novel of the year” (L’Express )

Paris, 1980. The literary critic Roland Barthes dies—struck by a laundry van—after lunch with the presidential candidate François Mitterand. The world of letters mourns a tragic accident. But what if it wasn’t an accident at all? What if Barthes was . . . murdered?

In The Seventh Funct

Hardcover, 359 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published August 19th 2015)
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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,007 ratings  ·  554 reviews

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He’s Not the Messiah; He’s a Naughty Boy

Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the surrealist English television and film troupe, famous for among other things the hysterically funny Life of Brian, was the new wave of British comedy in the 1970’s. The focus of Monty Python’s humor was not so much human behaviour as it was the very meaning of meaning to human beings - its relativity, its conventionality, and its inherent absurdity.

Roland Barthes, the motivator of the action in The 7th Function of Language
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What would you do if you ruled the world?” The gigolo replied that he would abolish all laws. Barthes said: “Even grammar?

This is a League of Extraordinary Gentleman for the French Theory set. Each page tumbles with allusions and citations, a whodunit which explores the esoteric and the political. I was smitten from the opening page and matters progressed from there. Despite some meta crabwalking I was fervently on-board, routinely laughing and marveling, enjoying the goat rodeo of the mind, my
Jun 03, 2018 added it
Shelves: french
Roland Barthes, who wrote Death of the Author, is in turn killed by this author. Other acts of violence or mere indignities happen to “real” people. Antonioni, the film director has a finger chopped off. Umberto Eco gets pissed on by a hippie. Phillipe Sollers . . . well: The sophist with the doctor’s beak wedges Sollers’s balls between the two blades of the shears, firmly grips the handles, and presses them together. Snip. Camille Paglia - A young, short-haired woman, who looks a bit like a cr ...more
Philippe Malzieu
French intelligentsia hate this book. It is a good sign.
Roland Barthes is dead. Murder? Perhaps. Who killed barthes who had discovered the 7th language function, able to give the power. It is an improbable thriller, Tintin at the structuralists. We meet Foucault in the gay backrooms, Sollers, Kristeva Chomsky, Searle, Eco, Jacobson...from Bologna to Cornell.
But especially, it is funny, hilarious, incredibly funny for a french book. Generally, during "rentrée littéraire", books are sinister, au
Paul Fulcher
In Bologna, he had sex with Bianca in a seventeenth-century amphitheatre and narrowly escaped death in the bombed train station. Here, he has almost been stabbed in a library at night by a linguistics philosopher and has witnesses a decidedly mythological doggy-style sex scene on a photocopier. He met Giscard in the Elysee palace, bumped into Foucault in a gay sauna, took part in a car chase which ended with an attempt on his life, saw a man kill another man with a poisonous umbrella, discovered ...more
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, 2018-read
Okay, I have to give Binet 5 stars for writing a book full to the brim with ideas, in which every sentence contains at least one thought, and that manages to be all kinds of contradictory things at once: High-brow and low-brow, noir murder mystery and comedy, social analysis and satire, pulp and linguistic textbook, Sherlock Holmes and Austin Powers, and so much more. Yes, the book does have some flaws, but it is so fun, intelligent and daring that I want to applaud Binet for his wild imaginatio ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Τον Binet τον έμαθε ο κόσμος από το ΗΗhH, ένα ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα που μαζί είναι και το προσωπικό ημερολογίο του συγγραφέα: οι σκέψεις πάνω στη συγγραφή του βιβλίου και στην προσήλωση στην ιστορική ακριβεία που αργά ή γρήγορα ένας ιστοριογράφος θα κάμψει στο βωμό μια συνεκτικής και πιασάρικης ιστορίας. Στην Έβδομη λειτουργία της γλώσσας γράφει ένα μυθιστόρημα, δίχως όμως να αφήνει τον αναγνώστη να ξεχνάει πως και ένα προιόν μυθοπλασίας έχει από πίσω του έναν άνθρωπο που κοπιάζει για να το γράψε ...more
Katia N
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What it is? It is a mixture of a thriller with the tour de force of linguistics and literary theories. Binet picked up the year 1980, took real famous people and real events and has built a fictional plot around them. He also created two main fictional characters for the connection between his plot and the rest. The book effortlessly mixes real ideas in linguistics with the fictional actions by the characters (both the invented and and the real ones). The premise is intriguing: what if Roland Ba ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Immaginiamo una funzione del linguaggio che permetta, in modo più estensivo, di convincere chiunque a fare una qualsiasi cosa in una situazione qualsiasi. Colui che avesse la conoscenza e il controllo di una tale funzione sarebbe virtualmente il padrone del mondo. La sua potenza non avrebbe alcun limite. Potrebbe farsi eleggere in tutte le elezioni, potrebbe sollevare le folle, provocare rivoluzioni, sedurre tutte le donne, vendere ogni sorta di prodotti immaginabili, costruire imperi, truffare ...more
Viv JM
Well, that was an unexpected delight!

I can't say I would ever have chosen to read this book, had it not been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize (and been the only book from the said longlist stocked by my local bookshop). From the blurb I had imagined it would be rather pretentious and self congratulatory and whilst, there was occasionally an element of the latter, overall I found it jolly good fun. I loved the evolving relationship between Bayard and his sidekick Simon. I loved t
Nelson Zagalo
Arthur Conan Doyle criou a base, Umberto Eco criou o modelo, Dan Brown aperfeiçoou a trama com uma fórmula, Laurent Binet usou a base e o modelo e abusou da fórmula por meio da sátira, e assim criou o thriller intelectual da década, em "A Sétima Função da Linguagem" (2015). Temos crime e mistério com direito a conspirações internacionais criadas a partir de académicos tornados celebridades com teorias de crítica literária transformadas em Santo Graal. Se gostarem de qualquer destes elementos, es ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
The book was 2018 MBI longlisted, and I read it with ManBookering group.
To me it was a slightly better-than-average detective thriller filled with sometimes excessive academic minutia.
Paris police chief Bayard and young professor Simon Herzog teamed up to investigate the seemingly accidental death of renowned literary critic Roland Barthes. Kind of a Sherlock Holmes tale infused with both intellectual (academic) and erotic stimulations.
Real historical events, like French election and Bologna mas
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is going to be extraordinarily difficult to write much about this book without divulging the plot, and I do want you to read it without any foreknowledge (not that such a thing is possible, because context is of course one of the issues here). So I will try to put the big spoilers at the end, hidden, and you can decide whether to read the last review paragraphs before or after the book.

You know those slot machine windows where there are a dozen lines zigzagging up and down through the simples
MJ Nicholls
Feb 18, 2018 marked it as half-read  ·  review of another edition
Read up to p.168. In complete reviewerly concord with Lee Klein as to the novel’s initial momentum and momentous moments—the whip-smart précis of theories from the pastiched theorists, the hilarious send-ups of the self-regarding demimondes, the clever take on the political lunacies of the period, the sparky self-awareness of the narrator, and the frothy fun of the comic dialogue. But when the novel moves to Bologna, and the conceit of Barthes’s “7th language”, i.e. a mind-control tool for world ...more
Karel-Willem Delrue
Een heerlijke speeltuin

Hier zullen ze in elke taalopleiding van smullen. Het lijkt wel alsof Laurent Binet een stapel syllabi uit de afdeling taalwetenschap aan zijn schrijftafel heeft samengevoegd met wat hij heeft geleerd in een opleiding verhaal- en verteltheorie om zijn nieuwe roman uit te werken. ‘De zevende functie van taal’ fictionaliseert de dood van Roland Barthes en voert de grote Franse denkers van de jaren 80 op als personages in een roman die het midden houdt tussen Milan Kundera en
Ana Carvalheira
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Que adjetivo poderíamos adotar para qualificar uma alma que, explorando assuntos e temas tão herméticos para a nossa compreensão e que incluem valências socioculturais que poderão surgir algo desenquadradas com a nossa atualidade, o nosso quotidiano – ou pelo menos de alguns de nós - como uma abordagem literária ou romanceada à semiologia, ao construtivismo ao estruturalismo que enformam algumas produções filosóficas nas quais se perfilam, sem alguma promiscuidade, as correntes peripatéticas, di ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vince a mani basse il premio di libro più originale dell’anno appena trascorso (e magari anche di qualche altro anno precedente) questo pastiche ironico di giallo, storia gotica, spy story, testo di linguistica, testo di semiotica, testo di storia della cultura francese - e non solo - degli anni settanta/ottanta.
E mi rendo conto che, non sapendo assolutamente niente né di linguistica né di semiotica (cosa che mi accorgo essere grave, per una persona che vive di parole e della necessità di usarl
Christophe Jung
Sep 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
On croit un moment que l'on a en mains un roman brillant et hilarant. Mais très vite, l'enquête rocambolesque menée par un jeune prof de fac et un policier beauf s’essouffle. Les mêmes scènes se répètent, les mêmes grosses ficelles se répètent ( prêter des rôles de conspirateurs à des intellectuels célèbres - Umberto Eco, Sollers, BHL, etc...). Le suspens ne prend pas, on sort épuisé à la longue par des chapitres extrêmement verbeux, répétitifs et ennuyeux. La fin ( ou plutôt le dénouement) de c ...more
Simon Robs
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an entertaining book! Aside the generous liberties taken to story-tell with the cavalcade of personalities from that era 1980's there was a reasonably well explicated laying out of semiotics/linguistics/historical record of those who developed the fields of study. I just finished another book which also "Lost in the Cosmos" delved into the murky waters of the semiotics relationship to culture/history and so this was helpful - there's a new hook in my mouth and where this will lead - the mag ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been too long since I gave a novel five stars because it was an absolute joy from start to finish. This is most certainly the first such novel of 2018. ‘The 7th Function of Language’ is an extremely funny murder mystery farce set in the pompous and obscure world of European theorists. It pulls off a number of very neat tricks. One is enabling the reader to feel clever for recognising various characters, while mocking the theorists sufficiently that the risk of pretentiousness is undercut. ...more
Dimitris Passas
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
''Η πραγματική εξουσία είναι η γλώσσα''. (σ.209)

''Το μεγαλύτερο μάθημα σημειολογίας είναι ότι κάθε συμβάν στο σύμπαν σημαίνει κάτι''. (σ. 232)

Όταν πληροφορήθηκα ότι υπάρχει μυθιστόρημα, στο οποίο πρωταγωνιστούν ως λογοτεχνικοί χαρακτήρες ο Φουκώ, ο Ντελέζ, ο Έκο, ο Μπάρτ και ένα πλήθος άλλων προσωπικοτήτων από την -κυρίως Γαλλική- φιλοσοφία/πολιτική θεωρία, πολιτική και καλλιτεχνική ζωή, έσπευσα να αγοράσω την ''Έβδομη Λειτουργία της Γλώσσας'' έχοντας θέσει λίαν υψηλό τον πήχυ των προσδοκιών μου
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1978, een volle aula in de Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte op de Blandijn in Gent. Vak: Nederlandse taalkunde. Professor V.F. Vanacker raakt hopeloos verstrikt in zijn uitleg over de Transformationeel Generatieve Grammatica en Chomsky’s boomdiagrammen. Gênante stilte, lichte verbijstering en hier en daar besmuikt gelach op de banken van de honderdtwintig aanwezige studenten. Vanacker, veel meer gespecialiseerd in dialectologie dan in het nieuwerwetse structuralisme, laat het vak TGG voortaan ...more
Makis Dionis
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cognac
1980- 1981
Μιτεράν vs Ζισκάρ
Λεντλ vs Μποργκ
Μπαρόκ vs Κλασσικού

Οργασμός σημειολογίας, γλωσσολογίας και διαλεκτικής.
Διαβασμενος ο Binet, αλλά λίγο κουράζει με τους από μηχανής Θεούς στο noir του.
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Folgende Überlegung von Inspektor Bayard (eine der Hauptfiguren), beschreibt eigentlich zutreffend das ganze Buch:
»Natürlich weiß er, dass sich diese Art Bücher nicht an ihn richten, dass es ein Buch für die Klugscheißer ist, damit diese Brotfresser von Intellektuellen untereinander was zu lachen haben. Sich über sich selber lustig machen: das Höchste des Elitären.«
Eine Persiflage auf die intellektuelle Szene Frankreichs, im Gewand eines Krimis. Von Michel Foucault über Umberto Eco bis Franço
I was thrilled when I first heard about this book, because I love novels that are set in an academic background (even better if there's murder involved) and I've been wanting to read Binet's Prix Goncourt winning first novel "HHhH" for the longest time. This one, however, didn't convince me. It started out promising, I loved the setting in different European cities, but at some point the sheer amount of real-life characters, lengthy, repetitive scenes, pseudo-intellectual language (yes, I'm awar ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: varia-scripta
Szpiegowski kryminał osadzony w środowisku francuskich semiologów i filozofów z początku lat 80-tych. Nie wiem, czy to brzmi zachęcająco. Ale wyszło coś rewelacyjnego.

Autor wyszedł od wydarzeń, które na prawdę miały miejsce: potrącenie na paryskiej ulicy znanego krytyka literackiego oraz śmierć żony komunizującego filozofa. Do tych wydarzeń dołożył mnóstwo krwistej fikcji, w którą wplótł prawdziwe i fikcyjne postaci. Forma powieści szpiegowskiej to tylko tylko czubek góry lodowej. Pod powierzch
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

What can you do with language?

This is the question Laurent Binet asks his readers and the question he attempts to answer in this extraordinarily intelligent and amusing novel.

Binet begins with the assumption that Roland Barthes’s death was no accident. Barthes, famous linguistic and semiologist, had apparently uncovered a seventh function of language, or, to put it simply, a secret, a technique that would permit those who mastered it to turn words into actions. That is, to be like God wh
Roman pas inintéressant, mais qui se perd dans son propre concept de pastiche, et tombe dans la caricature. Certains passages sont éprouvants tellement ils sont illisibles de caricature (scènes à l'université américaine). Quant au name-dropping, à force de s'amuser, l'auteur finit par ne plus amuser le lecteur.

Le principal problème du livre, qui apparaît après une première partie formidable et très drôle, c'est de ne pas avoir réussi à tenir son concept de départ (dire l'histoire secrète de la m
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Une très bonne lecture pour cette rentrée littéraire, j'ai beaucoup appris mais j'ai surtout réalisé que j'ai encore beaucoup à apprendre et j'en ressors avec une liste d'auteurs et de chercheurs à lire ou à feuilleter, selon le courage... J'ai adoré la chute du roman qui est un hommage au langage et probablement à Barthes... L'intrigue est très bien ficelée, on les voit les années de recherches de Binet pour écrire ce roman. Un de ces livres que je relirai dans quelques années, une fois que je ...more
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, _owned
Já tinha gostado muito de HHhH e a minha expectativa era alta.
Em 1980 Roland Barthes é atropelado à saída de um almoço com o candidato François Mitterrand, no bolso do casaco tem o segredo para a sétima função da linguagem. A partir daqui, Laurent Binet constrói um "whodunnit" brilhante e hilariante onde as personagens principais são os principais linguistas, filósofos e semiólogos da segunda metade do século XX. A forma como articula as várias correntes filosóficas e linguísticas, os egos e as
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The Mookse and th...: 2018 MBI Longlist: 7th Function of Language 32 70 May 30, 2018 02:01AM  
ManBookering: The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet 33 82 Apr 12, 2018 11:33AM  
  • One Hundred Twenty-One Days
  • Die, My Love
  • Compass
  • Der fliegende Berg
  • Die Welt voran
  • Belladonna
  • Dijk
  • The Foundling Boy (The Foundling Boy, #1)
  • L'autoportrait bleu
  • Fogság
  • Como la sombra que se va
  • Là où les tigres sont chez eux
  • Les Thibault I: Le Cahier Gris; Le Penitencier; La Belle Saison
  • Intérieur
  • A Balcony in the Forest
  • L'Art français de la guerre
  • Jan Karski
  • Coração Apertado
Son of an historian, he was born in Paris, graduated from University of Paris in literature, and taught literature in Parisian suburb and eventually at University. He was awarded the 2010 Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman for his first novel, HHhH.

Laurent Binet est né à Paris. Il a effectué son service militaire en Slovaquie et a partagé son temps entre Paris et Prague pendant plusieurs années. Agrég
“What would you do if you ruled the world?” The gigolo replied that he would abolish all laws. Barthes said: “Even grammar?” 10 likes
“Glory to the logos, my friends! Long live dialectics! Let the party begin! May the verb be with you!” 4 likes
More quotes…