The Seventh Function of Language
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...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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, ...more
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 ...more
Binet offers an unquestionably brilliant evocation of French postmodernism of the 1970s and early 1980s, particularly the "gang" of Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, Sollers, Kristeva and others; ...more
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 ...more
You know those slot machine windows where there are a dozen lines zigzagging up and down through the ...more
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 ...more
The plot is, it has to be said, ridiculous. In an alternative history, the death of Roland Barthes is not an accident but the starting point of a story about a mythical seventh ...more
So, what does ...more
(Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy!)
In 2012, the founder of The Philosophers’ Magazine, Julian Baggini, wrote an essay in which he said: “The Simpsons is much more than a funny animated cartoon, it’s a work of philosophy. It does philosophy better than most philosophers.” So convinced that this was indeed the case, Glasgow University introduced a course examining the wisdom of the Simpson family in philosophical terms. (A course that proved decidedly popular. D’oh.) Baggini also stated: “Comedy is the most truthful ...more
How many French stand-up comedians can you name? None right. I even know of a German stand up. (Eddie Izzard doing gigs in French doesn't count btw, he's English).
Buskers on Paris Metro station concourses play violins or cellos and often have a music stand for their music, unlike Tube buskers who strum electric guitars plugged into practice amps along to Pink Floyd. Burgeoning hip-hop from the suburbs aside, France has no contemporary pop culture. Which is why ...more
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. ...more