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Mythologies

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  14,536 ratings  ·  646 reviews
"No denunciation without its proper instrument of close analysis," Roland Barthes wrote in his preface to Mythologies. There is no more proper instrument of analysis of our contemporary myths than this book—one of the most significant works in French theory, and one that has transformed the way readers and philosophers view the world around them.

Our age is a triumph of cod
...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published 1972 by Hill and Wang (first published 1957)
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Johnny Lucas Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:
Semiology as a formal field of study was nascent at the time Barthes was writing Mythologies. Aside from the final essay…more
Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:
Semiology as a formal field of study was nascent at the time Barthes was writing Mythologies. Aside from the final essay, 'Myth, Today', Barthes does not focus on Semiological theory per se, but instead uses it to analyse the language of cultural phenomena; ranging from Wrestling to Margarine to an exhibition in Paris called 'The Great Family of Man'. His aim in this is to demonstrate how bourgeois ideology creates a separate and distorted (he even claims "parasitic") field of discourse, which he terms "mythical". In the final essay, however, Barthes explains his reasoning, influences, and method so far. I found the last essay to be rather dense, and definitely recommend reading the preceding chapters in order to familiarise yourself with the terms and concepts he uses. Overall it's a cracking read though, and recommend it to anyone who feels that there are aspects of our cosy culture which imply, rather than outright state, an unpalatable reality. Hope this helps!(less)

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Fergus
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I was in my early teens up to in my junior year in high school, my family used to often take weekend-holidays in Montreal in the summer. What wonderful memories...

I, in my free time, when my Dad and Mom were separately, otherwise occupied - my mother and sister on shopping trips to the more posh haute-couture magasins, and my father and brother on walking, exploratory tours - became a frequenter of out-of-the-way libraires.

It’s hard to believe now for my bilingual GR friends who bemoan the
...more
Riku Sayuj
On Arranging My Library


Arranging a library is no easy task:
I think Tolkien will be happy to share his space
With Virgil and Homer,
In my Library.
While I can feel the glare in my back
as I stack
Nabokov next to that one copy of
Dan Brown I own.


Arranging a library is no easy task:
To do so this seriously is almost to practice
In an amateurish and private fashion,
The art of literary criticism.
And once that notion entered my library,
My authors took to their relative positions
With none of that dismissiven
...more
Michael
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
A collection of short essays on pop culture, politics, and media, Barthes’s Mythologies dissects the cherished myths of the bourgeoisie that governed the daily life of France in the 1950s. Across fifty-four fast-moving essays, Barthes throws together a hodgepodge of trivial and topical subjects typically ignored by past intellectuals: French wrestling, children’s toys, the Tour de France, astrology, and labor strikes are only a few of his many interests. Barthes scrutinizes the social assumption ...more
Trevor
This was much more interesting than I expected it to be – and I could even go as far as to say some of it was quite fun. I mean fun in a relative sense, of course, as this is a text with quite some ‘resistance’ and so some of it was also quite hard to read.

Most of the text is a series of short essays that discuss what the author refers to as ‘myths’. Now, these aren’t really the kinds of things that you might automatically associate with the word ‘myth’. There is a longish (longish for a book t
...more
Steven Godin
The innovative essays covered in Mythologies by French semiotician and critic Barthes examines everything from mass culture, its ads and hidden or disguised messages, its icons and politics, its desperate speed in the mid-1950s, and even steak & chips! With some exceptions, these are delectable bite-sized pieces, that for the most part cover just a few pages each.

The style of Mythologies, which strikes one at first as being highly poetic and idiosyncratic, later reveals a quasi-technical use of
...more
Petre
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
The second part of the book "Myth today", which is some kind of theory of myth, I think is one of the basic work for studying of the Culture. ...more
Roz Foster
Jun 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Mythologies (1957) was recommended to me as a must-read for brand builders. Who better (or more fun) to read when boning up on brand strategy and semiotics than Roland Barthes? Each of Barthes’s very brief and highly entertaining essays demonstrates his point of view and method as a mythologist--a sarcastic bastard with the insight to look a hole right through you.

According to Barthes, a mythologist is (not just an irreverent, cultural jester, but) an individual who recognizes a cultural myth, s
...more
Tosh
Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I am not a huge critical lit reader but there is something so enjoyable about Barthes' books or essays. I like the way he writes about an everyday object or subject matter - and just tears into it like a very curious scientist. "Mythologies" is one of his more well-known titles and rightfully so. Good writer and I think he's a great reader as well. ...more
Ellen
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
In high school, I used to attend the wrestling meets. I'm not sure why. I hated spectator sports, having endured a brief period of sullen cheerleading where I found myself unable to whip up a frenzy over first downs or sis-boom-bah on command.

Among the high school wrestlers I watched, there were some who elicited greater and lesser degrees of sympathy or repugnance, while one--though otherwise an inarticulate hulk--was transformed on the mat into a figure of grace, performing pins swiftly and cl
...more
Lauren
Published as magazine articles/essays between 1956 and 1957, these essays are a slice of life in mid-century French culture, ideaology, and politics. Barthes topics range from popular material culture, wrestling, advertising, wine, tourism, astrology and many other things in these 56 essays. Some topics may be lost on modern readers (they certainly were on me as I don't know much about this era) but at three or four pages in length, the reader can easily marvel at his writing and the translation ...more
Vivian
There are times when I realize that I can be very lazy in my reading, and this book is the slap that reminded me.

I wish I had started with the second section first, Myth Today because it was an excellent review of semiotics, which I have minimal understanding of and what I knew was dusty and the terminology did not come easily or quickly. By the end of the essays I was skating along, but it is not speedy reading per se.

I feel like this book hasn't aged well. The ideas are still valid, but beca
...more
Jonfaith
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jonfaith by: Basho
Shelves: theory
To induce a collective content for the imagination is always an inhuman undertaking, not only because dreaming essentializes life into destiny, but also because dreams are impoverished, and the alibi of an absence.

Barthes and I have been familiar since whenever, but we've never been exactly intimate. I have read a few of works spaced out usually by decades. He's more of a placeholder between Heidegger/Merleau-Ponty and the post-structuralists. Mythologies is the one which seeped into the theoret
...more
Melissa Rudder
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Steve, Tim, and anyone interested in theory and rhetoric
I only had to read half of Roland Barthes' Mythologies for my Critical Theory class, but I was so engrossed that I set aside George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones (you'll understand how impressive that is if I ever get to that review) and spent a day of my spring break reading the whole thing. In Mythologies, Barthes, a theorist I previously (and less amiably) met during my Media and Rhetoric class, does a semiotic reading of different aspects of society in order to identify the ideological belie ...more
Rachel Lu
Jun 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alternatively, this book could be called Why We Can Never Escape Petit Bourgeois Culture and the Stranglehold It Has On Us. However, that is less pithy and less, well, all-encompassing as a fun little word that Barthes can use to analyze 1950s France. Myth, Barthes writes, is depoliticized speech, a language that signifies and endlessly proliferates a sign until that sign has become naturalized into society. For example, France has made itself an authority on good wine. Wine is not only influe ...more
David
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barthes' most famous contribution to the semiotics school of structuralism, post-structuralism: though not his most-read according to GoodReads (an accolade reserved for Camera Lucida). While I love all of the Barthes that I have read, I think this should be required reading somewhere (the first part, anyway). Barthes is brilliant; his eyes seem always turned to the world as it is, and yet remain mindful of the world as it seems: that is the premise of Mythologies. Intentionally or unintentional ...more
muthuvel
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Human beings have always known for succumbing to certain ways of consumption patterns of material and non-material entities under the name of this complex whole of culture. Other than this socially obliged conspicuous form of consumption that could be observed in everyday trivial mass activities, there are factors of psychology influenced by what he calls as 'myth' some of which were elucidated by Barthes using then contemporary cultural references of the French society varying from literary art ...more
flannery
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I wonder sometimes what it must be like to have been born before the simulacrum became a matter of fact, instead of 1985. What was it like to read Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, or Guy Debord before Ronald Reagan became president, Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor and the world was recreated in a manmade archipelago off the coast of Dubai? I have no idea. Roland Barthes is a tremendous writer but this book feels too precious, too quaint; serious conversations about the petite bourgeoise just f ...more
Paul
This is a great, thought-provoking set of essays that suffers from age, despite the lasting relevance of its core arguments. My main gripe was that Barthes' method of choosing bits of contemporary pop culture to illustrate his arguments is of course destined to become dated, and so a few of the chapters when over my head. I'm just not familiar with Chaplin or the Dominici Trial, and I don't know who or what the Abbé Pierre is. However, the central arguments were easy to grasp despite this, and I ...more
andreea.
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uni-reads
"The fact that we cannot manage to achieve more than an unstable grasp of reality doubtless gives the measure of our present alienation: we constantly drift between the object and its demystification, powerless to render its wholeness. For if we penetrate the object, we liberate it but we destroy it; and if we acknowledge its full weight, we respect it, but we restore it to a state which is still mystified. It would seem that we are condemned for some time yet always to speak excessively about r ...more
v
Jul 09, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
I don't get all that much out of reading these Frenchies anymore. I do have time for Barthes because he writes well, often says unexpected things, and, like his prodigal pupil Baudrillard, masters postmodern thought's most significant genre, incidental essayism: responding to and immortalizing mid-century French advertisements and court cases and cars within a sustained and engaging perspective.
What is that perspective? In this essay collection, Barthes attempts to critically unmask the hidden
...more
Bryant
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
My advice is to read this book backwards. Some of the short essays, including "Wine and Milk," "Steak and Chips," "The Blue Guide," and "The Lost Continent," are exemplary demonstrations of the ideas laid out in the long essay, "Myth Today," that concludes the book. There Barthes argues for a dense handful of concepts related to the signifier and the signified, noting especially the extent to which mythology tries to depict things properly categorized as "historical" in a manner that we might ca ...more
Richard S
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is difficult to comment on this book without engaging in superlatives, but seriously, this collection of vignettes is so fabulous, and so enjoyable, it truly falls within that must read category of books that are truly necessary. And by "necessary" I mean truly eye opening about our modern existence, and how it isn't really "modern", for we live, even today, in a world of "mythologies" not that different from the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The first essay in the volume is everyone's favorite,
...more
J.I.
Mar 12, 2010 added it
Shelves: read-2010
Oh enjoy the 3 page observations of myth in modern society. Relish how surprisingly difficult they can be to understand, but yet have something marvelous to ponder. Soon you will get to the second half, the essay "Myth Today," and it will hurt your brain reeeeeeal good. Barthes examines the power of myth, why it is so harmful, and how it works semiotically. The last 60 pages took me 5 hours to read but it was so insightful I sat struck when I had put the book down. This is not easy reading and i ...more
PS
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A favourite from my undergrad that I had to revisit recently for a paper.
James F
Roland Barthes' Mythologies is a book I should have read long ago when I was college, if for no other reason than (as I recognized in reading it) that there are echoes of its ideas and terminology in so many other things I've read, especially in books or articles about literature. The book is divided into two parts; the first part is a collection of the author's articles, mainly from les Lettres Nouvelles, exposing various "myths" in everyday life and popular culture, while the second part is a ...more
Naia Pard
Sep 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
My edition`s cover is ugly.
Maybe it is a test, to see the meaning I would extract out of it. After all, this is a book about perception. Well. A book about myths, but after reading it I found out that ”the myth is speech justified in excess.” (p.154).

It reminded me a bit of the The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language. At least in the chapter`s shortness.

The voice of the author was the playful version of one that wrote in the middle of the XX ce
...more
Sean
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Mythologies' unveils the bric-à-brac of 20th-century Western popular culture—liquid detergent, Einstein, children's toys, science fiction, the visage of Greta Garbo, Parisian strip-teases—from its banal exterior to expose layers of meaning and metameaning, the semiotics underpinning modernity. Barthes' prose, bordering on the poetic, is suffused with an appropriate level of subtle, self-aware playfulness, rendering the work a more approachable starting point in the fields of cultural studies/th ...more
Blair
While some of the essays collected in Mythologies are inevitably dated, their basic premise – the idea of cultural phenomena, everything from washing powder and cars to wrestling matches and the face of Greta Garbo, as 'modern myths' – remains both relevant and accessible. Culminating in the longer, linguistics-heavy essay 'Myth Today', the book is intellectually demanding, but it's also playful and even funny at times. A challenging and thought-provoking break from fiction. ...more
Josh Friedlander
"Roland Barthes is one of the very few literary critics in any language of whom it can be said that he has never written a bad or uninteresting page," reads the blurb, from Edward Said's NYT review. I have different tastes to the great professor and would not endorse that statement, but I was pleasantly surprised to find much pleasure in this book (along with an expected amount of exasperation).

One way of approaching Barthes is this intellectual genealogy: Saussure was inspired by the way anthro
...more
Andrea
Jan 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: theory
I loved one point made by Barthes, and one point only. So it got a three and not less, because it also had me raging.

I love the idea of myth as violence, the idea that it represents the stripping of a word or an image of all of its historical and political content, replacing it with an ideal. And in the world of today, it is almost always a political or marketing kind of ideal. Aesop, mythmaker extraordinaire, ensures through his stories that there is no longer a living, breathing, hungry lion,
...more
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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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