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4.10  ·  Rating details ·  12,981 ratings  ·  534 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
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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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
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I was in my early teens, and in my junior year in high school, my family used to often take mini-weekend-holidays in Montreal. 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 high price
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
Khashayar Mohammadi
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, french-lit
I feel this book would have had a much stronger effect on me, if I was somewhat acquainted with the bulk of its subject matter.

Since the majority of the chapters centered around prominent figures in French popular culture of the 1950s, the utter lack of information on such subjects by the modern reader thoroughly undermines any criticism; BUT, put in the context of its times, its a remarkable book which is still shockingly relevant
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
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
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
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
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,
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
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Oct 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Had high expectations for this book and it didn't deliver. I've read far more fascinating treatises on Mythologies and the modern applications from Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung and shoot even Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. While I did find some of the concepts in this book entertaining nothing really "wowed' me. In fact to show you how much it impressed me my favorite part was when the author talks about the "Mythology of French Professional Wrestling" (The French equivalent of American WWE) and how ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a collection of essays--some great (Wrestling, Wine, Tour De France, The Writer on Vacation), some I found to be impenetrable (Neither/Nor Criticism)--each examining a cultural myth and generally exposing it (often as a control tactic of the bourgeois). This feels like the source or "theory" from where "They Live" comes from.

I'm ultimately not sure how I read this to learn about semiotics (I'm honestly not sure how much I'll take away and find applicable) or if I wanted to make some sma
Griffin Alexander
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
"We pick up Derrida's Of Grammatology when we want to wrestle with the idea of play. We pick up Barthes' Mythologies when we want to play with the idea of wrestling."
—Samuel R. Delany
Walter Schutjens
Wow. After a year of Philosophy modules at a great University, the rigor or perhaps complexity of Barthes at the end of the book makes a philosophy student happy when it then also becomes fruitful knowledge.
This is a book that first toys with your perspective, and then grounds it in the western tradition.
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
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,
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Essay collection, sometimes just vignettes in the first part, making quirky observations on various things, drawing from them their operative principles and enshrining same as generalized cultural mythology, which is laid out more specifically in the second part.

Professional wrestling, for instance, a “spectacle of excess” (15), is found to “derive its originality from all excesses which make it a spectacle and not a sport” (23)—“in America wrestling represents a sort of mythological fight betwe
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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.

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