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Roland Barthes

(1915—1980) French writer and critic


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(1915–1980)

French critic.

Barthes was born in Cherbourg. A leading exponent of the nouvelle critique of the 1950s and 1960s, his approach to literary criticism was first presented in Le Degré zéro de l'écriture (1953; translated as Writing Degree Zero, 1972). The ideas he put forward in Mythologies (1957; translated in 1972) led Barthes towards the theory of semiology, the science of signs and symbols developed by Ferdinand de Saussure in the early twentieth century; Eléments de sémiologie (1964; translated in 1967) defined the theory in more detail. Severely criticized for his attack on traditional methods of literary analysis in Sur Racine (1963; translated as On Racine, 1964), Barthes replied with Critique et vérité (1966); the dispute between the nouveaux critiques and those of earlier schools continued to rage for some time. Barthes's later works include an autobiographical novel, Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes (1975; translated in 1977), the successful Fragments d'un discours amoureux (1977; translated as A Lover's Discourse: Fragments, 1978), and an analysis of the photograph, La Chambre claire (1980; translated as Camera Lucida, 1982). He died after a road accident.

Subjects: Literature.


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