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A term used by the French critic Roland Barthes in his book S/Z (1970), and usually translated as ‘writerly’. In contrast with the easily readable or ‘readerly’ text (textelisible), the writerly text does not have a single ‘closed’ meaning; instead, it obliges each reader to produce his or her own meanings from its fragmentary or contradictory hints. Ideally—and the concept is very much a theoretical ideal rather than a description—the writerly text is challengingly ‘open’, giving the reader an active role as co‐writer, rather than as passive consumer. The nearest actual equivalents of this ideal would seem to be the more difficult works of modernism and postmodernism. See also indeterminacy, jouissance.

Subjects: Literature.

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