Roland Gerard Barthes
French social and literary critic whose writings on
Semiotics, helped establish
Structuralism, and later Post-Structuralism.
Barthes studied at the University of Paris.
After working (1952-59) at
the Centre National de la Recherche Scientific, he
was appointed to the
Ecole Pratique des hauthe etudes. In 1976 he became the
first person to hold the chair of literary semiology at the College de France.
- His first book, Le Degre zero de l'ecriture
Writing Degree Zero), examined the arbitrariness of the constructs of
- In subsequent books -- including Mythologies
(1957), Essais Critiques (1964) and La Tour
Eiffel (1964) -- he applied the same critical apparatus to the
"mythologies" (i.e. hidden assumptions) behind popular and cultural
- His Sur Racine (1963) set off a literary furor in
France pitting Barthes against traditional academics who thought that
viewing a text as a system of signs was desecrating the classics.
- Even more radical was S/Z (1970), in which Barthes
stresed the active role of the reader in constructing a narrative based
on textual "cues."
- By the late 1970s Barthes theories had become extremely
influential not only in France but throughout Europe and in the US.
Barthes last two, very personal books established his late-blooming
reputation as a stylist and writer. He published Roland Barthes
par Roland Barthes and Fragments d'un discours
(1977; A Lovers Discourse), an account of a painful love affair.
- Several posthumous collections of his writings have been published,
A Barthes Reader and Incidents ,
the latter volume
revealed Barthes homosexuality, which he had not
Barthes was strongly influenced by the the ideas of linguist Ferdinand
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