Reaction Essay: "The Death of the Author" by Roland Barthes

Essay by KEEBLER100A+, March 2006

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Roland Barthes, a noted writer and believer of structuralism, outlines the basis for his structuralist theory in his text "The Death of the Author". Barthes' concern at this point in his career is with the relationship between the author and the writing and this is reflected in his essays entitled "The Death of the Author". Barthes' divides his argument into two parts. The first is the author who exists before the book was ever written, thinks, suffers, lives for it. Consequently, the author is always considered as a father to his literary child. Second, Barthes considers that now the modern writer is born with the text at the same time. As a result, every text is written here and now rather than after the author's thought. To this end, Barthes posits that the author can never express exactly what he means when he uses words as the instruments of expression.

Consequently, he argues that the image of literature should not be centered on the author's personal life but on the text or work itself.

Because of Barthes, we now know that a text is not a line of words releasing a single theological meaning but a multidimensional space which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and dance with each other. The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centers of many cultures. As a result, the author will never be original in his thought but will imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original.

Like many structuralist theorists, Barthes wanted to create a way for people to deepen their understanding of language, society, literature, and texts. Barthes believed that text was a human invention; consequently, the deepest feelings and thoughts of a writer are always bound to spill...