Roland Barthes (1915-1980)

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The Death of the Author" (1968)

In this work Barthes frees the literary text from any claims of unity that might have been possible by a reference to what the author intended.

The text is therefore not produced by the author but rather by the reader.

It is language that actually speaks, not the author.

To write is to allow language to perform, not me.

This allows the endless free play of meaning

"From Work to Text" (1971)

In this work Barthes suggests a difference between the traditional notion of work and his own notion of text.

Work can be seen in libraries, text is experienced in the activity of production.

Text places itself behind general opinion, refusing to be limited by societal norms.

Text, as signifier, is not the first stage of meaning. It practices the infinite deferment of the signified. It is structured, like language, but off-centered.

Text is plural. As no sign is 'pure,' the text exists through its difference.

Work is fathered by an author, text is not haunted by this process of filiation. Author's biography, for example, is merely another text to be read. It is the language which speaks in the text, not the author.

Text becomes writable when the reader is asked to collaborate in making it.

As such, text offers pleasure/jouissance as a space for social utopia that transcends social relations (author, reader, critic) and language relations (no language has a hold over any other)