On Roland Barthes'After The Death of the Author

Essay by lvlv13 July 2009

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Abstract: As Roland Barthes declares "the death of the author", the conventional author-centered theory is overthrown; the whole literary pattern goes through an unprecedented revolution as well. Thus this paper will devote to explore its influence towards three main constituents of the pattern: writer, reader and text from a post-structural perspective to see their new roles in producing meaning from literary works and the relationship among themselves.

Key words: "the death of the author"; reader; text; post-structuralismIntroductionIn 1968 the French literary theorist Roland Barthes, while illustrating the significant relationship between the reader and text in producing meaning from literary works clearly declared "the death of the author". This declaration is the presentation in the literary field of post-structuralism in fighting against center and authority. It devotes to overthrow such a myth: author is the owner of works and the only authority in determining their meaning.

This radical observation arouses tremendous reflection in the literary world towards literary convention as it overthrows authors' traditional authority which is worshiped by critics over a long time and sets up the subjective role of the reader and text.

Till now there is still argument on this theory's validity, but based on solid theoretical foundation its significance in reforming the literary pattern is hard to denial.

I. Theoretical BackgroundIn the 20th century the most distinctive features in western philosophy is to establish the central role of language as it has been separated from thought and become an independent existence. This breakthrough derives from Saussure who is commonly considered as the founder of structural linguistics. Saussure believes that language is a system of signs consisted of two parts: the signifier and the signified whose relationship is arbitrary and accidental. This judgment leads to the thorough transform of people's view towards language. And its application...