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Death of the Author

 

Explanations > Critical Theory > Concepts > Death of the Author

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

This is both an essay and general philosophy by French literary critic, Roland Barthes.

Any text, once written, has little to do with the author. The reader can put any interpretation on it that the author did not intend. This gives significant freedom to the reader who is released the task of discerning the author's real intent.

The task of the reader is not to decipher, but to enjoy and find one's own meaning.

Barthes interprets this interplay with the text as full of potential that approaches intercourse in the pleasure that can be obtained. It is language that speaks, not the author. Language creates the speaker. Language knows a subject, but not the person.

In its writing also, the content of the text has many cultures and influences, from other writers to language itself. Much content may be subconsciously added by the author ('the text is a fabric of quotations, resulting from a thousand sources of culture'). The author is thus imitative of his or her experience rather than creating something original.

Discussion

The identity of the author thus disappears and the text stands alone, where it may enhance the identity of the reader, without them being trapped by their concern about the author.

Removing the author also takes the text out of time. Without the author and his/her context, the text stands alone.

Barthes names the Author with a capital and distinguishes this person from the modern scriptor.

The traditional view is that the text is situated within the author's life and hence to understand the author is to understand the text. This could be viewed as the 'death of the text' whereby it is the author who takes center stage towards whom the text just a route.

Barthes followed de Saussure in linguistics.

See also

Linguistics

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