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The Pleasure of the Text by Roland Barthes
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The Pleasure of the Text (1973)

by Roland Barthes

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Showing 4 of 4
Romanian version
  athaulf | May 17, 2014 |
definitely in the 'makes one think' category of books. the last section on voice: does the "writing aloud" that Barthes wrote did not exist in 1973 exist in 2014 via dictation software? (It would explain some things about certain works I know were produced this way)
  bunnygirl | Mar 5, 2014 |
This is a beautiful book, if not always a clear source of theoretical insight. Given how short it is, there is really no reason not to give it a little of your time. The culminating section on "Voice" is particularly gorgeous: "In fact, it suffices that the cinema capture the sound of speech close up... and make us hear in their materiality, their sensuality, the breath, the gutturals, the fleshiness of the lips, a whole presence of the human muzzle... to succeed in shifting the signified a great distance and in throwing, so to speak, the anonymous body of the actor into my ear: it granulates, it crackles, it caresses, it grates, it cuts, it comes: that is bliss." The charming language of Barthes is obviously in good hands with this translation. ( )
  breadhat | Jul 23, 2013 |
Barthes approaches reviewing and criticism as joyful acts, hence the title of the small book, the Pleasure of the Text. Inspired by Severo Sarduy’s Cobra, a novel about a Cuban drag queen who transforms into a Tibetan bardo during an orgy with leatherclad biker studs, Barthes wrote down mini-essays in alphabetic order. The essays focused on how a text can bring pleasure to the reader. He elucidates the much-misunderstood concept of the Death of the Author. The concept, maligned by the likes of Harold Bloom and Camille Paglia, does not involve turning a literary work into an amalgamation of social forces, thus negating the author. The explanation is much more prosaic.

The Death of the Author is thus: After the Author has finished his or her work; he has no control over it. The Author’s interpretative power is negated. This is because the Reader is not consuming the Author’s Interpretation, but simply a Text. (Barthes’s book can be seen as a precursor to the current discipline of Reader Reception Theory.)

The book also focuses on the concept of pleasure as it relates to the practice of reading. He asserts that literature does not require a moral component to be pleasurable to the reader. As an American subject to High School English classes, there was the tendency to examine works with a Major Moral Lesson, whether it was Grapes of Wrath or Heart of Darkness. Literary consumption became analogous to an annual teeth cleaning: painful, tedious, and instructive. But knowing the Moral Lesson made one feel good, or at least pass the quiz. What became a rarity was how to enjoy the texts as objects of pleasure. (Unfortunately, Americans have a schizophrenic relationship with pleasure and morality.)

Readers should be able to enjoy the language of the narrative without having to endure horse pills of morality. An appreciation can be made on how the author formulates the language in the same way art can be appreciated once one becomes aware of specific brushstrokes and manipulation of pigments. Appreciating books just on their moral level is stunningly pedestrian.

Roland Barthes was revolutionary both in what he reviewed and how he reviewed. He began as an orthodox Marxist but evolved a personal philosophy that embraced many things. Ecumenical and joyful, his approach to the review showed a writer both erudite and expansive.

http://driftlessareareview.com/2012/04/14/the-art-of-reviewing-roland-barthes/ ( )
1 vote kswolff | Apr 14, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roland Barthesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Špilarová, OlgaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Atque metum tantum concepit tunc mea mater
Ut paretet geminos, meque metumque simul.

--Hobbes
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The pleasure of the text: like Bacon's simulator, it can say: never apologize, never explain.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374521603, Paperback)

What is it that we do when we enjoy a text? What is the pleasure of reading? The French critic and theorist Roland Barthes’s answers to these questions constitute "perhaps for the first time in the history of criticism . . . not only a poetics of reading . . . but a much more difficult achievement, an erotics of reading . . . . Like filings which gather to form a figure in a magnetic field, the parts and pieces here do come together, determined to affirm the pleasure we must take in our reading as against the indifference of (mere) knowledge." --Richard Howard

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:54 -0400)

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