"I define the Neutral as that which outplays the paradigm, or rather I call Neutral everything that baffles paradigm." With these words, Roland Barthes describes a concept that profoundly shaped his work and was the subject of a landmark series of lectures delivered in 1978 at the Collège de France, just two years before his death. Not published in France until 2002, and appearing in English for the first time, these creative and engaging lectures deepen our understanding of Roland Barthes's (...) intellectual itinerary and reveal his distinctive style as thinker and teacher. The Neutral, as Barthes describes it, escapes or undoes the paradigmatic binary oppositions that structure and produce meaning in Western thought and discourse. These binaries are found in all aspects of human society ranging from language to sexuality to politics. For Barthes, the attempt to deconstruct or escape from these binaries has profound ethical, philosophical, and linguistic implications. _The Neutral_ is comprised of the prewritten texts from which Barthes lectured and centers around 23 "figures," also referred to as "traits" or "twinklings," that are possible embodiments of the Neutral or of the anti-Neutral. His lectures draw on a diverse set of authors and intellectual traditions, including Lao-tzu, Tolstoy, German mysticism, classical philosophy, Rousseau, Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, and John Cage. Barthes's idiosyncratic approach to his subjects gives the lectures a playful, personal, and even joyous quality that enhances his rich insights. In addition to his reflections on a variety of literary and scholarly works, Barthes's personal convictions and the events of his life shaped the course and content of the lectures. Most prominently, as Barthes admits, the recent death of his mother and the idea of mourning shape several of his lectures. (shrink)
This book brings together the great majority of Barthes's interviews that originally appeared in French in _Le Figaro Littéraire, Cahiers du Cinéma, France-Observateur, L'Express_, and elsewhere. Barthes replied to questions—on the cinema, on his own works, on fashion, writing, and criticism—in his unique voice; here we have Barthes in conversation, speaking directly, with all his individuality. These interviews provide an insight into the rich, probing intelligence of one of the great and influential minds of our time.
Roland Barthes, the French critic and semiotician, was one of the most important critics and essayists of this century. His work continues to influence contemporary literary theory and cultural studies. Image-Music-Text collects Barthes's best writings on photography and the cinema, as well as fascinating articles on the relationship between images and sound. Two of Barthes's most important essays, "Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative" and "The Death of the Author" are also included in this fine anthology, an excellent introduction (...) to his thought. These essays, as selected and translated by Stephen Heath, are among the finest writings Barthes ever published on film and photography, and on the phenomena of sound and image. The classic pieces "Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative" and "The Death of the Author" are also included. (shrink)
Roland Barthes, whose centenary falls in 2015, was a restless, protean thinker. A constant innovator, often as a daring smuggler of ideas from one discipline to another, he first gained an audience with his pithy essays on mass culture and then went on to produce some of the most suggestive and stimulating cultural criticism of the late twentieth century, including Empire of Signs, The Pleasure of the Text, and Camera Lucida. In 1976, this one time structuralist outsider was elected to (...) a chair at France's preeminent College de France, where he chose to style himself as professor of literary semiology until his death in 1980. The greater part of Barthes's published writings have been available to a French audience since 2002, but here, translator Chris Turner presents a collection of essays, interviews, prefaces, book reviews, and other journalistic material for the first time in English. Divided into five themed volumes, readers are presented in volume one, 'A Very Fine Gift' and Other Writings on Theory, with Barthes's attempts to frame his lifelong curiosities in theoretical form, from his early musings on the sociology of literature through his high period of structuralism to his later reflections on Derrida. (shrink)
The late French literary and social critic's intimate journal, first published after his death and translated into English here for the first time, and three other autobiographical texts in which he explores his homosexuality are combined in one volume. Original.