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Context • Barthes took no clear philosophical line, he was aware of thinkers like Freud and Marx, but was happy to ignore the philosophical element - his work is often more creative/literary (word play etc), and not all he says if true or rationally argued, more of an experiment • Sur Racine (his most controversial work) - B. categorised all plays so they all had stuff in common o Used modern psychoanalytical line o Unifiying formulae to sum up all the plays o Irrelevant that the reading was formed by theories made long after the plays were written because it worked o Attitude towards language - Racine's work based on language to lead to action ('parler c'est faire'), and its misuse lead to tragedies, but not based on external things • Picard was scandalised by B.'s style of criticism, he preferred a scholarly traditional critique o Goes through Racine to show how B.'s theory doesn't work o Denounces 'jargon' o Says that critics must aim for clarity and B. is unclear o B.'s text isn't grounded in an objective truth, he says whatever he wants and just looks for evidence to support his ideas - 'un impressionisme idéologique qui est d'essence dogmatique' o Thought it could corrupt future readers of Racine • B. believed an author should be detached from his work, mustn't make links between the work and his 'unproductive' life - there are connections but they are not always reliable • La Mort de L'auteur - wrote this text in which he states that the authorial persona behind the work shouldn't decide how we read the text - author's intentions are not only irrelevant, but can limit diverse interpretations of the text - 'donner un Auteur à un texte…c'est fermer l'écriture' • Author = convenient tool for the critic to categorise the text and possibly make it less threatening - BUT B. says language has to be used by the author, but not to access a pre-linguistic persona - 'Linguistiquement, l'Auteur n'est jamais rien de plus que celui qui écrit, tout comme je n'est autre que celui qui dit je: le langage connaît un 'sujet', non une 'personne'…' • Hoped readers would see texts as internal systems
Critique et Vérité (1966) • Part of intellectual debate, so has to be read in terms of debates at the time, not as part of B.'s life - 'C'est donc au niveau des functions liiéraires…que l'histoire peut seulement se placer, et non au niveau des individus qui les ont exercées.' • Published after fierce debate on 'new criticism', this was B.'s manifesto on it, mainly in response to Picard's critique of Sur Racine
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