Bad Quote for the Day: Authorial Death

Most of my “quotes for the day” are cited approvingly, but once in a while it’s worth calling attention to something so bad which couldn’t have been said better, if you take my meaning. Take Roland Barthes, who, like Paul Ricouer around the same time (the 70s), claimed that written texts inevitably become detached from their authors’ original intent, and that such is a cause for rejoice:

“Writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing… This disconnection occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, and writing begins.” (Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author”; in Image-Music-Text, p 143)

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3 thoughts on “Bad Quote for the Day: Authorial Death

  1. Ah yes, Barthes the Incorrigible. Back when I had to write a response paper on him for Intro to Grad Studies, I defined his view of authorship as an “amalgam of paratextual roadkill,” and as far as I’m concerned that defines his prose just as well!BTW, I’m new here– found your blog via your post on Brian McHale (a prof of mine) and literary hoaxes. I like what I’ve read so far.

  2. Sure, our writing can become detached from our original intentions. But so can our speech. But I think many people write with integrity.I don’t put a lot of stock in what Bartes wrote, at least if he wrote what he intended to mean.🙂

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