THE DEATH OF THE
THE AUTHOR AND CONTEXT
A work is explained through the author – as though they were
confiding in us all along.
Literature is centered on the author (including what has happened in
their life, what they enjoyed doing in their spare time, etc.)
This is generally what a lot of the time in literature classes is spent
doing – going over the author’s background and trying to find
connections between the text and the author.
Criticism also lies in this though
“criticism sill consists for the most part in saying that Baudelaire’s
work is the failure of Baudelaire the man, Van Gogh’s his madness,
Tchaikovsky’s his vice.”
What would happen if you removed the context? Would the piece
You should let your hand write while your mind is unaware of it.
Surrealists think this would take the author off of the pedestal. You
would be sufficiently disconnecting the mind of the author from the
words that are being written.
“suppressing the author in the interest of writing”
Does this really separate the author from the writing?
“language knows a ‘subject’, not a ‘person’, and this subject, empty
outside of the very enunciation which defines it, suffices to make
language ‘hold together’, suffices, that is to say, to exhaust it.”
Linguists showed that there is no need for someone to speak in
order for the words to have meaning. The idea of saying words out
loud is a moot point because the words don’t need to be said in
order to have meaning derived from them.
Spoken word poetry?
“a variety of writings, none of them original…the writer can only
imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original.”
You can never write something that hasn’t been written before, you
can only reword texts that already exist and put different ideas from
different texts together.
“life never does more than imitate the book, and the book itself is
only a tissue of signs, an imitation that is lost, infinitely deferred”
Goes back to the idea that everything is a substitute.
“The Author, when believed in, is always conceived of as the past of
his own book: book and author stand automatically on a single line
divided into a before and an after.”
You cannot read a book without the context of the author in this
case. Since the work would define a turning point, you would be
unable to distinguish the “before” author from the book which
produced the “after” author.
Modern writing does not have this line, instead the author exists
simultaneously with the text.
In this case you would be able to separate the author from the text
because there wasn’t a moment of change.
“Once the Author is removed, the claim to decipher a text comes
quite futile. To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text.”
You can’t really interpret a text without the context of the author.
Without the author, there would be no reason to do so/you wouldn’t
have the ability to find “meaning” behind the text.
Limits the text because if you look at a novel through the
framework of the author, you’re practically forced to see it from
that point of view.
If a text as completely liberated from its author, how would we then
interpret the text? Would the audience then become the limit that is
put on the text?
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE READER
“The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a
writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity
lies not in its origin but in its destination.”
The longevity of a text depends on the readers of that text.
It essentially does not matter who the author of the text is. What
matters is who reads the text and what the readers gain from the
Would this mean that once the particular group of reader’s die out,
the work dies out with them? Or would what the readers learned or
gained from the text live past when they die?
“WE ARE NOW BEGINNING TO LET OURSELVES BE
FOOLED NO LONGER BY THE ARROGANT
ANTIPHRASTICAL RECRIMINATIONS OF GOOD
SOCIETY IN FAVOR OF THE VERY THING IT SETS
ASIDE, IGNORES, SMOTHERS, OR DESTROYS; WE
KNOW THAT TO GIVE WRITING ITS FUTURE, IT IS
NECESSARY TO OVERTHROW THE MYTH: THE BIRTH
OF THE READER MUST BE AT THE COST OF THE
DEATH OF THE AUTHOR.”