“The Death of the Author”
November 12, 1915 – March 26, 1980
Author – Human person
The image of literature is centered on the
author's personal life rather than the text or
work itself (Barthes disagreed)
"Baudelair's work is the failure of
Baudelaire the man."
For Mallarme from France, “it is language
which speaks, not the author”
By accepting the principle and the experience
of a collective writing, surrealism helped
secularize the image of the Author.
The author is the same as the letter “I”, a
The Author and Writing
The relationship between the author and the book
can be divided into a before and an after.
“the Author is supposed to feed the book - that is, he
pre-exists it, thinks, suffers, lives for it”
The modern writer (scriptor) is born simultaneously
with his text.
Thus, every text is eternally written “here and
The Text and an Author
The text is a tissue of citations (quotations),
resulting from the thousand sources of
The writer can only imitate what is anterior,
“His only power is to combine the different
kinds of writing, to oppose some by others, so
as never to sustain himself by just one of
No author beneath the text
“Once the Author is discovered, the text is explained”
In a multiple writing, everything is liberated, but
nothing is deciphered for there is no underlying
Multiple writing has an ultimate meaning: it
liberates counter-theological activity, an activity
that is “properly revolutionary” since “to refuse
to arrest meaning is”, in the end, “to refuse God
and his hypostases, reason, science, law."
The Death of the Author
The unity of a text is not in its origin (Author),
it is in its destination (listener or reader)
It is the listener or the reader who
understands each written words.
“The birth of the reader must be at
the cost of the death of the
The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes