Meaning In Roland Barthes's The Death Of The Author

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In his famous essay, The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes examines the relationship between an author and their work. He argues that the reader determines the meaning of a text, and that meaning is generated in an active reading process, rather than the reader finding a hidden meaning from the author that was within the text to begin with. Barthes describes the writer as a “scriptor” or someone who writes simply to engage in the act of writing, but not in the creation of meaning (52). For Barthes, the meaning of the text is constructed through the performance of language, an active process of reading and creating meaning. This approach to literature focuses on the text rather than the Author, allowing for a more open interpretation of a…show more content…
Applying Barthes theory to his own work, one can then see how Barthes contradicts himself: He is instructing the reader to find meaning in the words of the text as an active process, but in the very act of his instruction, Barthes is admitting guilt to authorial intent. He is requesting the reader change their beliefs to benefit in the reader, and if his essay is taught in the Literature classroom, what separate’s theory from literature? Surely both subjects are inextricably tied, a story or narrative in a novel contains the same intellectual take-away as a well-written piece of theory, and if language does indeed act in a performative naure for the reader in a literary text, then it must also do so in a theoretical text. Yet Barthes does not allow that process to occur, instead, the reader is tied to an idea produced from Barthes idioculture, and that idea or thesis in Barthes theory, becomes an objective intention. Even when Professors agree upon a texts meaning, the consensus in itself is a collection of subjective interpretations that combine to form an objective criteria for teaching the
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