A Lover's Discourse (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Is this the same Roland Barthes who proselytized a dry, cold-blooded style in Writing Degree Zero? Is this the remote guru of semiology and structuralist rhetoric who announced the demise of the autonomous ego? This latest book by the Frenchman picking up the intellectual torch long carried by Sartre represents an unabashed shift towards a patently sensuous subject (in the sense of topic and psychology) and style.
Barthes couches his new orientation in a method honed in The Pleasure of the Text (1975) and Roland Barthes (1977): an alphabetical organization of fragments, introduced here by a prefatory guide, the first section of which explains the necessity for the book. The next outlines its format, presenting three subheadings: figures, order, and references. Each of the eighty fragments has as its subject a figure (whose first letter relegates its position in the whole) ranging from “to be engulfed” (s’abîmer) to “will-to-possess” (vouloirsaisir). Central and longest among the figures (including Adorable, Waiting, To Write, Gradiva, Scene, and Suicide) stands I-Love-You. Barthes claims not to use “figure” rhetorically—although many figures seem to be rhetorical tropes as well as dramatic stances—but in a “gymnastic” or a “choreographic” sense. He compares the lover to an athlete, an orator, or a statue; the “figure,” an economical affective articulation, he maintains,...
(The entire section is 1834 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Book World. October 29, 1978, p. E6.
Booklist. LXXV, September 1, 1978, p. 15.
Kirkus Reviews. XLVI, June 15, 1978, p. 669.
Library Journal. CIII, August, 1978, p. 1510.
New Leader. LXI, October 23, 1978, p. 14.
Publisher’s Weekly. CCXIV, July 10, 1978, p. 123.
(The entire section is 30 words.)