How can Barthes's essay "Death of the Author" be applied to Pirandello's play Six Characters in Search of an Author?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pirandello's play was first published in 1921, while Barthes's influential essay on the death of the author first appeared after more than forty years, in 1967. In spite of the differences in the historical and cultural context as well as the two authors' ideological positions, we could apply Barthes's ideas that the author is merely a "scriptor" whose text exists independently from him/her to Pirandello's play. The fact that the characters of the play surprisingly claim to be looking for thier author comes close to Barthes's idea that a text exists separately from its author who is not to be considered the authority on his/her works. The meaning of a text, therefore, is not to be found in the author's intentions as it is constantly renegotiated with every different reading. In addition, by pointing to the fictionality of the play, the characters in Pirandello's oeuvre challenge the status of the author among the audience, inviting the public to question the action that is occuring on stage.

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