Please compare and contrast three elements from Roland Barthes’s philosophical essays with Basho’s three travelogues. Choose at least three of Barthes’s essays to build bridges between the twentieth and the seventeenth centuries.

A bridge could be built between Roland Barthes’s twentieth-century philosophical essays and Basho’s seventeenth-century travel diaries by discussing the importance of objects, the secondary importance of clothing, and photography.

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One of Roland Barthes ’s essays that might help you build a bridge between the twentieth century and the seventeenth century (i.e., between Barthes and Basho) is entitled “The World as Object.” Using Dutch painting, Barthes puts forward the idea that the world is a tableau of objects. Even the...

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One of Roland Barthes’s essays that might help you build a bridge between the twentieth century and the seventeenth century (i.e., between Barthes and Basho) is entitled “The World as Object.” Using Dutch painting, Barthes puts forward the idea that the world is a tableau of objects. Even the rubble depicted in a painting is a type of an object. It is something that is, according to Barthes, “clearly defined.”

You could argue that Barthes’s philosophy on objects is reflected in Basho’s travel diaries or travelogues. You could claim that what Basho describes in his diaries is a world composed of objects. The horse, the clouds, and his bamboo hat could all be considered objects. Even the crumbling mountains could be called an object. They link to the rubble that Barthes brings up in his essay.

Another interesting way to build a bridge between Barthes and Basho is to consider how Barthes’s thoughts on costumes link to Basho’s personal clothing choices. If you read “The Diseases of Costume,” you might find out that Barthes’s philosophy placed the costume in a secondary role in the context of plays. He did not think that it was appropriate for the clothes to draw attention away from the “staged action.”

As for Basho’s personal style, at the start of Oku no Hosomichi, he describes his torn pants and his bamboo hat. These aren’t ostentatious clothing items. Maybe Basho is intentionally keeping his clothing simple so as not to take the focus away from the main action—what he witnesses on his travels.

For a third link between Basho and Barthes, you might want to find a philosophical essay in which Barthes expounds on photography. You might notice a relationship between pictures and the images in Basho’s diaries.

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