Influence

(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

Barthes is one of those rare individuals who made significant contributions to many fields. He was one of the first to see the applicability of semiology to a wide range of topics. He was not the first to discover how the structures of linguistics could be applied to all of the human sciences, but he was one of its most elegant practitioners. S/Z is one of the finest and fullest structuralist analyses extant. Furthermore, Barthes pointed the way for poststructuralism and showed how literary criticism could reveal not unity but fragmentation. He also never lost sight of the importance of emotion in literature and life and of the dangers of completing and fixing any system of thought. He freed criticism from a narrow academic view and led it to the multiplicity of voices it currently enjoys.