Death of the Author and Birth of the Reader

Roland Barthes:  The Death of the Author

In The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes, Barthes discusses an author named Honore De Balzac and his novella Sarrasine. Barthes discusses the importance of this work to be an example of how the author has disconnected himself from his writing. Balzac “plays” with his characters and their gender. In Sarrasine Zambinella who is a woman disguises herself to be a man. Many readers are questioning Balzacs decision to have the main character a woman instead of a man. Why would Balzac do something like this? Is this somehow related to his personal experiences? Why was this hidden secret found out in this book about Zambinella? The readers question how this would relate to the writer whom wrote it and how the writer would know how to go about writing about a character of the opposite sex in such detail.  this he sets himself apart from the work.

Barthes later on discusses that writers must eliminate a readers idea of expectations from their works. A writer must be able to produce several different works that have no relation to one another. Barthes mentions that the writer must write in a state in which “they are unaware of what they are writing”. Writers should be able to create and invent new forms in their writing.This idea helps readers separate the writer from their texts. Barthes also ties into his ideas the term surrealism which is a “20th-century movement in art and literature that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example by the irrational juxtaposition of images.” Text is supposed to be complex and confusing and hard to figure out. It is not supposed to have one meaning to it nor, does it ever stop at a meaning that the reader has come up with.

Barthes believes that a work should be called a text and not a work. Surrealism is in texts because there are several different theories and concepts that can be brought out in a text. Text will always have many interpretations which are ongoing and never ending. The author does not lay out his/her thoughts on what he or she wanted a reader to interpret , it is through the reader themselves and the authors creativity that a text comes to life in a way that is seen as stereoscopic and complex.

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