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author, death of


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


A theme in P oststructuralism decisively stated in Roland B arthes's “The death of the author” (1967). Barthes identified a cultural investment in the author as explanatory source of T exts : the idea of the author-as-God originating meaning, against which he stressed the linguistic reality of the author – created only in language – and the plurality of any text – space of the interaction of a number of W ritings . Recognition of this is the condition of a modern literary practice (Barthes cites Mallarmé's desire to yield the initiative to words). The death of the author brings the liberation of the reader, no longer constrained to the authorial fiction of the single voice in mastery of its text. Subsequently, Barthes envisaged a possible “amicable” return of the author (made up in reading as a novelistic figure, a set of textual “charms”) and explored ways in which the author's I might be written as itself a text (the “person” taken apart in writing, removed from all assertion of some expressive unity of “self”). While reiterating some of Barthes's emphases, Michel F oucault's “What is an author?” (1969) proposed the study of a historically variable “author-function” characterizing the existence and circulation of certain D iscourses within a society. Such a study leads to questions of authorization – who may figure as an author, which texts have authority, how are discourses ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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