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Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


organizing principles composed of B inary oppositions : a fundamental term in N arratology . Derived from the work of Claude L éavi-strauss on myths, narratological theory specifies that codes function to organize the binary oppositions which constitute the functioning of language. They therefore comprise a homogenizing operation, one which seeks to render meaning into easily understood categories. S/Z (1974) by Roland B arthes is perhaps the literary critical work which most exhaustively employs codes as the foundation of an interpretative method. He reads Balzac's short story of the same name in terms of five codes: H ermeneutics (formal elements which are organized into binary oppositions such as question/answer): semes (elements of meaning which are constitutive of pieces of T ext such as characters): the S ymbolic (plurality of meaning as it is organized in the process of interpretation): the proaieretic (sequences of actions, or plot); and cultural (references to types of knowledge). For Barthes, the interweaving of these five codes is what constitutes the text, with no single code achieving any kind of overall preponderance. He reads through Balzac's story, sorting it into categories which are overdetermined by these codes, interspersing it with his own critical text. In so doing, he classifies pieces of text as elements of the codes. Nevertheless, there are points ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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