Sep 15

Death of the Author

“For him, for us too, it is language which speaks, not the author; to write is, through a prerequisite impersonality (not at all to be confused with the castrating objectivity of the realist novelist), to reach that point where only language acts, ‘performs,’ and not ‘me’.”

  • This claim is interesting in that it seems to cast language as a sentient organism with the capability to communicate.  The fact is that, while it is true in this way that the author becomes disengaged from the words as soon as they are on the page, they forever remain the source.  There is no writing without the author.  One interprets that which exists without the input of the author, but the author remains the one from whose emotions were cast the ideas embodied in the text.  Let us for a moment consider The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.  A truly unique idea, this story of the evolution of a man into an insect is one that can be understood and interpreted in any applicable way by any individual, but to be interpreted in a way that is truly applicable to the world in an effective and encapsulating way, it is vital to understand the situations which would have put Kafka in a place where such a terrifying view of life was capable of describing the changes that were necessary in the world and in individuals.

Entertainment at use of authors.

  • I find it entertaining that to prove the unimportance of authors, Barthes spends a great deal of his piece discussing authors, their intentions, and their ideas in terms of their work.

Group writing

  • Barthes cites writing as a group as a method of eliminating the opinions and ideas of the author to a greater degree by eliminating the idea that a piece represents the views or mind of any single given person.

First person destruction

  • Barthes further cites the use of the first person in writing as a significant method of destruction of any connection between the author and their ideas and writing.  By writing in the first person, one succeeds in giving personality to the piece distinct from any human.  It is as if, as negated as an argument in the first part of this discussion, the text now is a living, independent representation of its own characters and ideas, and had the capability to continue without the knowledge or input of a single given author.  While this has always been the case for various pieces of literature/stories, the modern age of the Internet puts us in a situation where it is clearly obvious.

Analysis of multiple works

  • Here, yet again, is a reason to doubt Barthes’ claim that the author has no connection to his writing.  As an analyzer of writing, one often looks at various pieces by a single author, to explore the context in which it was written (if not intended).  It is important to acknowledge that, in the case of literature, these pieces often have nothing to do with each other.  Thus, it is necessary to analyze from the perspective of the author rather than simply that of the reader.

Definition of literature, not writing

  • Text is a very vague description.  As already mentioned, text today often involves much more than simply literature and/or books.  Today, it includes, importantly, the writing of the many through social media and other online mediums, in which author is the only important thing.  That which is written about is more often than not, completely irrelevant as a whole, but is interesting when considering the author, and one’s relationship to them.  Nevertheless, this class will not be focused on reading Facebook posts, so in many ways, my argument, too, is irrelevant.


  • Do we remember the book or the author?  We still live in a world of humans.  To completely disassociate writing from its creator is to disregard the human role in this creation.  To maintain the importance of human communication, this will be important.

“Something like the I declare of kings or the I sing of very ancient poets.”

“We know now that a text is… a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash.”

  • Haha.  How funny.  But is not true that nothing today is original.  Then is it right to claim that everything works without a source?

“There is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author.”

  • Conclusion.