Barthes: A Biography

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Polity Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 2.0 inches | 0.02 pounds
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About the Author

Tiphaine Samoyault is Professor of Comparative Literature at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3.


"Barthes, like no other modern writer, invented a critical form that was "live" in every sense, where the labor of writing criticism acquired animate breath and pulse as it entered Barthes' chronicle of aesthetic preparation for a Vita Nova, a new life, a novel, a reading of ideologies, images, voices, cultural myths and above all literary texts. Such a self-writing subject poses a daunting challenge to the biographer. But Tiphaine Samoyault has risen to it, with a magisterial life of Roland Barthes, enriched by new archival material and her own peerless talents as both writer and literary critic." - Emily Apter, New York University

"Tiphaine Samoyault's outstanding biography of Roland Barthes allows us to meet him in person, as it were, as a lively, seductive French intellectual. At the same time, Samoyault offers us a splendid introduction to Barthes' ground-breaking writings in so many fields, from literary theory to meditations about the meaning of human existence." - Thomas Pavel, The University of Chicago

'While offering the most detailed and elegantly written interpretation to date of the life and works of its remarkable subject, this book is much more than a traditional intellectual biography. Typhaine Samoyault's masterful, multilayered and, at times, lyrical narrative captures Roland Barthes the person and writer, essayist and scholar, and depicts him in his time and with his contemporaries, family and friends, colleagues and lovers, to be sure. Her phenomenal study tracks the doing and undoing of a great writer and thinker, a witness of what is still, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, very much our own time and cultural, indeed, political predicament. In so doing, she offers a valuable testimony of a person facing opportunities and challenges whose enduring lesson and bitter sweetness we have all learned to appreciate and savour.' - Hent de Vries, The Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University

The New York Review of Books