Roland Barthes

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Roland Barthes [ʁɔlɑ̃ baʁt] (born November 12, 1915 in Cherbourg , † March 26, 1980 in Paris ) was a French philosopher , writer and literary critic of the 20th century.

Barthes is considered to be one of the most prominent scientists in the field of structuralist semiotics or semiology. He used the methods of structuralism and deconstruction , but also psychoanalysis , to investigate modern social phenomena such as texts , films , photography , fashion , advertising and love . By radicalizing the methods of structuralism, Barthes became one of the founders of poststructuralism . As a critic of contemporary, especially literary objects (see e.g. Racine ), he often sparked sharp disputes.

During his academic career, Barthes was mainly associated with the Collège de France and the elite university École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris .

Life and influences

In 1915, during the First World War , Roland Gérard Barthes was born as the first son of Henriette Barthes, née Binger, and the ensign Louis Barthes. He lost his father at an early age, who was killed in a sea battle in the North Sea in October 1916. His mother moved with him to live with his grandmother and aunt on his father's side in Bayonne in southwest France. There he spent his childhood in simple circumstances. In About Myself , he reflected on the importance of his childhood: “What fascinates me most about the past is my childhood; when I look at it, it alone does not give me regrets about the time that has passed. ”In 1924 the family moved to Paris and continued to suffer from the difficult financial situation. In 1927 his half-brother Michel was born.

In Paris he attended the Lycée Montaigne (1924–1930) and later the renowned Lycée Louis-le-Grand (1930–1934), where he was taught philosophy. On May 10, 1934, he suffered a hemorrhage with a lesion in his left lung. In the following years he stayed repeatedly in sanatoriums for cures.

In 1935 he enrolled at the Sorbonne for Classical Literature. In 1937 he was released from military service and worked as a French editor in Debrecen (Hungary) during the summer . In 1938 he traveled to Greece with the “Group Antikes Theater”, which he had co-founded at the Sorbonne.

In 1939 he obtained his license in classical philology and became a substitute teacher in Biarritz in southwest France. In 1940 he worked as a teacher at the Voltaire and Buffon grammar schools in Paris and wrote his thesis on Greek tragedy. Barthes took singing lessons from Charles Panzéra . In October 1941 he suffered a relapse of pulmonary tuberculosis , which necessitated stays in sanatoriums. In 1943 he gave lectures on literature, music and theater in the sanatoriums.

Until 1947, his lung ailment relapsed again and again. He continued to live with his mother and stepbrother under difficult financial circumstances in the Paris apartment. From 1948 to 1949 he worked as a library assistant and taught at the French Institute and at the University of Bucharest . He spent 1949 and 1950 in Egypt as a lecturer at the University of Alexandria ; there he met Algirdas Julien Greimas know. The encounter led to both an intense intellectual exchange and a relationship. At the end of 1950 he returned to Paris and worked in the Direction générale for cultural relations until 1952. From 1952 to 1954 he did an internship at the CNRS in the field of lexicology .

In 1953 his first book Degré zéro de l'écriture was published by Seuil. From 1954 to 1962 he was engaged in various teaching and consulting activities. In 1962 he was appointed director of the École Pratique des Hautes Études . In 1977 his commercially successful book Fragments of a Language of Love was published in the original, in which he discreetly and playfully reveals his homosexuality . Barthes received the chair for literary semiology at the Collège de France . On October 25th, his mother, with whom he had lived continuously until then, died.

In 1977, like around sixty other intellectuals, he signed an appeal for the decriminalization of pedophilia , which appeared in the Liberation and Le Monde newspapers. The appeal was initiated by the pedophile writer Gabriel Matzneff .

In 1980 Roland Barthes' last book was published: The bright chamber . It is a farewell gesture to his mother, from whom he has always kept his homosexuality secret. On February 25, 1980, he was involved in an accident with a van, the consequences of which he died a month later on March 26 in a Paris hospital. He was buried in his mother's grave in Urt.

The theater was of great importance to Barthes throughout his life . Even as a schoolboy, he worked in a theater group. Dareios was one of his most important roles. His thesis at the university dealt with the Greek tragedy . In Essais critiques 1964, the avant-garde theater is his subject. Not only Brecht's acting, but above all reflections on “spectator art” and drafts of an “ aesthetics of pleasure” are often an object of his work in Barthes' texts.

His linguistic and semiotic work can be divided into three different phases of development. Initially, the writings of Gide , Marx and Brecht were formative for Barthes' work on the myths of everyday life ( Mythologies, 1957). This was followed by the influences of de Saussure , Jakobson and Hjelmslev . In order not to let the semiology end in a dogmatic science, the approach followed to take into account the results of sociology , philosophy and psychology in his work. He was inspired by the work of Lacan .

Nevertheless, dividing Barthes' work into phases is also problematic. What is remarkable about his publications is that he devotes himself to new tasks as soon as his work is taken up and further developed by others. According to Antje Landmann, this is a method of relocating and changing location (Barthes: dépaysement ). For Stephen Heath, the demythologizing principle of dépaysement is of “central force” for Barthes' work. Jonathan Culler sees this as an escapism that makes it easy for Barthes to evade criticism.

Barthes was also a music enthusiast, especially as a pianist and composer. His friend Cy Twombly inspired his passion for painting .

Method and style

Barthes' post-structuralist and anti-logocentric works, especially in his late work, can hardly be classified within traditional forms of knowledge production. He himself rejected classifications according to the influences of authors and colleagues and according to professions, scientific directions and schools . He did not want to confirm the belief in the intentionality of the author. He preferred to call himself “sujet impur”, impure subject .

With his work, Barthes has not only made a great contribution to recognizing how the creation of truth , meaning and sense in language , text, and discourse works and structures itself for everyone involved. The resulting possibility of reflection and criticism (for example of social myths ) also has consequences for Barthes' own theoretical work. This should not degenerate into a “ doxa ” or a fixed teaching or end as such, but rather open up something to the readers. The reader should - comparable to Brecht's spectator art - not only remain watching and agreeing, but should also be given the opportunity to write while reading. This development is already indicated in The Death of the Author ( La mort de l'auteur , 1968). Barthes uses forms and possibilities of theoretical work, which are particularly accentuated not to deliver a finished product, but even as a writer in the process of production without a previously defined goal for all participants - i.e. also for the reader who himself is involved in the process the production - to remain perceptible.

To do this, he expanded the subjects of his investigation. Barthes relates a text not only to the arrangement and meaning of letters on a piece of paper or to the form and content of linguistic expression in the conventional sense, but also takes into account, for example, music, photography or painting - in short: his occupation is directed to everything that happens or does not happen in the process before, in and after the designation and meaning, its spaces and those involved and not involved. The aim of this emphasis on the process is again and again to question traditional categories of thought and instead to develop productive impulses.

This is how Barthes deals with the developments of his own categories when he develops concepts for the analysis of photographs in his essay on photography The bright chamber ( La chambre claire , 1980) in the first part of the book, which he exaggerates again in the second part using intimate approaches and shaken. The most important photo of his investigation is immediately the only one that he only describes and does not print in this volume. An important approach here is u. a. the irritation, the fragment , the development of reading forms that initially move away from “meaning”, “sense” and “understanding” - most clearly in the essay Die Lust am Text ( Le plaisir du texte, 1973 ) - the distinction between geno -Text and pheno-text. "Barthes' texts themselves are exemplary of the discourses that start moving, continue, and continue when looking at pictures or listening to music."

The ambiguity of his own texts is important to him, and the noise of the language becomes a key word in his texts, "desire circulates and not domination". In his writing, he is concerned with the placelessness of language, with atopy - a way of writing that became somewhat famous in the essay volume Fragments of a Language of Love from 1977.

Philippe Roger is of the opinion that the “key word of the spiral ” can be used to describe Barthe's entire work methodically. In Barthe's work in his late work, the criticism and awareness of a "spirit that is becoming independent" is reflected. Against this independence, Barthes reminds of its counterpart, the body. This is how Gabriele Röttger-Denker describes "the maxim of his philosophy: Écrire le corps - writing the body".

The concept of myth

The expanded concept of myth , which not only means a well-known story, but also the unconscious and collective meanings for a society that it “derives from a semiotic process”, is attributed to Barthes in the sciences.

In Mythen des Alltags (1964), in French in 1957, he succeeds in analyzing modern and ancient myths (such as the human condition using the example of the exhibition The Family of Man ) as a form of naturalization and essentialization : “The myth of the conditio humana is based on a very old mystification that has always consisted of putting nature at the bottom of history. ”After analyzing numerous everyday examples of myth in the form of short essays, Barthes concludes the justification for a scientific approach to the analysis of the Myths and here develops the basis for critical semiotics .

The myth is a statement

According to the etymology of the word, Barthes states: “the myth is a statement ”, more precisely: “a system of communication, a message . [...] One sees from this that the myth cannot be an object , a concept or an idea ; it is a way of meaning, a form. "

For a definition of what the myth is, according to Barthes, the different meanings of the word myth are irrelevant: “You can counter a hundred other meanings of the word myth against me. I tried to define things , not words. ”Barthes first describes the form and later for“ this form the historical limits, the conditions of its use ”, in which“ society must be reintroduced into it ”.

In order to recognize the myth, it is not necessary, "to want to make a substantial distinction [...]" between the mythical objects - because not determine the properties, which the myth is, but the way how the objects are addressed: “Since the myth is a statement, everything that a discourse can account for can become a myth. The myth is not defined by the object of his message, but by the way in which he pronounces it. "

The myth has no content restrictions. Almost everything can be provided with a statement, with a myth and socially appropriated: “There are formal limits to the myth, but no content-related ... Every object in the world can go from a closed, silent existence to a discussed one, for appropriation by the Society pass over the open state, because no - natural or unnatural - law forbids speaking of things. "

Society is needed so that things get meaning and are no longer just matter . In addition to the purely material side of things, the statement about things adds a social use to things: “A tree is a tree. Certainly! But a tree pronounced by Minou Drouet is no longer quite a tree, it is a decorated tree that is adapted to a certain consumption, that is provided with literary pleasures, with revolts, with images, in short: with a social one Use that adds to pure matter. ”It is only when things are addressed in society that they become objects of myth:“ Of course not everything is said at the same time. Some objects only fall prey to the mythical word for a moment, then they disappear again, others take their place and arrive at the myth. "

The myth transforms “ reality ” into a “state of the art”. A fundamental condition for the myth is its temporal and historical determination, because myths do not inevitably arise and do not arise from what society imagines as “ nature ”: “Are there inevitably suggestive objects [...]? Certainly not: one can imagine very old myths, but there are no eternal ones; for only human history allows the real to pass into the state of the statement, and it alone determines the life and death of mythical language. Far back or not, mythology can only have a historical basis, for myth is a proposition chosen by history ; he cannot emerge from the 'nature' of things. "

The myth as a message can be conveyed in a wide variety of forms and via a wide variety of media : “It can therefore very well be other than oral, it can consist of written or representations. The written discourse, the sport, but also the photography, the film, the reportage, the acting and the advertisement , all this can be the carrier of the mythical statement. ”Accordingly, the myth cannot be determined by“ its object ”and the matter of the object. “Because any matter can be arbitrarily endowed with meaning.” Barthes cites the “arrow that is presented and means challenge” as an example. This transfer is, regardless of the material shape of the object, "also a statement".

Barthes sees this generalized conception of language , which does not only refer to alphabetic characters , as “justified by the history of scripts themselves”, because “long before the invention of our alphabet , objects like the kipu of the Incas or drawings like picture scripts were real statements ". At this point Barthes addresses the question of the scientific approach to the analysis of myths, and whether the analysis of myths can be the subject of linguistics: “That is not to say, however, that the mythical proposition must be treated like language. Myth belongs in a science that goes beyond linguistics ; it belongs in semiology. "

The myth as a secondary semiological system

According to Barthes, a “semiological system” consists - in contrast to Saussure , for example - of three different terms : the significant (the signifier in Saussure), the meaning (the signified ) and the sign “which is the associative totality of the first two terms. "

Barthes explains this three-digit number using the example of the rose:

“Think of a bouquet of roses: I let it mean my passion. Isn't there just one important and one important, the rose and my passion? Not even that, in truth there are only the 'passionate' roses here. But in the field of analysis there are three terms, because these passionate roses can be broken down into roses and passion, and rightly so. One, like the other, existed before they combined and formed this third object, the sign. As little as I can separate the roses from the message they carry in the field of experience, just as little in the field of analysis can I equate roses as significant with roses as signs: the significant is empty, the sign is fulfilled, there is a meaning . "

The myth consists of a chain of semiological systems. Viewed analytically, a simple system forms the sign from the meaning and the meaning, whereby the sign results as an associative whole. The myth already contains the first sign of a semiological system, only here it functions as something significant in the second system. This is the central definition in myths of everyday life :

“In the myth one finds the [...] three-dimensional scheme: the significant, the significant and the sign. But the myth is a special system in that it is built on a semiological chain that preceded it; it is a secondary semiological system . What is a sign in the first system (that is, the associative whole of a concept and an image) is simply significant in the second. […] Whether it is actual or pictorial writing, the myth sees in it a totality of signs, a global sign, the final term of a first semiological chain. And it is precisely this ending term that becomes the first or partial term of the enlarged system that it establishes. Everything happens as if the myth displaced the formal system of the first meaning by one notch. "

It is not important for the myth whether its statement is expressed in writing, photographically, artistically or in the material form of a building, a plant or a rite :

“One must remember here that the materials of the mythical statement (language, photography, painting, poster, rite, object, etc.), however different they may be at first, are reduced to the pure function of meaning as soon as the myth does detected. The myth sees them as one and the same raw material. Their unity consists in the fact that they are all reduced to the simple status of an expression. "

Using the advertisement image , Barthes later examined three levels of messages in the rhetoric of the image : "a linguistic message, an encoded iconic ( symbolic ) and an unencoded iconic (literal)."

In Die Sprache der Mode ( Système de la mode, 1967 ), Barthes deepens his analysis of metalanguage with the help of Louis Hjelmslev's theory by defining connotational language and can thus “relate any number of levels to one another.” The connotational language is the metalanguage in the Construction comparable: "A sign of the first system (a black dress, which means a festive occasion) becomes the signifier of the second system, whose signified forms the fashion ideology or fashion rhetoric."

Ethical point of view

In the margins of his investigation of the myth, as it were in a footnote, Barthes formulates his ethical aspects in relation to the myth. According to this, “what is disturbing in myth is precisely that its form is motivated.” If there were such a thing as “health” of language, this would be justified “by the arbitrariness of the sign”. Every myth, however, has a motivating form, meaning is transformed into form, deformed, robbed of its history: “What is repulsive in myth is its refuge in a false nature, is the luxury of meaningful forms, such as those objects that show their usefulness through one decorate natural exterior glow. The will to make the meaning difficult by the whole guarantee of nature evokes a kind of disgust: the myth is too pure, and precisely its motivation is too much in it. ”For this aversion which the myth generates for Barthes brings he finds a correspondence from the field of art that alternates between nature and anti-nature : “This disgust is the same that I feel in the face of arts that do not want to choose between nature and anti-nature and the first as ideal and use the second as a savings. From an ethical point of view, it shows lowliness to want to play in both areas at the same time. "

Counter-myth: Japan and "sensual reading"

Towards the end of the 1960s, Barthes focused on researching the conditions of the “possibilities of what can be said and thought”, that is, on the “ constitution of the structures of meaning. [...] Since you cannot take a stand outside of your own language, you first have to research the given structures, the language and the ways of speaking, in order to be able to rethink your own culture from there . ”As a semiologist, he turns to the critique of Sign to itself. In his notes after a trip to Japan , he created a “counter-myth” with L'Empire des signes (1970) in order to “reshape and thereby disempower the myths of the West”.

The method he uses is that of pluralization and decentration . For his counter-myth, he does not describe Japan as something objective or as an ideal , but rather as “what Japan triggered in him”, and summarizes this story in a fiction :

“I can also record a certain number of features (a word with graphical and linguistic reference) somewhere in the world ( there ) without any claim to represent or analyze a reality (this is precisely what the Western discourse does with preference) and from these Trains form a system as you wish. And I'll call this system Japan . "

The means of decentering is also evident in the composition of L'Empire des signes itself: Barthes parodies “the beginnings of anthropological photography at the same time ” by combining image and text through a “serial arrangement of different photo portraits [...] to form a text-theoretical reading “Crossed.

In S / Z Barthes criticizes the traditionally preferred position of the signified over the material bearer of meaning, the signifier . In L'Empire des signes he turns even more vehemently against the “supposedly true, inner meaning”, against the instrumentalization of the signifiers. Using the example of haiku , he contrasts the meaningful reading of the West with “sensual reading”. It is not “Barthes' aim to oppose meaning with a non-meaning as a counterpoint , but rather he shows how the concentration of the West can be diverted from the supposedly“ meaningful ”core. So he does not directly oppose the Occidental ethic of meaning by simply pleading for the opposite, but aims to liquefy the concept of 'meaning' so that it becomes intangible. "

As he makes clear in his biography, meaning can “certainly disappear into nothing”, but non-meaning is the “worst of all meanings”. Against this non-sense he poses the concept of decentration, as he explains it in the haiku : Contrary to the attempts at interpretation of the western kind, “whether deciphering , formalization or tautology ... which are intended for us to penetrate the meaning , i. H. to break into it "could therefore only miss the haiku, because the reading work associated with it is to keep the language in suspension and not to provoke it."

In Western thinking , the observer aims to mirror himself in the foreign. With his book L'Empire des signes , Barthes is about as good as emptying this mirror . This form of decentration is opposed to western narcissism : “En Occident, le miroir est un objet essentiellement narcissique: l'homme ne pense le miroir que pour s'y regarder; mais en Orient, semble-t-il, le miroir est vide; [...] le miroir ne capte que d'autres miroirs, et cette réflexion infinie est le vide meme. ”In the section“ Without language ”, he records a different perception of the stranger, which does the traveler well because he is in the“ rustling mass of an unknown language "creates a" delicate shield ":" What peace and quiet abroad ! There I am safe from stupidity, ordinaryness, vanity and urbane behavior, from nationality and normality . The unknown language [...] whose pure meaning I still perceive, [...] pulls me into its artificial emptiness, [...] I live in an interspace that is devoid of any full meaning. ”On the other hand, the bourgeois questioning “ How are Did you get along with the language there? ” As the myth and ideology (“ ideological claim ”) of Western thought, which is cloaked by“ practical questions: there is only communication in language ”.

Due to the 'expansion of the signifiers' in “abroad” / “Japan”, which for the traveler is “so much further than the language”, there is an “exchange of signs despite the opacity of the language and sometimes even because of it”, what Barthes describes as “wealth”, “captivating agility and subtlety”: “The reason is that the body there is free from hysteria and narcissism [...] the whole body [...] has a kind of childlike chat with you the perfect mastery of the codes removes everything regressive and infantile . ”Barthes explains this using the example of an appointment:“ Making an appointment (with signs, sketches and names) certainly takes a whole hour; but at this hour [...] one recognized, tasted and absorbed the whole body of the other person, he (without any real intention) spread his own story, his own text. "

The simulacrum

According to Barthes, the term “ simulacrum ” reconstructs its object through selection and recombination and thus re-constructs it. The result is a "world that is similar to the first one, but does not want to copy it, but rather makes it visible".

“The aim of every structuralist activity […] is to reconstitute an 'object' in such a way that this reconstitution reveals the rules according to which it functions (what its 'functions' are). The structure is actually only a simulacrum of the object, but a targeted, 'interested' simulacrum, since the imitating object brings out something that remains invisible in the natural object or, if you prefer, incomprehensible. "

- Roland Barthes : The structuralist activity . In: Kursbuch . May 5, 1966, pp. 190-196.

See also


  • Le degré zéro de l'écriture , Ed. du Seuil, Paris 1953
  • Michelet par lui-même , Seuil, Paris 1954
    • German: Michelet , translated by Peter Geble, European Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-434-00702-4
  • Mythologies , Seuil, Paris 1957
  • Sur Racine , Seuil: Paris 1963; last reissued by Éd. du Seuil, Éd. Points, Paris 2014, ISBN 978-2-7578-4061-0 ; Collection of essays, containing the essays
    • L'Homme racinien
    • Dire Racine
    • Histoire ou littérature?
      • German: literature or history , translated by Helmut Scheffel, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1969, ISBN 3-518-12471-4
  • (1964) Essais critiques , Seuil: Paris
  • (1964) La Tour Eiffel , Delpire: Paris.
  • (1965) Éléments de semiologie , Communications 4, Seuil: Paris.
  • (1966) Critique et Vérité , Seuil: Paris
  • (1967) Système de la mode , Seuil: Paris.
  • (1970) L'Empire des signes , Skira: Paris.
  • (1970) S / Z , Seuil: Paris.
  • (1971) Sade, Fourier, Loyola , Seuil: Paris.
  • (1972) Le Degré zéro de l'écriture suivi de Nouveaux essais critiques , Seuil: Paris.
  • (1973) Le plaisir du texte , Seuil: Paris.
  • (1975) Roland Barthes , Seuil: Paris.
  • (1977) Poétique du récit , Seuil: Paris.
  • (1977) Fragments d'un discours amoureux , Seuil: Paris
  • (1978) Préface, La Parole Intermédiaire, F. Flahaul t, Seuil: Paris
  • (1980) Recherche de Proust , Editions du Seuil: Paris.
  • (1980) La chambre claire: note sur la photographie , Seuil: Paris, 1980.
  • (1982) Literature et réalité , Seuil: Paris.
  • (1993) Œuvres complètes , Seuil: Paris.
  • (2009) Carnets du voyage en Chine , Éditions Christian Bourgois: Paris
  • (2009) Journal de deuil , Seuil / Imecs: Paris.
  • (2010) Le lexique de l'auteur: séminaire à l'École Pratique des Hautes Études 1873 - 1974 , Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 2010, ISBN 978-2-02-061851-9

German translations

  • Incidents . Translated by Hans-Horst Henschen . Dieterich, Mainz 1988
  • Timeline. Translated by Mira Köller. Merve Verlag , Berlin 2003
  • Cy Twombly. Translated by Walter Seitter . Merve Verlag , Berlin 1983, ISBN 3-88396-033-0
  • The neuter: Lecture at the Collège de France 1977 - 1978 . Translated from the French by Horst Brühmann. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-518-12377-7
  • The realm of signs . Translated from the French by Michael Bischoff . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-518-11077-2
  • The semiological adventure . From the French by Dieter Hornig. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1988
  • The Eiffel Tower . Translated from the French by Helmut Scheffel . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2015, ISBN 978-3-518-46632-2
  • The oncoming and the dull sense . From the French by Dieter Hornig. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1990, ISBN 3-518-11367-4
  • The bright chamber . Comment on photography . Translated from the French by Dietrich Leube. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-518-57731-X
  • The pleasure of text . Translated from the French by Ottmar Ette. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 1974
  • The noise of language (Critical Essays IV), translated from French by Dieter Hornig, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2006
  • The language of fashion . Translated from the French by Horst Brühmann. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1985
  • The death of the author . In: Fotis Jannidis (Ed.): Texts on the theory of authorship . Stuttgart, 2000.
  • The preparation of the novel . Translated from the French by Horst Brühmann. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2008
  • Elements of semiology . Translated by Eva Moldenhauer . Syndicate, Frankfurt am Main 1979
  • Fragments of a language of love . Translated from the French by Hans-Horst Henschen and Horst Brühmann. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1984
  • Criticism and truth . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1967
  • Lesson / Leçon . Translated by Helmut Scheffel. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-518-11030-6
  • Michelet . Translator: Peter Geble. European Publishing House 1980
  • Rhetoric of the image . In: Alternative . No. 54/1967
  • S / Z . From the French by Jürgen Hoch. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-518-28287-5
  • Sade, Fourier, Loyol a. Translated from the French by Maren Sell and Jürgen Hoch. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1974
  • Writings on the theater . Alexander, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-89581-063-0
  • Diary of grief . Translated by Horst Brühmann. Hanser, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-446-23498-7
  • About myself . Translated by Jürgen Hoch. Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 1978, ISBN 3-88221-206-3
  • What sings to me who I hear the song in my body . Translator: Peter Geble. Merve, Berlin 1979, ISBN 3-88396-008-X .
  • Variations sur l'écriture / Variations on writing , French - German, translated by Hans-Horst Henschen, with an afterword by Hanns-Josef Ortheil (= Excerpta classica , Volume 2). Dieterich, Mainz 2006, ISBN 978-3-87162-064-5 .
  • How to live together . Translated from the French by Horst Brühmann. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 3-518-12402-1 .
  • What is sport The sport and the men. Translated by Hélène and Gunter Gebauer , Berlin: Brinkmann & Bose , 2005 ISBN 3-922660-93-2 .
  • Roland Barthes: Eye to Eye: Small Writings on Photography . Ed .: Peter Geimer, Bernd Stiegler (=  Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch Wissenschaft . Volume 2155 ). Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-518-29755-1 .
  • Lexicon by the author: Seminar at the École pratique des hautes études 1973-1974: unpublished fragments "About myself." , Berlin: Brinkmann & Bose, 2018, ISBN 978-3-940048-34-9
  • In Cinemascope, Right and Left Cinema, The Problem of Meaning in Film, The 'Traumatic Units' in Film. Principles of investigation, Sade - Pasolini , translated by Guido Kirsten, montage AV 24 (1), 2015 (special issue Roland Barthes).

Complete edition

  • Œuvres complètes (1942–1980). 5 volumes (French). Edited by Eric Marty, Paris 2002, Seuil


  • Graham Allen: Intertextuality . Routledge, London 2000
  • Eve Tavor Bannet: Barthes and the Pleasures of Alienation. In: Eve Tavor Bannet: Structuralism and the Logic of Dissent. Barthes, Jacques Derrida , Michel Foucault , Jacques Lacan . 1989
  • Thorsten Bloedhorn: Worlds of Signs: Roland Barthes' thinking in terms of meaning . Free University, Berlin 2010, DNB  1000783499 ( [PDF; 1000 kB ] Dissertation FU Berlin, Department of Politics and Social Sciences, Institute for Sociology, 2009).
  • Peter Bürger : On the difficulty of saying : Roland Barthes. In: Peter Bürger, Christa Bürger : The disappearance of the subject. The thinking of life. Fragments of a History of Subjectivity. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 2001 ISBN 3-518-29112-2 review
  • Wolfgang Bock : Ghosts and wanderers. Photography and text by Roland Barthes. In dsb., Image, writing, cyberspace. Basic course media knowledge. Aisthesis, Bielfeld 2002 ISBN 3-89528-349-5 pp. 222–244
  • Louis-Jean Calvet : Roland Barthes. A biography. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1993 ISBN 978-3-518-40520-8
  • Niclas Carpentiers: La lectue selon Arthes . L'Harmattan, Paris 1998
  • Catherine Coquio, Régis Salado Ed .: Barthes après Barthes, Une actualité en question. Actes du colloque international de Pau, 22-24 November 1990. Pau 1993
    • therein Isabelle Moindrot: Roland Barthes ou Le meurtre de l'interprète .
  • Bernard Comment: Roland Barthes, vers le neutre. Christian Bourgois, 1991
  • Jonathan Culler : Literary Theory: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press 1997
  • Jonathan Culler: Deconstruction. Derrida and the post-structuralist literary theory. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1988 and others.
  • Jacques Derrida: Les morts de Roland Barthes , in: Poétique, 47, 1981
  • Terry Eagleton: Introduction to Literary Theory. 4th exp., Actual. Ed., Metzler, Stuttgart 1997 (EA 1983)
  • Ottmar Ette : Roland Barthes. An intellectual biography . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1998 Review by Torsten Pflugmacher
  • Ottmar Ette: Roland Barthes for an introduction . Junius, Hamburg 2011 ISBN 978-3-88506-694-1
  • Franck Évrard, Éric Tenet: Roland Barthes. Bertrand Lacoste, Paris 1994
  • Stephen Heath: Vertige du deplacement, lecture de Barthes. Fayard, Paris 1974
  • Francisco J. Hombravella (1975): Qué es la literatura? Salvat, Barcelona 1975 (Biblioteca Salvat de Grandes Temas, 95)
  • Mona Körte, Anne-Kathrin Reulecke (ed.): Mythologies - Myths of everyday life. Roland Barthes' classics of cultural studies . Kulturverlag Kadmos, Berlin 2014
  • Antje Landmann: emptiness. Roland Barthes' intercultural dialogue in Japan. 2003 ISBN 3-89129-801-3 review
  • José Guilherme Merquior: From Prague to Paris: Structuralist and Post-structuralist Itineraries. Verso, 1986
  • Robert Kleindienst : At death! Lively! Paul Celan in the context of Roland Barthes' authoring concept. A poetological confrontation. Königshausen & Neumann , Würzburg 2006 ISBN 3-8260-3329-9
  • Doris Kolesch: Roland Barthes. Campus, Frankfurt 1997
  • Dirk Quadflieg: Roland Barthes. In: Stephan Moebius , Dirk Quadflieg Ed .: Culture. Present theories. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften , 2006 ISBN 3-531-14519-3
  • Gabriele Röttger-Denker: Roland Barthes for an introduction. Junius, Hamburg 1997 ISBN 3-88506-951-2 (1) .
  • Steven L. Rosen: Japan as Other. Orientalism and Cultural Conflict. In Journal of Intercultural Communications , Issue 4, November 2000 Online Journal
  • Tiphaine Samoyault: Roland Barthes. Biography . Seuil, Paris 2015 ISBN 978-2-02-101020-6
    • Roland Barthes - The biography. Translated from the French by Maria Hoffmann-Dartevelle and Lis Künzli, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 2015 ISBN 978-3-518-42506-0
    • Review by Jochen Schimmang , Deutschlandfunk
  • Frauke Schmidt: Roland Barthes. In: Matías Martínez , Michael Scheffel (ed.): Classics of modern literary theory. From Sigmund Freud to Judith Butler (= Beck'sche series. 1822). Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60829-2 , pp. 216-238.
  • Susan Sontag : Roland Barthes, in Vive la littérature! Contemporary French literature. Ed. Verena von der Heyden-Rynsch. Hanser, Munich 1989, pp. 25, 27 (with photo), transl. Jörg Tribitius (from: Memories of Barthes , in Imzeichen der Zeit, ibid. 1981)
  • Philip Tody, Ann Course: Barthes para principiantes. 1997
  • Leo Truchlar: Roland Barthes: The grain of the voice. In: Leo Truchlar, threshold, passage, metamorphosis. Lit, Vienna 2006 ISBN 3-7000-0538-5 p. 319ff.
  • Peter V. Zima: Barthes Nietzschean aesthetics of the signifier. In: Literary Aesthetics. Methods and models of literary studies. Francke, Tübingen 1991


  1. FU Berlin. Literary theories on the net. Prost structuralism.
  2. Pascale Hugues : It was forbidden to forbid. In: Die Zeit , January 22, 2020.
  3. On the principle of dépaysement and the Barthes reception with Heath and Culler see Antje Landmann: Zeichenleere. Roland Barthes' intercultural dialogue in Japan . Study 2003, p. 12 ff.
  4. For classification, logocentrism, awareness in the FRG cf. Röttger thinker: Roland Barthes for an introduction .
  5. ^ Barthes: Lesson / Leçon . Frankfurt a. M .: Suhrkamp 1980, p. 8. See also Landmann: Zeichenleere , p. 13.
  6. Röttger-Denker: Barthes for an introduction , p. 34.
  7. ^ Roland Barthes: War of Languages (1973). The full sentence reads: “Writing is atopic; In relation to the war of languages, which it does not eliminate but relocates, it anticipates reading and writing practices in which desire circulates and not domination. "
  8. ^ Philippe Roger: Roland Barthes , Paris 1986.
  9. Röttger-Denker: Roland Barthes for an introduction , p. 34.
  10. See . In terms of content, Barthes' concept of myth can be traced well in the Essen Study Encyclopedia Linguistics : [1] especially in Chapter 3.3 ( Memento of the original from July 11, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. Roland Barthes: The great family of people . In: Barthes: Myths of Everyday Life . Frankfurt a. M .: Suhrkamp 1964, p. 17.
  12. a b c d e f Barthes: Mythen des Alltags , p. 85.
  13. Ibid., P. 86 f.
  14. Ibid., P. 87 f.
  15. Ibid., P. 90.
  16. Ibid., P. 90 f.
  17. Ibid., P. 92 f.
  18. See the analysis of the Eiffel Tower : Roland Barthes, André Martin: Der Eiffelturm. Rogner & Bernhard, Munich 1970.
  19. Nico Schulte-Ebbert: The readability of the structures. In his brilliant essay “The Eiffel Tower”, Roland Barthes, who was born a hundred years ago, dismantles the French landmark and puts together a theory of the tower. In: November 9, 2015, accessed December 17, 2019 .
  20. Ibid., P. 93.
  21. Röttger-Denker: Roland Barthes for an introduction , p. 18.
  22. Ibid., P. 23.
  23. Ibid., P. 24.
  24. Barthes: Myths of Everyday Life , p. 108
  25. a b c Landmann: Zeichenleere , p. 67.
  26. Bettina Krüger: Longing for something completely different. Roland Barthes' 'L'Empire des signes' - a trip to Japan? , in: parapluie no. 2/1997 [2]
  27. ^ Barthes: L'Empire des signes . Genoa: Skira 1970, German: In the realm of symbols . Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp 1981, p. 13.
  28. Kentaro Kawashima: … close to the smile. The photographed face in Roland Barthes' 'The Empire of Signs' , in: parapluie no. 23 [3] .
  29. Ibid., P. 68 f.
  30. Ibid., P. 69.
  31. Roland Barthes: Der Einbruch des Sinn , in: ders .: The realm of signs . Frankfurt a. M., 1981. p. 98.
  32. Barthes: L'Empire des signes , in: Œuvres complètes , p. 801. [translated: "In the West the mirror is an essentially narcissistic object: one only thinks of the mirror in order to look at oneself in it; but in the East it seems it, the mirror is empty; [...] the mirror only catches other mirrors, and this infinite reflection is complete emptiness. "]
  33. Barthes: Der Einbruch des Sinn , p. 22.
  34. It is an 'expansion' of the signifiers, because Barthes does not speak the Japanese language, which he points out elsewhere.
  35. Barthes: Der Einbruch des Sinn , p. 23.
  36. Thomas Wägenbaur reviews it very extensively in IASL , no direct link, use the sitemap on the right, long loading times. Ette also wrote the article (essay) in the Critical Lexicon of Contemporary Foreign Language Literature on Barthes, the beginning of the article , and another fee
  37. Quote: A very thorough biography , accessed December 16, 2015

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Literary studies