Roland Barthes (November 12, 1915 – March 25, 1980) was born in Cherbough, Manche. After his father’s death in a naval battle in 1916, his mother was Henriette Binger Barthes moved to Bayonne, where Barthes spent his childhood. In 1927 Henriette gave birth to an illegitimate child, Michel Salzado, Barthes’ half-brother this was the start of his hard life (The European Graduate School, Retrieved July 30, 2009). In his early work, Barthes was a structuralist and semiotician, influenced by the writings of Ferdinand de Saussure’s study of signs and signification.
He preferred not to classify his thought, evident in the range of subject-matter for analysis in his works, often to provoke the bourgeoisie. His interest in popular media and events was due in part to what he saw as an abuse in such phenomena of ideology. Barthes believed that the starting point for such works did not lay in the author’s intentions of traditional value judgments, but by the texts produced, as systems unto themselves whose underlying structures form the “meaning of the work as a whole.
” His works had a diversity, applying semiotic theory and/or literary critique, looking to disrupt the French literary establishment, while other essays focused on more personal issues such as the text, music, love and photography(The European Graduate School, Retrieved July 30, 2009). Barthes studied at the Sorbonne. Barthes showed great promise as a student and spent the period from 1935 to 1939 at the Sorbonne, earning a licence in classical letters. Unfortunately, he was also plagued by ill health throughout this period, suffering from tuberculosis that often had to be treated in the isolation of sanatoria.
He was always in sanitoriums but during intermissions in hiaillness’, between 1939 and 1949 he taught in schools at Biarritz, Bayonne, Paris, and Bucharest( Roland Barthes, Retrieved July 31, 2009). His life from 1939 to 1948 was largely spent obtaining a license in grammar and publishing his first papers, taking part in a medical study and continuing to struggle with his health. In 1948 he returned to purely academic work, gaining numerous short-term positions at institutes in France, Romania and Egypt. During this time he was able to accomplish his first complete work entitled Writing Degree Zero (1953).
In 1952 Barthes was able to settle at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique when he studied lexicology and sociology. During his seven-year period there he began writing a popular series of bimonthly essays for the magazine Les Lettres Nouvelles, in which he dismantled myths of popular culture( Wikipedia, Retirieved July 31, 2009). Barthes spent the 1960’s exploring the fields of semiology and structuralism, chairing various faculty positions around France, and continuing to produce more full-length studies.
Many of his works challenged traditional academic views of literary criticism and of specific, renowned figures of literature (Wikipedia, Retireived July 31, 2009). During his career, Barthes published more essays than substantial studies, presenting his views among others in subjective aphorism and not in the form of theoretical postulates. Barthes lived with or near his mother, who died in 1977. During her illness Barthes nursed her, and later wrote in Camera Lucida, that “ultimately I experienced her, strong as she had been, my inner law, as my feminine child…
Once she was dead I no longer had any reason to attune myself to the progress of the superior Life Force. Barthes died three years later in Paris as the result of a street accident on March 23, 1980. Posthumously published INCIDENTS (1987) revealed the author’s homosexuality(Roland Barthes, Retrieved July 31, 2009). On 25 February 1980, after leaving a lunch party held by Francois Mitterrand, Barthes was struck by a laundry van while walking home through the streets of Paris.
He succumbed to his injuries a month later and died on March 25, 1980(Wykes, 1994). References The European Graduate School. (2008). Roland Barthes, http://www. egs. edu/resources/barthes. html, Retrieved July 31, 2009. Roland Barthes, http://www. kirjasto. sci. fi/rbarthes. htm, Retrieved July 31, 2009. Roland Barthes, http://www. spiritus-temporis. com/roland-barthes/, Retrieved July 31, 2009. Wykes, Sarah. (1994), Roland Barthes: A Biography, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
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