Barthes and the Death of the Author
Kicking off a new occasional series about the most influential literary theory, Andrew Gallix revisits a classic essay by Roland Barthes.
Ecclesiastes famously warns us that "Of making many books there is no end" – the same, of course, applies to book commentaries. George Steiner has long denounced the "mandarin madness of secondary discourse" which increasingly interposes itself between readers and works of fiction. For better or worse, the internet – with its myriad book sites – has taken this phenomenon to a whole new level. Since Aristotle's Poetics, literature has always given rise to its exegesis, but now that no scrap of literary gossip goes untweeted, it may be time to reflect a little on the activity of literary criticism.