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Barthes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Jonathan Culler
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 Feb 2002 Very Short Introductions (Book 56)
This acclaimed short study, originally published in 1983, and now thoroughly updated, elucidates the varied theoretical contributions of Roland Barthes (1915-80), the 'incomparable enlivener of the literary mind' whose lifelong fascination was with the way people make their world intelligible. He has a multi-faceted claim to fame: to some he is the structuralist who outlined a 'science of literature', and the most prominent promoter of semiology; to others he stands not for science but pleasure, espousing a theory of literature which gives the reader a creative role. This book describes the many projects, which Barthes explored and which helped to change the way we think about a range of cultural phenomena - from literature, fashion, wrestling, and advertising to notions of the self, of history, and of nature.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Barthes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + Foucault: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Rev Ed edition (21 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801593
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 11.3 x 17.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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It is impossible to imagine a clearer treatment of the subject, or one that is, within the given limits of length, more comprehensive. Culler has always been remarkable for his expository skills, and here he has found exactly the right method and tone for his purposes. (Sir Frank Kermode)

About the Author

Jonathan Culler is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University and a leading figure in the world of literary theory. Praised by Frank Kermode for his 'remarkable expository skills', his publications include seminal works on deconstruction and semiology as well as studies of individual authors. His

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When Roland Barthes died in 1980 at the age of 65, he was a professor at the College de France, the highest position in the French academic system. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friendly and insightful introduction 21 May 2004
By A Customer
Bruce Lincoln's analysis of Allstar wrestling had me interested in Barthes - and Culler's introduction has enticed me even further into Barthes multifarious oevre. Culler divides his introduction according to the thematics of Barthes' works - as he says, Barthes is a man of parts - literary historian, mythologist, critic, polemicist, semiologist, structuralist, hedonist etc.
I am glad to have read an introduction that appreciates the many aspects of Barthes' writing. Culler has me well prepared before reading Barthes himself.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of studying Barthes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to grips with Barthes 28 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought I would never really get to grips with Barthes but with the help of this book I am able to read him
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Simplification of complicated ideas 24 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Found this book very helpful. I am doing an MA in Eng Lit and it has been over 13 years since my BA so this formed a great reminder for me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise Introduction to a Wide-Ranging Mind 6 April 2009
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Culler compresses Roland Barthes' scholarly arc to a readable length, allowing us to grasp his development in a way that would take years of study if we rely on original texts. Since Barthes' work covered literature, cultural criticism, politics, sexual customs, and more, this summary is necessary to find what specialized scholars need from his corpus. Collating Barthes' varied thought experiments into a lucid narrative lets us isolate ideas useful to scholarly goals, focusing our productivity rather than flinging ourselves at the mass of Barthes' work.

Readable in plain English yet intellectually dense, Culler's summation is a great place to begin in Barthes study, especially for time-strapped readers. Copious citations and a thorough appendix of Barthes' works allow convenient cross-reference and simplify the selection of appropriate sources. New content discussing how Barthes' reputation has fared after his death updates the content through the year 2002. I recommend Culler's introduction for its clear, cogent, straightforward approach to a painfully subtle mind.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brief review of a brief outline of a man of many parts... 27 Oct 2009
By Mark Nadja - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Organizing this overview by utilizing the conceit that Barthes was an intellectual of varied--often paradoxical--parts, Jonathan Culler breaks down his analysis of Barthes by devoting a chapter to each of these parts, one after another. The result is to make clear what might otherwise have seemed a hopeless muddle of the many reversals, contradictions, and theoretical leap-frogging that Barthes engaged in during a long career of dodging easy characterization. Yet in spite of the elementary a-b-c format, there is enough meat on this bare-bones outline of Barthes body of work to satisfy the beginner and leave him with an appetite for more. A good little guide with which to familiarize yourself with this seminal semiologist, structuralist, post structuralist, hedonist, et al.
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