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The Pleasure of the Text [Paperback]

Roland Barthes , Richard Miller

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Book Description

Jun 1980
`Taken together, The Pleasure of the Text and S/Z force us to notice how much of the most interesting thought today is being carried forward in what we used to call `literary criticism,' and how important Barthes' own contribution to redefinition of the field has been.' The New York Times Book Review . What is it we do when we enjoy a text? What is the pleasure of reading? Roland Barthes has found a way of apparently abandoning the systematics of his earlier studies, a way of giving himself up to an evidently random succession of fragments - facets, aphorisms, touches and nudges, bubbles, `phylacteries' of an invisible design. The most arbitrary of orders, the alphabetical, governs his consequent series of proses , which gather like filings in a magnetic field to constitute, for perhaps the first time in the history of criticism, an erotics of reading . The Pleasure of Text is now established as a classic of late twentieth century literary, critial, cultural and semiotic theory. Its impact over the last 15 years has been profound over a range of disciplines, its interest as fresh now as when it was first published. This edition makes readily available one of Barthes' canonical works.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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More About the Author

Roland Barthes was born in 1915 and studied French literature and classics at the University of Paris. After teaching French at universities in Rumania and Egypt, he joined the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, where he devoted himself to research in sociology and lexicology. He was a professor at the College de France until his death in 1980.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An audacious--and delicious--little book 7 Feb 2001
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on
"The Pleasure of the Text," by Roland Barthes, is a work of literary and cultural philosophy that actually transcends the genre. The short book consists of a series of "meditations," many less than a page long, that explore various facets of language and reading. Barthes' work has been translated from French into an elegantly playful English by Richard Miller.
As a whole, the book has an informal, almost stream-of-consciousness feel to it. Barthes' text is richly studded with numerous cultural references--Bataille, the Kama Sutra, Sade, Severo Sarduy, Marx, the Buddhist sangha, Poe, Chomsky, and much more. Barthes often uses sexual imagery as a vehicle by which to construct a philosophy of reading. The result of all these elements is a dizzying, yet oddly delightful reading experience.
One of the key themes of "The Pleasure of the Text" is Barthes' attempt to define "pleasure" and "bliss," and to delineate the differences between the text of pleasure and the text of bliss. From Barthes' project the close reader can thus derive a new way of looking at all texts.
Among other topics Barthes considers the hierarchical nature and pleasure factor of the sentence, as well as the erotic potential of the word. And throughout, his writing is marked by passages of wit and insight. A typical observation: "The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition [...]."
"The Pleasure of the Text" often takes on a metaphysical, almost prophetic flavor. For those who are willing to dig into this dense text with gusto, it may prove to be an intellectual treasure heap.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barthes the poet 10 July 2001
By "mrallen" - Published on
Reading this long essay, I was reminded of Barthes' contention that he was not a literary critic--this work goes farther than most anything that passes for literary criticism nowadays. This is a beautiful, concise essay on what makes reading pleasurable, something most critics wouldn't dare to tackle. But Roland Barthes is no critic--he's a philosopher and a poet, a gifted writer whose words desire your reading (and you'll desire the words) as much as they illuminate that desire itself. It's a rare person who can explain literature while creating it. Barthes is one such person, which is just another reason he's no literary critic.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious Fun 4 Sep 2008
By Charles Morgan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I returned to Barthes not having read him in a long time. A graduate TA, with shaky french herself,
had us reading Mythologies in the early '80's. As students working hard just to translate the text, I'm afraid we let certain funny jokes, like the fact of a frenchman discussing the meaning of french fries in America,
go directly over our heads.

I happened to read a review of a movie where Ben Kingsley romances college student Penelope Cruz.
One detail, "She had under her arm, The Pleasure of the Text," reeled me in to order it, though I did not consider the movie any further(maybe that was wrong). I also ordered two others by Barthes. One was A Lover's Discourse: Fragments, a short, easy enjoyable read I recommend.

Pleasure of the Text is a little more involved but certainly not impenetrable. I actually was finding it funnier
and funnier until I got to page 9, where I laughed out loud as he talked about the "narrative" being "dismantled" in Flaubert. Maybe it was just me. On rereading it I realized it was not really a joke;
I think Barthes is a little more serious here than in the french-fry book(some may say that was serious, too).
In sum, definitely lovely, accessible writing. And he seems like a pretty nice guy after all these years.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Theorist ramblings 17 July 2013
By Thomas - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The entire book is an essay on the sensual "bliss" or pleasure of reading, but reading this book was not a bliss.
The entire Pleasure of Text could have been better explained in one well written paragraph, but it wasn't.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gifted 18 Mar 2014
By Fahad Al-Issa - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
it was a gift to my sister for he birthday and she love it as per her feed back to me.
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