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Interesting but incomplete collection of essays
on 9 May 2015
Roland Barthes was one of the leading French intellectuals of the mid 20th Century. In the 1950s he wrote one short essay a month on mythology in contemporary life. Barthes completed a total of 54 of these works, however when a collection was published in English as ‘Mythologies’ only about 30 were present. The remaining essays can be found in ‘The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies’. Alternatively a complete set of essays is also available in ‘Mythologies: The Complete Edition in a New Translation’.
The author writes about many, varied subjects including wrestling, the Romans in films, steak and chips and striptease. His analysis of the semiology of these topics is often revealing and occasionally amusing. Despite his prose style being rather idiosyncratic and academic, in many instances the essays are still quite appealing to a general reader.
A longer essay, ‘Myth Today’, which describes his approach to signs and their meaning, completes this volume but it is much more academic. In it he uses the ideas of semiology developed by Ferdinand de Saussure which described the connections between an object (the signified) and its representation in language (the signifier) and how the two are connected. Within this framework Barthes shows that his concept of a myth is based on creating a further sign to which something has been added.