Roland Barthes - Literary Theorist, Life Achievements and Facts

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Roland Barthes's Personal Details

Roland Barthes was a French literary theorist, critic and semiotician

InformationDetail
BirthdayNovember 12, 1915
Died onMarch 25, 1980
NationalityFrench
FamousLiterary Theorist, Philosophers, Critics & Connoisseurs, Philosophers, Linguists
Known asRoland Gérard Barthes
Universities
  • Lycee Louis-le-Grand
  • Paris (1930-34)
Cause of deathCar Accident
Birth PlaceCherbourg-Octeville
ReligionProtestant
GenderMale
FatherLouis Barthes
MotherHenriette Barthes
Sun SignScorpio
Born inCherbourg-Octeville
Famous asFrench Literary Theorist & Philosopher
Died at Age64

// Famous Literary Theorist

Roland Barthes's photo

Who is Roland Barthes?

Roland Barthes is a legendary figure and semiotician, whose ideas encouraged the advancement of a number of fields including structuralism, anthropology, post-structuralism, semiotics and social theory. He was highly influenced by Ferdinand de Saussure’s semiology throughout his life and thus, began to develop his own complex theoretical concepts that became central to a number of schools of thought in France and Europe. He was also a leading critic of his time and a prominent theoretical personality across Europe and America. Interestingly, he left an indelible impression wherever he went and making himself known in popular culture as well. Some of his well-known works included, ‘Writing Degree Zero’, ‘Mythologies’, ‘Criticism and Truth’, ‘The Pleasure of the Text’ and ‘Image Music Text’. Most of his works carried with them a multiplicity, applying semiotic theory and literary critique. He was often potholed against more traditional French scholars, but never minding their thoughts, he managed to make important advances in a number of areas. During his time, he was considered a living legend and a leading critic of his generation. His works secured a number of translations since his untimely death in an accident at the age of sixty-four.

// Famous Philosophers

Childhood & Early Life

Roland Gerard Barthes was born on November 12, 1915 to Louis Barthes, a naval officer and Henriette Barthes, in Cherbourg, Normandy.

After the death of his father in a battle, he was raised by his mother, aunt and grandmother in Urt, a village and in Bayonne. When he turned 11, the family moved to Paris.

Through most part of his early life, he was beleaguered by tuberculosis and writhed from repeated physical breakdowns that affected a large part of his career.

His illnesses kept him away from education and also became the main reason for him to be out of military service during World War II.

From 1935 to 1939, he spent his time at the Sorbonne, where he earned a certificate in classical letters and philology. He published a number of papers, struggling with his health at the same time.

Career

In 1948, he returned to purely academic work, being offered a number of short-term jobs in institutes in Romania, Egypt and France. During this time, he wrote his first work for the Paris publication, ‘Combat’, which became the basis for his first-full length work.

In 1952, he studied lexicology and sociology and settled at the ‘Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique’. His first full-length work, ‘Writing Degree Zero’ was published the subsequent year.

During his seven year tenure with the institute, he began writing a number of essays for the magazine ‘Les Lettres Nouvelles’, in which he undid myths of popular culture. His essays were later compiled in a novel that was titled, ‘Mythologies’, in 1957.

In the 1960s, he spent most of time studying semiology and structuralism, as well as chairing a number of faculty positions in Europe.

His views led to an aggressive tete-a-tete with Raymond Picard, a professor of literature, who despised Barthes’ views. He came back with a confutation in his book, ‘Criticism and Truth’, which was published in 1966.

In the latter half of the 1960s, he travelled around the world and also wrote one of his best-known works at this time—an essay titled, ‘The Death of the Author’, in 1967.

During this period, he continued to contribute essays to the modern literary magazine, ‘Tel Quel’ and also began developing theoretical ideas. One of his most phenomenal works titled ‘S/Z’ was published in 1970. The next year, he served as a visiting faculty for the University of Geneva.

In 1975, he wrote an autobiography titled ‘Roland Barthes’ and two years later, he chaired the ‘Semiologie Litteraire’ at the College de France. The same year, his mother passed away— this was a severe blow to the theorist’s life and works. Two years later, he published ‘A Lover’s Discourse’.

In 1980, he published his last works, ‘Camera Lucida’, which was mainly an examination into the nature and crux of photography.

One of his lesser-known works, ‘Travels in China’, was published posthumously, in 2012.

Major Works

‘Writing Degree Zero’ was his first book, first published in 1953. Largely considered one of his magnum opuses, this book compiled a number of short essays and also taught readers about the dissimilarity between language and writing. The original version was written in French and was translated to English in 1967 by Jonathan Cape. It has also been ranked at the no. 63 position on Le Monde’s list of ‘100 Books of the Century’.

‘S/Z’ published in 1970 is one of his most important works and offers a structuralist analysis of ‘Sarrasine’. The book is believed to have had a major impact in literary criticism and is considered a masterpiece that helped develop structuralism and post-structuralism ideologies.

Personal Life & Legacy

He maintained a diary—some of the excerpts of which were published posthumously titled, ‘Soirees de Paris’ and ‘Light of the Sud Ouest’, which threw light on his earlier erotic encounters with boys and during his stay in Paris.

He shared an extremely close bond with his mother, whom he lived with for 60 years of his life. After her demise, he was shattered and grieved his mother’s death till the time of his death.

He was extremely interested in photography and believed that photographs presented a real representation of the world, an explanation of which was given in his works, ‘Camera Lucida’.

He was hit by a laundry van in Paris on February 25, 1980 and died a month later, succumbing to the injuries he sustained during the accident.

His legacy is an extensive one. Most of Barthes’ works gave rise to structuralism, semiotics and post-structuralism schools of thoughts. Apart from these broad genres, his influence can be felt in every field concerned with the exemplification of material and prototypes of communiqué including photography, literature, music and computers.

Trivia

This popular literary critic and semiotician of the ‘S/Z’ fame founded the ‘Groupe Theatral Antique’ and the publication, ‘Theatre Populaire’.

// Famous Philosophers

Roland Barthes biography timelines

  • // 12th Nov 1915
    Roland Gerard Barthes was born on November 12, 1915 to Louis Barthes, a naval officer and Henriette Barthes, in Cherbourg, Normandy.
  • // 1935 To 1939
    From 1935 to 1939, he spent his time at the Sorbonne, where he earned a certificate in classical letters and philology. He published a number of papers, struggling with his health at the same time.
  • // 1948
    In 1948, he returned to purely academic work, being offered a number of short-term jobs in institutes in Romania, Egypt and France. During this time, he wrote his first work for the Paris publication, ‘Combat’, which became the basis for his first-full length work.
  • // 1952
    In 1952, he studied lexicology and sociology and settled at the ‘Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique’. His first full-length work, ‘Writing Degree Zero’ was published the subsequent year.
  • // 1953 To 1967
    ‘Writing Degree Zero’ was his first book, first published in 1953. Largely considered one of his magnum opuses, this book compiled a number of short essays and also taught readers about the dissimilarity between language and writing. The original version was written in French and was translated to English in 1967 by Jonathan Cape. It has also been ranked at the no. 63 position on Le Monde’s list of ‘100 Books of the Century’.
  • // 1957
    During his seven year tenure with the institute, he began writing a number of essays for the magazine ‘Les Lettres Nouvelles’, in which he undid myths of popular culture. His essays were later compiled in a novel that was titled, ‘Mythologies’, in 1957.
  • // 1966
    His views led to an aggressive tete-a-tete with Raymond Picard, a professor of literature, who despised Barthes’ views. He came back with a confutation in his book, ‘Criticism and Truth’, which was published in 1966.
  • // 1967
    In the latter half of the 1960s, he travelled around the world and also wrote one of his best-known works at this time—an essay titled, ‘The Death of the Author’, in 1967.
  • // 1970
    During this period, he continued to contribute essays to the modern literary magazine, ‘Tel Quel’ and also began developing theoretical ideas. One of his most phenomenal works titled ‘S/Z’ was published in 1970. The next year, he served as a visiting faculty for the University of Geneva.
  • // 1970
    ‘S/Z’ published in 1970 is one of his most important works and offers a structuralist analysis of ‘Sarrasine’. The book is believed to have had a major impact in literary criticism and is considered a masterpiece that helped develop structuralism and post-structuralism ideologies.
  • // 1975
    In 1975, he wrote an autobiography titled ‘Roland Barthes’ and two years later, he chaired the ‘Semiologie Litteraire’ at the College de France. The same year, his mother passed away— this was a severe blow to the theorist’s life and works. Two years later, he published ‘A Lover’s Discourse’.
  • // 1980
    In 1980, he published his last works, ‘Camera Lucida’, which was mainly an examination into the nature and crux of photography.
  • // 25th Feb 1980
    He was hit by a laundry van in Paris on February 25, 1980 and died a month later, succumbing to the injuries he sustained during the accident.
  • // 2012
    One of his lesser-known works, ‘Travels in China’, was published posthumously, in 2012.

// Famous Critics & Connoisseurs

Roland Barthes's FAQ

  • What is Roland Barthes birthday?

    Roland Barthes was born at 1915-11-12

  • When was Roland Barthes died?

    Roland Barthes was died at 1980-03-25

  • Where was Roland Barthes died?

    Roland Barthes was died in Paris

  • Which age was Roland Barthes died?

    Roland Barthes was died at age 64

  • Where is Roland Barthes's birth place?

    Roland Barthes was born in Cherbourg-Octeville

  • What is Roland Barthes nationalities?

    Roland Barthes's nationalities is French

  • What was Roland Barthes universities?

    Roland Barthes studied at Lycee Louis-le-Grand, Paris (1930-34)

  • What is Roland Barthes's cause of dead?

    Roland Barthes dead because of Car Accident

  • What is Roland Barthes's religion?

    Roland Barthes's religion is Protestant

  • Who is Roland Barthes's father?

    Roland Barthes's father is Louis Barthes

  • Who is Roland Barthes's mother?

    Roland Barthes's mother is Henriette Barthes

  • What is Roland Barthes's sun sign?

    Roland Barthes is Scorpio

  • How famous is Roland Barthes?

    Roland Barthes is famouse as French Literary Theorist & Philosopher