Barthes: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780192801593

Jonathan Culler
160 Pages
114 x 174 mm
Pub date
Feb 2002
Very Short Introductions


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  • Widely recognized as the best short book on Barthes' work and influence
  • Barthes is the most 'reader-friendly' of the great French theorists of the twentieth century, and thus among the most popular.
  • Jonathan Culler is highly respected and widely published in his field, and also regarded as one of the clearest writers on literary theory

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. 


1: Man of parts
2: Literary Historian
3: Mythologist
4: Critic
5: Polemicist
6: Semiologist
7: Structuralist
8: Hedonist
9: Writer
10: Man of Letters
11: Barthes after Barthes

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 VSI Literary Theory is the series bestseller with sales of 40,000 copies to date.

Review from other book by this author 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

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