The Death of the Author (1968)
The author is a modern figure, a product which has attached great importance to the person of the author. Literature is tyrannically centred on the author, his life, person, tastes and passions. The explanation of a text is sought in the person who produced it. In ethnographic societies, the responsibility for a narrative is never assumed by a person but by a mediator, a relator. Barthes questioned the importance of the author. The effective reading of a text depends on the suspension of preconceived ideas about the character of the particular author or about human psychology in general. It is language that speaks and not the author who no longer determines meaning. Consequences: We no longer talk about works but texts.
The author, the reader and the text are each composed of a universe of quotations. The moment the author detaches himself from an immediate context, the reader is born and it is language which speaks. The author is previous to his work; he exists before it and creates it. The modern scriptor is born simultaneously with the text. To give a text an author is to impose a limit, to give it a final signified, to close the writing. The reader is the space where all the quotations are inscribed without being lost.
From work to Text.
The text is not an object that can be computed.
· A text is a process, a work is a product.
· Works can be found in library shelves. Texts are signifying fields into which one enters.
· The text is not alive. The death of the author is not a murder but an elimination of the metaphor of life.
· A work is consumed (readerly aspect o a text), a text is produced (writerly aspect of a text).
· The text is avant-garde, the work is classic. Any work can be a text, no matter its age, and modern products can be no texts.
· The text cannot be contained in a hierarchy, not even in a division of genres. It contains a subversive force in respect to old classifications.
· The text can be approached, experienced in reaction to the sign. The work is closed on a signified.
· The text is plural, a tissue of woven fabric woven with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages, that make it anonymous, untraceable.
· The text reads without its author. He is present just as one of its characters, no longer privileged, paternal.
· The text asks from the reader a practical collaboration.