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Viscounts Swapping Stories

Michael Wood: Jacques Derrida, 1 November 2001

The Work of Mourning 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Pascale-Anne Brault.
Chicago, 272 pp., £16, July 2001, 0 226 14316 3
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A Taste for the Secret 
by Jacques Derrida and Maurizio Ferraris, translated by Giacomo Donis.
Polity, 161 pp., £13.99, May 2001, 0 7456 2334 4
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... epitaph for a generation of writers and thinkers in France. The group Derrida has in mind includes Barthes (born 1915), Althusser (born 1918), Deleuze (born 1925) and Foucault (born 1926). Three years later Lyotard (born 1924) is also dead, and Derrida (born 1930) identifies himself now as ‘the last born, and, no doubt, the most melancholic of the ...

Melton Constable

W.R. Mead, 22 May 1986

The past is a foreign country 
by David Lowenthal.
Cambridge, 489 pp., £27.50, November 1985, 0 521 22415 2
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... The inheritance from the past can be so oppressive that it can generate revolt. Long before Roland Barthes opposed ‘the bourgeois sacrifice of men to monuments’ (and possibly muniments as well), Thoreau favoured ‘purifying destruction’. Well might sceptics say that if rot, rust and moth did not exist they would have to be created. The ...

Everyone, Then No One

David Nasaw: Where have all the bowler hats gone?, 23 February 2006

Hatless Jack: The President, the Fedora and the Death of the Hat 
by Neil Steinberg.
Granta, 342 pp., £12, August 2005, 1 86207 782 7
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... To paraphrase​ Roland Barthes, hats are worn to be seen and to be read. They are signs of who we are or want to be. Because hats, unlike shoes or coats, are worn near eye-level, they are the first item of apparel offered for view. The stranger approaching from a distance reads the hat before he sees the face or figure and, at a glance, learns a lot about the person beneath it ...

Genette

Stephen Bann, 2 October 1980

Narrative Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Jane Lewin.
Blackwell, 285 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 631 10981 1
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... de la Prose from the previous year. With his customarily fine sense of strategy and timing, Roland Barthes had published S/Z in 1970, thus announcing both the culmination of the logic of structural analysis but also, in a sense, its impending crisis. From 1970 onwards, the gulf between what Hayden White has called the ‘Absurdist’ and the ...

Copyright

John Sutherland, 2 October 1980

Copyright: Intellectual Property in the Information Age 
by Edward Ploman and L. Clark Hamilton.
Routledge, 248 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 7100 0539 3
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... than to deconstruct him and concentrate on the plural system of the happily emancipated text. Roland Barthes takes emancipation a step further: progressive authors must deconstruct themselves: ‘the problem facing modern writing: how breach the wall of writing, the wall of origin, the wall of ownership’. How indeed? Although ...

Carry on writing

Stephen Bann, 15 March 1984

The Two of Us 
by John Braine.
Methuen, 183 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 413 51280 0
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An Open Prison 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 575 03380 0
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Havannah 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 263 pp., £9.95, February 1984, 0 241 11175 7
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Sunrising 
by David Cook.
Secker, 248 pp., £8.50, February 1984, 0 436 10674 4
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Memoirs of an Anti-Semite 
by Gregor von Rezzori, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Picador, 282 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 330 28325 1
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It’s me, Eddie 
by Edward Limonov, translated by S.L. Campbell.
Picador, 264 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 330 28329 4
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The Anatomy Lesson 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 291 pp., £8.95, February 1984, 0 224 02960 6
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... to be found in that italicised ‘I’m cold,’ spoken by ‘the unfortunate younger boy’. As Roland Barthes wittily declared, the objet d’amour has no discourse. It is a precondition of the ending without remainder which attests J. I. M. Stewart’s craftsmanship, that the equivocal motive for the escapade, the fictional lure that has been dangled ...

Culler and Deconstruction

Gerald Graff, 3 September 1981

The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction 
by Jonathan Culler.
Routledge, 256 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 7100 0757 4
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... is fairly termed an apologist for the post-structuralist critical modes typified by the work of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida, yet he writes without the supercilious tone of the former or the soporific word-play of the latter. Nor does Culler indulge in cheap vilification of opponents, suggesting that unwillingness to buy the whole ...

No-Shit Dinosaur

Jon Day: Karen Russell, 2 June 2011

Swamplandia! 
by Karen Russell.
Chatto, 316 pp., £12.99, March 2011, 978 0 7011 8602 9
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... it is next to impossible for the creature to open them again.’ ‘Wrestling is not a sport,’ Roland Barthes wrote in Mythologies, ‘it is a spectacle,’ and it’s a maxim the Chief heartily endorses. ‘You got to remind the mainlanders that your alligator is a no-shit dinosaur,’ he tells Ava, ‘prove to them that you can lose, so you can ...

Jacques Derrida

Judith Butler: Commemorating ‘one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century’, 4 November 2004

... but gave the act of reading a new significance and a new promise. In that book, he openly mourns Roland Barthes, who died in 1980, Paul de Man, who died in 1983, Michel Foucault, who died in 1984, and a host of others, including Edmund Jabès (1991), Louis Marin (1992), Sarah Kofman (1994), Emmanuel Levinas (1995) and Jean-François Lyotard (1998). In ...

I want to be her clothes

Kevin Kopelson: Kate Moss, 20 December 2012

Kate: The Kate Moss Book 
by Kate Moss, edited by Fabien Baron, Jess Hallett and Jefferson Hack.
Rizzoli, 368 pp., £50, November 2012, 978 0 8478 3790 8
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... him that Oscar Wilde – in person – was both superficial and profound. Or we believe that Roland Barthes in person – after publishing The Fashion System – was both structuralist and poststructuralist. And yet while Barthes himself, correctly, found that fictional characters seem realistic only if described ...

Mallarmé gets a life

Barbara Johnson, 18 August 1994

Mallarmé: A Throw of the Dice 
by Gordon Millan.
Secker, 389 pp., £16.99, March 1994, 9780436270963
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... discovery of his own death? It was largely by learning the lesson of Mallarmé that critics like Roland Barthes came to speak of ‘the death of the author’ in the making of literature. Rather than seeing the text as the emanation of an individual author’s intentions (always a probabilistic and speculative enterprise), structuralists and ...

On wanting to be a diner not a dish

P.N. Furbank, 3 December 1992

The Rituals of Dinner 
by Margaret Visser.
Viking, 432 pp., £17.99, September 1992, 0 670 84701 1
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... thing or another; and sora-bashi, or, with chopsticks, putting back food you had intended to eat. Roland Barthes was eulogistic about chopsticks and the way the Japanese use them, finding in it some of the measured care that a mother uses in moving a child. ‘The instrument never pierces, cuts, or slits, never wounds but only selects, turns, shifts. For ...

Shakespeares

David Norbrook, 18 July 1985

Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism 
edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield.
Manchester, 244 pp., £19.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1752 1
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Alternative Shakespeares 
edited by John Drakakis.
Methuen, 252 pp., £10.50, July 1985, 0 416 36850 6
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Shakespeare and Others 
by S. Schoenbaum.
Scolar, 285 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 85967 691 9
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Illustrations of the English Stage 1580-1642 
by R.A. Foakes.
Scolar, 180 pp., £35, February 1985, 0 85967 684 6
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1743 2
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... contribution to Britain’s invisible exports. This ‘Shakespeare’ has the characteristics Roland Barthes ascribes to myth: it turns history into nature, and thus impedes critical political analysis. Not only the Englishman’s constitution but also the English constitution are traditionally felt to be particularly ‘natural’: Shakespeare’s ...

Presidential Criticism

John Sutherland, 10 January 1991

Victorian Subjects 
by J. Hillis Miller.
Harvester, 330 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 7450 0820 8
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Tropes, Parables, Performatives: Essays on 20th-Century Literature 
by J. Hillis Miller.
Harvester, 266 pp., £30, December 1990, 0 7450 0836 4
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... the two genres principally concerned with presentations of self. Miller has little time for Roland Barthes, because for Barthes nouvelle critique cross-breeds with new, Post-Modernist forms of writing. Miller for ever renews his critical equipment in order to apply and reapply it to the same old revered ...

Sartre’s Absent Whippet

P.N. Furbank, 24 February 1994

The Psychology of Social Class 
by Michael Argyle.
Routledge, 305 pp., £13.99, December 1993, 0 415 07955 1
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... of thought’) which we may call the ‘self-excluder’. According to this figure, Sartre or Roland Barthes will heap obloquy on the ‘bourgeoisie’ while leaving quite unanswered the question of what ‘class’ they belong to themselves. The natural inference would be that they are members of the ‘proletariat’; but if so, what becomes of the ...

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