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Bit by Bit

John Sturrock, 22 December 1994

Roland Barthes: A Biography 
by Louis-Jean Calvet, translated by Sarah Wykes.
Polity, 291 pp., £25, October 1994, 9780745610177
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... he got from reading ‘bourgeois’ fiction. The most engaging of the biographemes to be found in Louis-Jean Calvet’s Life is an occasion in the late Seventies when Barthes played (badly, by all accounts, and on location in Leeds) the role of Thackeray in a French film about the Brontës; by that late stage this wasn’t the comical piece of literary ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 15 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... penalty, and the left-wing figures who went anyway were later subjected, Barthes’s biographer Louis-Jean Calvet reports, to sarcastic inquiries such as ‘So, how was the soup?’ Barthes didn’t like being sneered at for consorting with a patrician representative of the centre-right, and his friends made it known that he had, over coffee, made ...

On His Trapeze

Michael Wood: Roland Barthes, 17 November 2016

Barthes: A Biography 
by Tiphaine Samoyault, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 586 pp., £25, December 2016, 978 1 5095 0565 4
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... not say taught us, because one can neither teach nor learn this – but showed us is possible’. Louis-Jean Calvet, Barthes’s first biographer, said in 1990 that the loss of his voice, the absence of a ‘word’ from him, produced a ‘silence that leaves us prey to mere noise’. And Foucault, cited by Samoyault, said Barthes was the ...

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