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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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... and written by adepts of his own work and admitted, too, to the deep, pre-theoretical satisfaction he got from reading ‘bourgeois’ fiction. The most engaging of the biographemes to be found in Louis-JeanCalvet’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 ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet

14 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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... turned down Faure’s invitation as a protest against Giscard’s failure to put an end to the death penalty, and the left-wing figures who went anyway were later subjected, Barthes’s biographer Louis-JeanCalvet 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 ...

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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... of generalising where only the particular was in play. This was ‘the great thing that he – I do not say taught us, because one can neither teach nor learn this – but showed us is possible’. Louis-JeanCalvet, 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 ...

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