The Pleasure of the Text
Publication Date: January 1975
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What is it that we do when we enjoy a text? What is the pleasure of reading? The French critic and theorist Roland Barthes’s answers to these questions constitute "perhaps for the first time in the history of criticism . . . not only a poetics of reading . . . but a much more difficult achievement, an erotics of reading . . . . Like filings which gather to form a figure in a magnetic field, the parts and pieces here do come together, determined to affirm the pleasure we must take in our reading as against the indifference of (mere) knowledge." --Richard Howard
Roland Barthes was born in 1915 and studied French literature and the classics at the University of Paris. After teaching French at universities in Romania and Egypt, he joined the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, where he devoted himself to research in sociology and lexicology. He was a professor at the College de France until his death in 1980.
"Barthes repeatedly compared teaching to play, reading to eros, writing to seduction. His voice became more and more personal, more full of grain, as he called it; his intellectual art more openly a performance, like that of the other great anti-systematizers . . . All of Barthes work is an exploration the histrionic or ludic; in many ingenious modes, a plea for savor, for a festive (rather than dogmatic or credulous) relation to ideas. For Barthes, the point is to make us bold, agile, subtle, intelligent, detached. And to give pleasure." --Susan Sontag