Andrew Brown

The figures of writing


Titel: The figures of writing, 1989
Uitgever: Oxford Clarendon Press
ISBN-10: ISBN-10: 0-19-815171-3
ISBN-13: ISBN-13: 978-0-19-815171-5


The first serious analysis of Barthes as a writer with specific aesthetic techniques, this fresh and original study focuses on some of the ways he discusses the nature of his own writing. The first two chapters examine the key but ambiguous term of "derive" ("drift"), a word which raises questions about how exactly Barthes's writing develops across three decades, about the "scientific" legitimacy of his concepts, and about his own frequently fraught relation to the scientific discourses around him, especially psychoanalysis. Two typical discursive maneuvers that structure his writing, "naming" and "framing," are then shown to generate particular aesthetic effects which cause complications for some of his theoretical stances. Barthes's fascination for the idea that all writing is a kind of scribble, closer to the visual arts than to speech, is investigated in depth, and his latent animosity against speech as such is made manifest. The final chapter suggests that, for Barthes, "the real" can leave its mark on writing only as a disturbing, indeed traumatic trace.

"A major contribution to the theories it describes and discusses Brown's book is an original and complex engagement with Barthes as a writer. Treating Barthes not simply as a theorist of paraphraseable ideas but as a writer, Brown organizes his study through various 'figures of writing' which are observable within Barthes's work: drifting, frames and names, scribbling and trauma."(Graham Allen)

Uit de introductie: ":.. my main focus has been on the signifier: not so much what he says, but how he says it, and how the way he says it constantly forces us to qualify our perceptions of what he says. In this preoccupation with the stylistic manoeuvres that dominate Barthes's work, my study attempts to build on the insights of Stephen Heath (Vertige du diplacement: lecture de Barthes), Steven Ungar (Roland Barthes: The Professor of Desire), and Philippe Roger (Roland Barthes, roman). Hence my title: Figures of Writing." (p 3)





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