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Analysis of "The Death of the Author" In his essay “The Death of the Author”, Roland Barthes attacks the tradition of “Classic criticism” (which he describes as being “tyrannically centred on the author” ), presenting the argument that there is no such thing as the “Author” of a text, but merely a “scriptor” whose ideas are not entirely original; the author is subject to several influences when writing, and as Barthes says we can never know the true influence because writing destructs “every point of origin” . It is not the author (whose voice vanishes at the point of writing), but language that speaks, therefore, the text requires an a n analysis of language and linguistics, rather than a speaking voice. Barthes emphasises that once the author is removed, it is within the reader of the text that any meaning lies, as the text is open o pen to multiple interpretations by the reader, that the author may not have originally intended (deeming the reader as the more creative force), making the author seem an insignificant figure in literature.
Barthes enhances his theory by presenting several examples to illustrate his reasons for believing that the author is “dead”, before finally delivering his main declaration. Beginning the essay by pointing out the disappearance of the narrator in modern literature, Barthes uses the example of the story Sarrasine by Balzac to illustrate the claim that the
author disappears at the point of writing, for the reader is able to distinguish more than just a solitary voice in the lines of the text. The notion of the author being merely the “medium” through which writing is presented (it is not the author’s “genius” but “mastery of narration” which is admired) is first examined in the following paragraph, as well as the conflicting Classic criticism - “The explanation is always sought in the person who produced the text…” where the belief has always been that the work is the sole responsibility of the author. Barthes then goes on to refute this by presenting the example of Mallarme, who stressed the importance of linguistic analysis (“it is language that speaks, not the author”) , as well as Proust’s contribution to modern writing, showing the reversal of the roles of author and writing; author creates text becomes text creates author. The lack of meaning in a text (found in Surrealist works, which Barthes mentions) also emphasizes the degradation of the Classic concept of author. He states that Surrealism, along with the study of linguistics of a given text, helped contribute to the death of the author. He claims that language knows a subject not a person. So the person studying the language of a text will concern themselves more with the subject and less with the person behind the words. His definition of the word “text” – “a multi-
dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash.” emphasizes that the writer of such text is never completely original (demoting the God-like Author to a “modern scriptor” ). Bathes is saying that the author or narrator who is really the voice of the author himself is becoming less of an entity within the text itself. By drawing a contrast between the author and the narrative voice and language he succeeds in distancing the author from his work and adding to his disappearance. Barthes stresses that the author is the past to his own book. These things have already happened to the author therefore creating a gap between the author now and the narrator of the text as it occurs (the “scriptor”). Therefore, the difference between the text and the work itself becomes an issue. The text would be what would be happening to the author right then and there, as the work as a whole would be associated with the author. The distancing between the author and the narrator grows because of this and adds to Barthes argument. The final paragraph states that reading is the true “place of writing” , using the example of the Greek tragedies with texts that contain words with double meanings that appear one-sided to the characters. However, the reader (the audience) is aware of the double meanings, implying the “multiplicity of writing” rests on the reader for open interpretation. “A text’s unity lies not on its origin but on its
destination.” Pointing out the importance of the reader in literary analysis, Barthes shows that Classic criticism was “imposing a limit” on texts by only focusing on the author themselves. Content In his essay, Barthes criticizes the method of reading and criticism that relies on aspects of the author's identity — his or her political views, historical context, religion, ethnicity, psychology, or other biographical or personal attributes — to distill meaning from the author's work. In this type of criticism, the experiences and biases of the author serve as a definitive "explanation" of the text. For Barthes, this method of reading may be apparently tidy and convenient but is actually sloppy and flawed: "To give a text an Author" and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it "is to impose a limit on that text." Readers must thus separate a literary work from its creator in o rder to liberate the text from interpretive tyranny (a notion similar to Erich Auerbach's discussion of narrative tyranny in Biblical parables). Each piece of writing contains multiple layers and meanings. In a well-known quotation, Barthes draws an analogy between text and textiles, declaring that a "text is a tissue [or fabric] of quotations," drawn from "innumerable centers of culture," rather than from one, individual experience. The essential meaning of a work depends on the impressions of the reader, rather than the "passions" or "tastes" of the writer; "a text's unity lies not in its origins," or its creator, "but in its destination," or its audience. No longer the focus of creative influence, the author is merely a "scriptor" (a word Barthes uses expressly to disrupt the traditional continuity of power between the terms "author" and "authority"). The scriptor exists to produce but not to explain the work and "is born simultaneously with the text, is in no w ay equipped with a being preceding or exceeding the writing, [and] is not the subject with the book as predicate." Every work is "eternally written here and now," with each re-reading, because the "origin" of meaning lies exclusively in "language itself" and its impressions on the reader. Barthes notes that the traditional critical approach to literature raises a thorny problem: how can we detect precisely what the writer intended? His answer is that we cannot. He introduces this notion in the epigraph to the essay, taken from Honoré de Balzac's story Sarrasine in which a male protagonist mistakes a castrato for a woman and falls in love with her. When, in the passage, the character dotes over her perceived womanliness, Barthes challenges his own readers to determine who is speaking, and about what. "Is it Balzac the author professing 'literary' ideas on femininity? Is it universal wisdom? Romantic psychology? … We can never know." Writing, "the destruction of every voice," defies adherence to a single interpretation or perspective. (Barthes returned to Sarrasine in his book S/Z , where he gave the story a rigorous close reading.)
Acknowledging the presence of this idea (or variations of it) in the works of previous writers, Barthes cited in his essay the poet Stéphane Mallarmé, who said that "it is language which speaks." He also recognized Marcel Proust as being "concerned with the task of inexorably blurring…the relation between the writer and his characters"; the Surrealist movement for employing the practice of "automatic writing" to express "what the head itself is unaware of"; and the field of linguistics as a discipline for "showing that the whole of enunciation is an empty process." Barthes' articulation of the death of the author is a radical and drastic recognition of this severing of authority and authorship. Instead of discovering a "single 'theological' meaning (the 'message' of the Author-God)," readers of text discover that writing, in reality, constitutes "a multi-dimensional space," which cannot be "deciphered," only "disentangled." "Refusing to assign a 'secret,' ultimate meaning" to text "liberates what may be called an anti-theological activity, an activity that is truly revolutionary since to refuse meaning is, in the end, to refuse God and his hypostases—reason, science, law."
The Death of the Author First, the piece offers an uncompromising argument for the 'death' (or redundancy, to use an equally frightening metaphor) of the concept of the author. It begins by noticing the disappearance of the narrator in modern writing . Balzac's Sarrassine is the example here, later to be the subject of a much larger piece by Barthes (1975) (the dates refer to different English editions of Barthes' work, and are not reliable as a guide to the actual sequence of the writing). Perhaps something like Martin Amis's London Fields, with its switches between different narrators, might be more appropriate an example for the modern reader? The effects of surrealist or Brechtian expe rimentation are also cited, as steps on the way, so to speak. There is an insistence that even autobiography is not about real life coded in writing but the other way around -- e.g. Proust reconceptualised his life after or during writing in order to make it a 'work for which his own book is the model' (Barthes 1977:144). As Sturrock (1979) reminds us, Barthes wrote his own autobiography in the third person. Secondly, as structuralist linguistics tells us, texts do not express the subjectivity of their authors -- they are better thought of as 'fields without origin', 'multi-dimensional spaces', 'tissues of quotations', 'never original' (Barthes 1977: 146). This point applies to all kinds of mundane feelings of 'authorship' as well as actual novel-writing. The inner self that we experience as the 'real us' so to speak, is 'only a ready-formed dictionary' -- so life imitates books. There are no fixed meanings or privileged ones: 'writing ceaselessly posits meaning ceaselessly to evaporate it' (147). We should see the act of writing as 'performative'. As a result, conventional literary criticism, designed to uncover the 'real' meanings of novels, expressed by 'real' authors, is also abolished and that's good, because, in its arrogance, such criticism used to ignore the reader and also selectively overlook the 'phatic' bits of texts (designed to involve the reader).
The reader is the missing term in conventional criticism -- the multiplicity of the text is focused in the reader, not the author, the unity of the text is in its destination. '[T]he birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author'. Yet, to raise a point which we will discuss below, 'the reader' is also an abstraction 'without history, biography, psychology' (148). Really, of course, it could not be otherwise for Barthes: it would be inconsistent to abolish the (actual) author while retaining the (actual) reader.
From Work to Text This piece begins with an interesting comment about the effects of a move towards interdisciplinarity 'when the solidarity of the old disciplines breaks down -- perhaps even violently' (Barthes 1977: 155). We now have an escalating pattern of change, where the classic 'breaks' (attempts to re-found marxism, Lacanian freudianism, and structuralism) have relativised our knowledge of the world, and changed our notions of the relations between writers, readers and observers. There will be further changes in the basis of knowledge, a new 'epistemological slide' rather than a break (155). (Althusser had claimed to have found an 'epistemological break' between humanist and structuralist marxism in Marx himself, a break that inaugurates a new 'scientific' marxism). For Barthes, the new (literary and cultural) analysis will not be a new, tightly ordered discipline, but should be seen as necessarily speculative, employing 'not argumentations but enunciations, "touches", approaches that consent to remain metaphorical' (156), rather than an attempt to read off meaning from a metalanguage. Methodologically, we are told (164): 'the discourse on the Text should itself be nothing other than text, research, textual activity, since the Text...leaves no language safe outside, nor any subject of the enunciation in position as judge, master, confessor, decoder. The theory of the Text can coincide only with a practice of writing.' We see here one of the ways in which Barthes is shifting to a radical kind of textuality, then, one which 'goes all the way down' as Norris (1992) puts it, and one where Barthes, like Lyotard heads into a denial of any other criteria by which to judge events or accounts of them. We get to the heart of Barthes' argument when he tries to distinguish 'texts' and 'works'. The distinction is not a matter of location in time or of value or quality. Works might have different qualities among themselves, but this is not the proper topic for a critic: -- 'there is no difference between "cultured" reading and casual reading in trains' (162). By implication, for Norris, there is also no difference between such works and those in history or economics either. Works are designed to be consumed with plaisir (roughly, a rather conformist pleasure delivered by a work, gained from following the narrative to its delivery point and responding as intended). Works are 'filiated', closely connected with social practices like those in the world of commercial writing, including literary criticism and notions of authorship, ownership, copyright and the law. (This point is made in Foucault's own announcements of the 'death of the author' --collected in Bocock and Thompson 1992).
By contrast, texts are distinguished by their 'methodological fields' rather than b y anything substantially or concretely different about them or their contents. They are performances, 'limit works', existing at the limits of 'enunciation, rationality, readability etc.' (157). Texts are radically symbolic, 'off-centre, without closure (159), playful, offering jouissance (an ecstatic pleasure in language that escapes the devices of the narrative and rejoices in the experience itself, a kind of literary orgasmic release -- see Heath's discussion in the introduction to Barthes 1977). Texts help us glimpse a 'social Utopia...[a]...transparence of linguistic relations if not social ones', a 'space where no language has a hold over any other' (164). Texts operate via 'serial movements of disconnections, overlappings, variations' (158). Texts are networks (rather than discrete entities or 'organisms' with a history and parentage like works), opening out to readings well outside the author's intentions. Such openness blurs the conventional differences between reading and writing (162). The reader and the text both play with meaning, rather as a musician plays with a score, both to reproduce it and to embellish, to perform. There is here a clear preference for texts, of course, and a way of denying any claims to sufficiency advanced by any mere works
Change the Object Itself The old critical project, as in Barthes' earlier classic Mythologies (Barthes 1973) has to be altered. That earlier work followed an 'inversion model' (common in marxism, but subsequently attacked by the Althusserians -- see file), which saw connoted ideological meanings as a base for the denoted literal meanings of cultural phenomena. In this way the meanings of advertisements, performances, cultural activities of various kinds naturalised capitalist ideology. As an aside, it is worth looking at some of the pieces in Mythologies, perhaps. My personal favourite concerns a very brief analysis of what b ecame known as the 'structure of apology'. At the most specific level, the piece, entitled Operation Margarine, features an analysis of an advertising campaign for margarine which cleverly acknowledged and then incorporated the consumers' perceptions o f margarine as an inferior product (modern readers might think of substituting junk food, say, for margarine in order to locate themselves in the politics of the piece). Apparently, the advertisement began with a 'cry of indignation against margarine: "A mousse? Made with margarine? Unthinkable!"' (1973: 42). A narrative then developed which revealed these perceptions as misguided and ill-informed: 'And then one's eyes are opened, one's conscience becomes more pliable...The moral at the end is well known: "Here you are, rid of a prejudice which cost you dearly!"' (42). Barthes sees this sort of structure operating in the wider society: 'It is in the same way that the Established Order relieves you of your progressive prejudices' (42). He finds the principles at work with discussing the Army or the Church, for example (41) (and implicates some popular novels in the process):
'...[on] the Church: speak with burning zeal about its self-righteousness, the narrowmindedness of its bigots, indicate that all of this can be murderous, hide none of the weaknesses of the faith. And then, in extremis, hint that the letter of the law, however unattractive, is a way to salvation for its very victims, and so justify moral austerity by the saintliness of those whom it crushes (The Living Room, by Graham Greene).' This sort of analysis had made Barthes very influential, and perhaps it is easy to see why from the example above: a mundane advertisement is made to yield some concealed truth about capitalism following a skilled and sceptical reading which refuses to simply follow the account of the world on offer, but which imposes its own. Now, to return to Change the Object Itself , Barthes feels it is time to move beyond this sort of analysis of mythology as a mystified or an upside-down world, as inversion. This analysis was drawn from themes in the young Marx, but we can now progress to those in the mature Marx (another specific reference to Althusser's project here, Barthes 1977 : 169). Mythology still works in the same way, but we now have a new science of reading it. Also: 'any student can and does denounce the bourgeois or petit bourgeois character of such and such a form' (166). Denunciatory discourse and demystification have been routinised, have become a mere 'stock of phrases', orthodox, even mythological themselves. As a result, properly academic and critical analysis must go further and 'shake the sign' itself, just as French psychology has moved on: that began by listing the symbolic contents of dreams and so on, and 're-inverting' them, only to find that being done these days by mere dabblers, the 'psychological vulgate' (167). The task now is not to reveal latent meanings but to 'fissure' meaning and its representation, not to destroy myths ('mythoclasm'), but to splinter the smooth connections between signs ('semioclasm'), not to critique just French society but the whole of Western civilisation and its unifying 'regime of meaning' (167). This is a project to dissolve any 'works' back into 'textuality', in other words. Apart from being made possible by the new methodological work available, this shift is necessary because the signs of advertisements no longer point to products nor to political ideologies as simply as they did. The whole world is already playing with signs: 'endlessly deferring their foundations, transforming signifieds into new signifiers, infinitely citing one another' (167--8). The issue now is not one of 'critical decipherment' but of estimating the 'levels of reification of various languages, their 'phraseological density' . We have an interest, then, in the extent to which these different 'languages' can appear as fixed, immutable, natural and compelling, as 'works' making claims to be sufficient, to use the terms we developed above. This is a shift from a more obviously 'denunciatory' stance, with its problems of separating out the error of the myth from the truth of its analysis. In a way, Barthes here is anticipating the failure of the Althusserian project, perhaps, which was the last great attempt to clarify the basis for marxism's claims to be able to offer a 'science' to help us identify 'ideology' or 'myth' (one of the last great metanarratives in Lyotard's terms).
Myth is still universal in our societies, affecting 'inner speech, newspaper articles ... political sermons, [running] from the novel to the ad vertising image (i.e. all the imaginary)' (169). We need new concepts to grasp it, not the old ones of sign, signifier, signified, connotation and denotation, but 'citation, reference, stereotype'. We need to offer an 'antidote to myth', and its reifications, languages which are 'airy, light, spaced, open, uncentred, noble and free' (168), a 'new semiology'. READER'S GUIDE TO FOUCAULT'S "WHAT IS AN AUTHOR"? The title
Even with his title, Foucault is being provocative, taking a given and turning it into a problem. His question ("What is an Author?") might even seem pointless at first, so accustomed have we all become to thinking about authors and authorship. Section 1: 101-5
In the first few paragraphs, Foucault responds to some of our most basic assumptions about authorship. In the first paragraph, for exa mple, Foucault reminds us that although we regard the concept of authorship as "solid and fundamental," that concept hasn't always existed. It "came into being," Foucau lt explains, at a particular moment in history, and it may pass out of being at some future moment. In addition to touching on our tendency to view the concept of authorship as "solid," Foucault also seems to take up our habit of thinking about authors as individuals, heroic figures who somehow transcend or step outside history. Why, he wonders, are we so strongly inclined to view authors in that way? Why are we often so resistant to the notion that authors are products of their times? (As I make these points, incidentally, I'm not by any means trying to imply that you should be picking up on them as you read Foucault. He is moving very quickly here, leaving much unsaid.) On pages 103-5, Foucault does some jousting. First, he mixes it up with Roland Barthes, a very famous literary critic, who had recently proclaimed the "death of the author." According to Foucault, Barthes had urged other critics to realize that they could "do without [the author] and study the work itself" (104). This urging, Foucault implies, sounds a lot more radical than it really is. (If you'd like to see for yourself, there's a copy of "Death of the Author" on reserve.) Next, on 104-5, Foucault turns his attention to Derrida-- without ever mentioning his rival by name. Foucault claims that although Derrida (like Barthes) presents his views as radical, they are in truth quite conventional. Indeed, Foucault suggests, Derrida never really gets rid of the author, but instead merely reassigns the author's powers and privileges to "writing" or to "language itself." Now, why does he bother to do all this? Well, partly because he enjoys a fight, and partly because he doesn't want his readers to assume that authorship is a "dead issue," a problem
that's already been solved by Barthes and Derrida. His aim here is to show that, despite all of their bombast, neither Barthes nor Derrida has broken away from the question of the author--much less solved it. Section 2: 105-8
In this section, Foucault asks us to think about the ways in which an author's name "functions" in our society. After raising questions about the functions of proper names, he goes on to say that the names of authors often serve a "classifactory" function. To get a sense of what he means, just think about how the average bookstore is laid out. If you were to go to the fiction section at Conkey's, looking for a copy of Oliver Twist , chances are that you wouldn't search for books about workhouses, or books written in 1837, or books that are 489 pages long. You'd search for books written by Charles Dickens. It probably wouldn't even occur to you to make your search in any other way. Now, Foucault asks, why do you--why do most of us--assume that it's "natural" for Conkey's to classify books according to the names of their authors? While you're mulling over that one, think about this: What would happen to Oliver Twist if scholars were to discover that it hadn't been written by Charles Dickens? Wouldn't most bookstores, and wouldn't most of us, feel that the novel would have to be reclassified in light of that discovery? Why should we feel that way? After all, the words of the novel wouldn't have changed, would they? Foucault closes this section by introducing his concept of the "author function." Note that the "author function" is not a person and is not to be confused with either the "author" or the "writer." The "author function" is more like a set of beliefs or assumptions governing the production, circulation, classification and consumption of texts. (Put another way, it's the thing that makes us want to know about the author of a poem--and never think of asking about the author of a commercial or a contract.) Section 3: 108-13
Here, Foucault identifies and describes four characteristics of the "author function." The characteristics are, briefly: 1. The "author function" is linked to the legal system and arises as a result of the need to punish those responsible for transgressive statements. 2. The "author function" does not affect all texts in the same way. For example, it doesn't seem to affect scientific texts as much as it affects literary texts. If a chemistry teacher is talking about the periodic table, you probably wouldn't stop her and say, "Wait a minute--who's the author of this table?" If I'm talking about a poem, however, you might very well stop me and ask me about its author.
3. The "author function" is more complex than it seems to be. This is one of the most difficult points in the essay, and in thinking about it, you might want to consider what Foucault says about the editorial problem of attribution-- the problem of deciding whether or not a given text should be attributed to a particular author. This problem may seem rather trivial, since most of the literary texts that we study have already been reliably attributed to an author. Imagine, however, a case in which a scholar discovered a long-forgotten poem whose author was completely unknown. Imagine, furthermore, that the scholar had a hunch that the author of the poem was William Shakespeare. What would the scholar have to do, what rules would she have to observe, what standards would she have to meet, in order to convince everyone else that she was right? A few years ago, this imaginary situation became a reality, when a scholar named Gary Taylor suddenly announced that he had rediscovered a longlong Shakespeare poem. Many, many people viewed Taylor's announcement with skepticism, and in arguing against Taylor, they did resort (without realizing it, of course) to the "criteria of authenticity" proposed by St. Jerome and listed by Foucault on page 111. They argued, for instance, that the poem wasn't good enough to have been authored by Shakespeare--on the assumption, I gather, that Shakespeare was somehow incapable of sinking below a certain level of literary excellence. It may help to keep this sort of situation in mind, as you try to make sense of this third characteristic of the "author function." 4. The term "author" doesn't refer purely and simply to a real individual. The "author" is much like the "narrator," Foucault suggests, in that he or she can be an "alter ego" for the actual flesh-and-blood "writer." If you're unsure of what Foucault means by any of this, check out his own summary on page 113. And if you're unclear about a little point here or there, don't worry. The main thing is that you understand his main goal for this section--which is to describe four main characteristics of the "author function." Section 4: 113-7
Here, Foucault takes off in a different direction, and his aim now is to show that the "author function" applies not just to individual works, but also to larger discourses. This, then, is the famous section on "founders of discursivity"--guys like Marx or Freud who produce their own texts, plus "the possibilities or the rules for the formation of other texts." I don't think that this issue is particularly difficult, so I won't belabor it. I do want to comment, however, on what Foucault has to say about science. According to Foucault, scientists can't really be "founders of discursivity." In making that statement,
Foucault seems to be distinguishing scientific discourses (in which there are, he suggests, a limited number of possible statements) from discourses like that of psychoanalysis (in which the number of possible statements is not and cannot be limited). I'm not sure that I understand everything he has to say about this issue, but I do feel pretty sure of that much. Section 5: 117-20
In this section, Foucault wraps things up and points out a few reasons why he's bothered with this particular subject in the first place. He raises the possibility of doing a "historical analysis of discourse," and he notes that the "author function" has operated differently in different places and at different times. His comments about the "subject" are hard to decipher, and I'm not sure that they need to be decoded in full. Just remember that he began this essay by questioning our tendency to imagine "authors" as individuals isolated from the rest of society. He's raising the same sort of question here--and also taking a further step, suggesting that if we stop thinking of authors as isolated individuals, we may also be able to stop thinking of other people and kinds of people in that way. (Here, one might hear a faint echo of Marxism, which often tends to see individual preferences and tastes as products of larger social forces.) Near the end of the essay, Foucault argues that the author is not a source of infinite meaning, as we often like to imagine, but rather part of a larger system of beliefs that serve to limit and restrict meaning. In pondering this idea, think about how we might appeal to ideas of "authorial intention" in order to limit what someone might say abo ut a text, or mark some interpretations and commentaries as illegitimate. At the very end, Foucault returns to Barthes and agrees that the "author function" may soon "disappear." He does not suggest, however, that the limiting and restrictive "author function," we will have some kind of absolute freedom. One set of restrictions and limits will give way to another set, Foucault insists, since there must and will always be some "system of constraint" working upon us. In his The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes argues that critics up until his time have been not the sages, but the ruiners of Literature. His essay could have been easily called The Death of the Critic, or even The Rape of the Text . He describes Critics as a destructive force to texts, and that their inclusion of information be yond (or rather, beneath) the texts to which these critics cast their own pens is destructive to the very texts they examine. When describing the work of the Critic, Barthes repeatedly uses language which brings destruction to mind, including the words "decipher " (or code-breaking ), " pierce," and "evaporate." He further describes a text as a delicate, even ephemeral thing, comparing it first to a tissue, and then to the threads of a stocking. It is as if a text is a membrane that a writer holds before him for examination (reading, not criticism), and that these Critics, in their search for the author, must tear their way through the text in order to examine him.
In contrast, although Barthes calls this idea "the death of the author," the language used to describe the process of this death is far more gentle, even passive. The author is not in fact, torn, pierced, or destroyed, he simply "diminishes like a figurine at the far end of the literary stage." Since the text stands between the author and the reader, the author is not harmed by his "death". He simply goes unseen. Barthes, in fact, lays no guilt at all on the writer for this destruction of text. It is the Critic upon whom culpability is set. It is the Critic who has brought the writer (who upon publication is as immediately distanced from the text as any other reader) into the realm of examination. The reason, Barthes explains, for the inclusion of the Author into analysis of his work, is that when the actual life experiences, attitudes, and emotions of the Author are included in an analysis, the Critic can claim that these attitudes and emotions represent the True Meaning of the text. This penetration of the text deflates it and closes it to further scrutiny. It seems then to Barthes that either the Author or the text must be removed from the process for this destructive scrutiny to end. In removing the Author from analysis of a text, Barthes simultaneously preserves all texts for further study, reopening the closed books, and also overturns the idea of the "Critic", authorizing (forgive the pun) all readers to be critical of what they read. Since without an Author there can no longer be an "authoritative viewpoint", all viewpoints are valid, and texts are therefore not only reassembled, but broadened to limitless "disentanglings" by any number of Readers. It is this new figure, that of the Reader , which can emerge after the removal of the Author and the Critic, and it is to this Reader that all texts are directed. Barthes says "the true place of writing is reading," and this, to him, seems as important as any other idea about a Text. It is is the reading (not in the person who in some unseen and distant place and time put the text to paper), that the text comes to life. A text still tied to its Author is either unfinished or not to be read by the public. A text to be read by the public is therefore severed from the hand of the Author by necessity, and the Reader is born.