Roland Barthes

(1915_1980 / Cherbourg-Octeville)

Roland Barthes Quotes

  • ''The photographic image ... is a message without a code.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. repr. In Image Music Text (1977). "The Photographic Message," no. 1, Communications (Paris, 1961).
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  • ''There are people who think that wrestling is an ignoble sport. Wrestling is not sport, it is a spectacle, and it is no more ignoble to attend a wrestled performance of suffering than a performance of the sorrows of Arnolphe or Andromaque.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. "The World of Wrestling," Mythologies (1957, trans. 1972). "What wrestling is above all meant to portray," Barthes added, "is a purely moral concept: that of justice. The idea of 'paying' is essential to wrestling, and the crowd's 'Give it to him' means above all else 'Make him pay.'..."
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  • ''Wine is a part of society because it provides a basis not only for a morality but also for an environment; it is an ornament in the slightest ceremonials of French daily life, from the snack ... to the feast, from the conversation at the local café to the speech at a formal dinner''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. "Wine and Milk," Mythologies (1957, trans. 1972).
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  • ''The skyscraper establishes the block, the block creates the street, the street offers itself to man.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. repr. In The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies, trans. by Richard Howard (1979). "Buffet Finishes off New York," Arts (Paris, 1959).
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  • ''New York ... is a city of geometric heights, a petrified desert of grids and lattices, an inferno of greenish abstraction under a flat sky, a real Metropolis from which man is absent by his very accumulation.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. repr. In The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies, trans. by Richard Howard (1979). "Buffet Finishes Off New York," Arts (Paris, 1959).
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  • ''Literature is without proofs. By which it must be understood that it cannot prove, not only what it says, but even that it is worth the trouble of saying it.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. repr. In Barthes: Selected Writings (1982). "Deliberation," Tel Quel (Paris, Winter 1979).
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  • ''What the Journal posits is not the tragic question, the Madman's question: "Who am I?", but the comic question, the Bewildered Man's question: "Am I?" A comic—a comedian, that's what the Journal keeper is.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. repr. In Barthes: Selected Writings (1982). "Deliberation," no. 82, Tel Quel, Paris (Winter 1979).
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  • ''To try to write love is to confront the muck of language: that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive ... and impoverished.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. "Inexpressible Love," A Lover's Discourse (1977, trans. 1979).
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  • ''Language is legislation, speech is its code. We do not see the power which is in speech because we forget that all speech is a classification, and that all classifications are oppressive.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. inaugural lecture, Jan. 7, 1977, Collège de France; repr. In Barthes: Selected Writings (1982). Lecon (1978).
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  • ''There is only one way left to escape the alienation of present day society: to retreat ahead of it.''
    Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. "Modern," The Pleasure of the Text (1975).
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