Roland Barthes

French literary theorist, essayist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician (1915–1980)

Roland Gérard Barthes (/bɑːrt/;[1] French: [ʁɔlɑ̃ baʁt]; 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980[2]) was a French philosopher.


Roland Barthes was born in 1915 Cherbourg in Normandy. His father was killed during World War I before his first birthday. He was raised by his mother, his aunt and grandmother in Bayonne. Barthes moved to Paris at the age of 11 with his family. Barthes was student in literature from 1935 to 1939 at the Sorbonne.


In 1948, he taught with short-time positions at institutes in France, Romania, and Egypt. Then he studied lexicology and sociology and began to write bi-monthly essays for the magazine Les Lettres Nouvelles, a collection that was published in 1957. Consisting of fifty-four short essays, between 1954–1956, Mythologies were acute reflections of French popular culture ranging from an analysis on soap detergents to a dissection of popular wrestling.[3] Barthes taught at Middlebury College in 1957 and befriended the English translator of his work, Richard Howard, in New York City.[4] He taught in his classes at Middlebury. Michelet and Writing Degree Zero were published in France.

Barthes developed his literary criticism with new ideals of textuality and novelistic neutrality. In 1971, he was a professor at the University of Geneva and also taught at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS).


Here are some of his works:

  • (1953) Le degré zéro de l'écriture
  • (1954) Michelet par lui-même
  • (1978) Préface, La Parole Intermédiaire, F. Flahault, Seuil: Paris
  • (1980) Recherche de Proust, Editions du Seuil: Paris.
  • (1982) Littérature et réalité, Editions du Seuil: Paris.
  • (1988) Michelet, Editions du Seuil: Paris.


  1. "Barthes". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. McQuillan, Martin (2011). Roland Barthes. Macmillan International Higher Education. pp. 10, 29. ISBN 9780230343894.
  3. Huppatz, D.J. (2011). "Roland Barthes, Mythologies". Design and Culture. 3 (1): 85–100. doi:10.2752/175470810X12863771378833. S2CID 144391627.
  4. Richard Howard. "Remembering Roland Barthes," The Nation (20 November 1982): "Mutual friends brought us together in 1957. He came to my door in the summer of that year, disconcerted by his classes at Middlebury (teaching students unaccustomed to a visitor with no English to speak of) and bearing, by way of introduction, a fresh-printed copy of Mythologies. (Michelet and Writing Degree Zero had already been published in France, but he was not yet known in America—not even in most French departments. Middlebury was enterprising.)" Reprinted in Signs in Culture: Roland Barthes Today, edited by Steven Ungar and Betty R. McGraw, University of Iowa Press, 1989, p. 32 (ISBN 0-877-45245-8).

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