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Interdisciplinary Barthes$
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Diana Knight

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266670

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266670.001.0001

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Barthes and ‘Subtle Forms of Living’

Barthes and ‘Subtle Forms of Living’

(p.154) 10 Barthes and ‘Subtle Forms of Living’
Interdisciplinary Barthes

Marielle Macé

British Academy

A life cannot be dissociated from its forms (its ways, regimes, spaces, and rhythms) for these forms are also ideas of what life should be. This question is keenly felt today, especially in our ways of experiencing politics: we need ‘other sorts of life’, ‘other ways of living’, other rhythms and connections. Yet these phrases are often emptied of their meaning: they are the stock-in-trade of advertising, which allows us to dream of passing from one lifestyle to another without regard for the ethical complexity of what Pavese called ‘the business of living’. Roland Barthes helps us here. Right from his sanatorium years, and all that it cost him to become aware, so young, of the life made for us by daily routines, food, the weather, our ways of relating to others, and through to La Préparation du roman (which reflected on how everyday life must be organised to lead to a literary work), Barthes was always conscious of the seriousness of what the forms of living entail, in all their precision and detail. This chapter tracks the constancy of this conviction in Barthes’s trajectory, from the early sanatorium correspondence to Comment vivre ensemble and Journal de deuil.

Keywords:   Roland Barthes, forms of living, everyday life, ethical complexity, sanatorium, La Préparation du roman, Comment vivre ensemble, Journal de deuil

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