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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’s Menippean Moment: Creative Criticism 1966–70

Barthes’s Menippean Moment: Creative Criticism 1966–70

(p.231) 15 Barthes’s Menippean Moment: Creative Criticism 1966–70
Interdisciplinary Barthes

Andy Stafford

British Academy

Using an unpublished seminar that Roland Barthes delivered in 1966–7, this chapter considers the challenge to rewrite, re-use, and ‘re-cover’ other writers’ texts. It shows, first in Critique et vérité, then across the seminar ‘La linguistique du discours’, and finally in the 1970 essay S/Z, that Barthes was developing a creative, literary-critical, practice rather than promoting ‘la nouvelle critique’. In this spirit of creative criticism, using Kristeva, Bakhtin, and Menippus, Barthes designed his radical approach to Balzac in S/Z. An egregious reading of Barthes’s approach notwithstanding (Bremond and Pavel, 1998), three elements are identified in his essayistic rewriting of Balzac’s Sarrasine that point to creative criticism: digression, drama, and historiality. These techniques allow Barthes’s essay both to distance and bring nearer the ‘tutor-text’ Sarrasine which, written in 1830, raised important questions about the cusp of modernity, and how to write criticism as literature.

Keywords:   Roland Barthes, creative criticism, Critique et vérité, ‘La linguistique du discours’, Menippus, Kristeva, Bakhtin, S/Z, Balzac, digression

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