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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 Ordinary Writing

Barthes’s Ordinary Writing

(p.288) 18 Barthes’s Ordinary Writing
Interdisciplinary Barthes

Tiphaine Samoyault

British Academy

This chapter presents a picture of Barthes that for two reasons has not been written about before: first, it comes from the archive the author was able to explore whilst preparing a biography of Barthes; second, it derives from a part of Barthes’s writing he kept separate from the rest. This part is called ‘ordinary’ because it corresponds to those modest gestures of writing we all share: writing letters, postcards, to-do lists, notes, messages, or shopping lists. In Barthes, it is a kind of writing cut off from the rest, but that silently accompanies literary or intellectual production. His early habit of methodically recording his academic research on fiches develops into the production of the enormous self-archive he maintained all his life, a repository of things seen, read, and heard, of thoughts and projects, of impressions of places and people, of quotations he liked, or of bedside scribbles. This fichier is a malleable form absorbing all forms of ordinary writing, a kind of hypertextual document allowing flexibility for infinite redistribution, and the chapter concludes with discussion of Barthes’s diary-writing practice and its relation to the tenacious reworking of notes, plans, and fiches for the projected ‘novel’ he called Vita nova.

Keywords:   Roland Barthes, ordinary writing, archive, fichier, self-archive, hypertextual document, diary-writing, Vita nova

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