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Distributed for Seagull Books

"A Very Fine Gift" and Other Writings on Theory

Essays and Interviews, Volume 1

Roland Barthes, whose centenary falls in 2015, was a restless, protean thinker. A constant innovator, often as a daring smuggler of ideas from one discipline to another, he first gained an audience with his pithy essays on mass culture and then went on to produce some of the most suggestive and stimulating cultural criticism of the late twentieth century, including Empire of Signs, The Pleasure of the Text, and Camera Lucida. In 1976, this one time structuralist outsider was elected to a chair at France’s preeminent Collège de France, where he chose to style himself as professor of literary semiology until his death in 1980.

The greater part of Barthes’s published writings have been available to a French audience since 2002, but here, translator Chris Turner presents a collection of essays, interviews, prefaces, book reviews, and other journalistic material for the first time in English. Divided into five themed volumes, readers are presented in volume one, ‘A Very Fine Gift’ and Other Writings on Theory, with Barthes’s attempts to frame his lifelong curiosities in theoretical form, from his early musings on the sociology of literature through his high period of structuralism to his later reflections on Derrida.

168 pages | 5 x 8 1/2 | © 2015

The French List

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

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Table of Contents

Should Grammar Be Killed Off?
A Brief Sociology of the Contemporary French Novel
An Innovation in Criticism
New Problems of Realism
Works of Mass Culture and Explication de Texte
The Human Sciences and the Works of Lévi-Strauss
Mass Culture, High Culture
Response to a Survey on Structuralism
A Dialectical Writing Practice
Interview on Structuralism
Linguistics and Literature
Ten Reasons to Write
A Problematic of Meaning
The Linguistics of Discourse
On Theory
A Very Fine Gift
Letter to Jean Ristat
For a Theory of Reading
A Kind of Manual Labour
Foreword to ‘Jakobson’
Relations between Fiction and Criticism according to Roger Laporte

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