The Death of the Author

To what extent ought we to separate art and artist?

Ed Noble
Thoughts And Ideas

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In 1967 the French literary critic Roland Barthes wrote an essay titled “The Death of the Author”, in which he explored the link between a writer and their writings. This was in consideration of how an author’s background, experiences and beliefs influences the work they produce, and in turn affects how we interpret a text. Barthes’ view was that such acceptance of the influence imposes a limit on the text. To him, writing and language are greater than any single writer — indeed he writes:

Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing.

To him, an author is merely a “scriptor”, who exists to produce but not to explain the work. This scriptor is “born simulateously with the text”; a lack of temporality is important to Barthes. Every work is “eternally written here and now,” with each re-reading, because the origin of meaning lies exclusively in “language itself” and its impressions on the reader. This view seems to detract from the creator, but it is done so with reverence to the work; art is always greater than that which made it.

What are the implications of such a separation? It certainly goes against our…

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Ed Noble
Thoughts And Ideas

I write about philosophy, psychology and ethics. I live and work in London, having previously studied physics. Started writing in lockdown.