“Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.”
This is a book that is worth reading for the introduction by Susan Sontag alone, but that would be a disservice to the excellent group of essays by Roland Barthes that she selected for inclusion in this reader. The opening essay, "On Gide and His Journal", won me over with its insights into one of my favorite authors. The remaining essays range from Tacitus to Racine to Garbo which should provide some idea of the breadth of Barthes' interest and intellect. There are also judicious selections from The Pleasure of the Text and A Lover's Discourse that will leave you wanting more. The penultimate selection is Barthes' "Inaugural Lecture" given at the establishment of the chair of Semiology at the College de France. In it Barthes describes his current age as one of "unlearning" and uses these words to describe this experience, which I believe apply to much of this book: "a little knowledge, a little wisdom, and as much flavor as possible."
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