PRINT May 1980

Three Oblique Situations

IN THE BEGINNING IS the word, as interpreted by Roland Barthes, means “the death of the author” for “writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin.”1 Barthes traces the origin of this theory to Mallarmé, whose “entire poetics consist in suppressing the author in the interest of writing.” Furthermore, this removal "utterly transforms the modern text. . . . We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single theological meaning (the message of the author God) but a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash.2

As a Marxist, Barthes should have noted that the author belongs to history, not to linguistics. We know from history that Aeschylus invented a new form of writing by selecting three members from the Dionysian chorus to act out human antagonisms. The heart of democracy beats faster when its citizens

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