The Death of the Auteur Essay

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“The Death of the Auteur”
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The concept of ‘author’ is originally derived from the Latin word for
authority. From the theoretician’s standpoint, the author carries power over the
text only to the extent that the ideas and scenarios within it are originally those of
the author. French literary theorist Roland Barthes argues that the function of an
author is to provide the semblance of originality and meaning in The Death of the
Author.
“Writing is the destruction of every voice, of every origin. Writing is
the 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.” (Barthes 1466)
The basis for Barthes’ argument is the writing of
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(Saussure 972-977)
“Everything that has been said up to this point boils down to
this: in language there are only differences. Even more
important, a difference generally implies positive terms
between which the difference is set up; but in language there
are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take
the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor
sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only
conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from the
system.” (Saussure 972)
The application of this idea to Barthes’ work is in the very essence of the
idea of the death of the author: the rejection of the assumption that the
ideas we commit to a certain name are the product of solely their own
conjecture and its manifestations.
“As soon as a fact is narrated no longer with a view to acting
directly on reality but intransitively, that is to say, finally outside of
any function other than that of the very practice of the symbol itself,
this disconnection occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author
enters into his own death, writing begins.” (Barthes 1466)
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Saussurean logic continues on this theme to the extent that the arbitrary
nature of the sign is indicative of the situation of an individual that operates
within the linguistic system, and their helplessness and passivity in relation
to the signs that compose their…