Barthes and Utopia: Space, Travel, Writing

Hardcover | February 1, 1997

byDiana Knight

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Barthes and Utopia explores the central role of utopias throughout the work of Roland Barthes, from demystification to structuralism, from textuality and sexual hedonism to his final preoccupation with love and mourning. Utopia mediates the supposed phases of Barthes career, just as itmediates the two sides of his work which are often misleadingly separated: his political and ethical concerns (his desire to invent social values for the world), and his creative project of writing. In short, to take detours via hypothetical utopias was Barthes's way of writing the world. Dianaknight follows him through the everyday spaces of Mythologies, through euphoric visions of the city, through the semiological and sexual utopias of the `orient', to the metaphorical south-west of his childhood and the writerly, maternal spaces of his late work. The range of texts studied in Barthes and Utopia is unusually wide, and incorporates discussion of the plans for his so-called Vita Nova--Barthes's final, mysterious writing project. Barthes and Utopia takes us to the heart of Barthes's imaginative processes, of his affective world andidiosyncratic value system. But, because Utopia is the meeting point of Barthes's lifelong concern with the relationship between history, language, and sexuality, this study also inserts Barthes's work into larger political and theoretical concerns, in particular into ongoing debates aroundOrientalism and homosexuality.

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Barthes and Utopia explores the central role of utopias throughout the work of Roland Barthes, from demystification to structuralism, from textuality and sexual hedonism to his final preoccupation with love and mourning. Utopia mediates the supposed phases of Barthes career, just as itmediates the two sides of his work which are often...

Diana Knight is at University of Nottingham.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:298 pages, 8.43 × 5.43 × 0.83 inPublished:February 1, 1997Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198158890

ISBN - 13:9780198158899

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`One of the special merits of the book is the meticulous attention to detail ... Our understanding of well-known texts is renewed by careful analysis of apparently marginal pieces. Subtle intertextual relationships are charted with great delicacy ... the care, the patient attentiveness withwhich she handles the text of Barthes, has in itself something of a utopian dimension. All readers, in the true sense, of Barthes will be in her debt.'Michael Moriarty, Queen Mary and Westfield College, MLR, Vol 93, no 3, 1998