Barthes and the Bourgeoisie Term Paper by Master Researcher

Barthes and the Bourgeoisie
A discussion on Roland Barthes' critique of works and texts in his essay "From Work to Text".
# 35555 | 775 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2002 | US

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The paper looks at how in his essay "From Work to Text", Roland Barthes explains how our ideas about literature, and our relation to this subject, have evolved through the centuries. The paper explains how he attacks the debasement of reading that has occurred within bourgeois society; with reference to Marxist theory, he cites the reduction of 'works' to mere objects of consumption. The paper also points out that in his definition of 'texts', Barthes demonstrates how literature can transcend the class boundaries and inevitable exploitation that exist within the structures of reading just as they do in the commercial world.

From the Paper:

"Barthes' intriguing remark that "The work is normally the object of a consumption" (Barthes 161) relies on a key distinction he makes between 'work' and 'text'. As he defines these terms earlier in his essay, "the work can be held in the hand; the text is held in language, only exists in the movement of discourse" (157); "the text is radically symbolic: a work conceived, perceived and received in its integrally symbolic nature is a text" (159). According to Barthes, therefore, there is something material about works, while texts are immaterial. It would seem, then, that only works may be objects of consumption - material that can be consumed by people, just as, for instance, bread or clothes are consumed -- and are therefore eligible for a Marxist critique which takes into account how this material is produced, distributed, and consumed, particularly in regard to the issues of class and its various modes of exploitation."

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