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Not bad, but insufficiently footnoted and too narrow in focus
This article is, as they say, a start, and I'm glad it wasn't me who tried to describe the main phases of Barthes' thought. But, apart from the fact that there are worryingly few inline citations for a biographical article (a less friendly editor would tear the guts out of this article for the sheer number of unsourced assertions it makes), the focus seems to be too narrow. It's almost entirely about Barthes as a figure from the academy, and there's very little reference to the way that even shortly after his death, when Sontag was putting the Barthes Reader together, he was starting to appear as less of an academic maverick (not that he was much of a maverick in the first place) and more of a traditional homme des lettres. I'm thinking of the way writers such as Italo Calvino and Geoff Dyer have paid tribute, in different ways, to Barthes' more personal books: A Lover's Discourse, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida etc. and indeed have regarded them more highly than books such as Elements of Semiology or essays like Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives, or whatever. (S/Z is a remarkable book, but does anybody ever read it more than once?) This comment was inspired by a jacket quote from Terry Eagleton on the back of my copy of The Semiotic Challenge, in which Eagleton makes Barthes out to be a kind of inspired literary terrorist who was turning the academy upside-down; that particular way of thinking about Barthes seems very much a product of its time and place, i.e. the Eng Lit departments of English-speaking universities in Britain and the USA during the 70s and 80s. For these and other reasons, although I greatly admire Barthes and indeed love some of his stuff, I think this article gives insufficient space to criticism of his work. There hasn't been a lot of very coherent criticism of his work that didn't have a transparent ideological agenda, but for the article to be properly encyclopedic and not just a tribute to the man, more space should be given to his critics. Lexo (talk) 10:26, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
In the introduction and the body of the article it was said that Barthes influenced the development of existentialism and Marxism. I took this out. Existentialism was fully developed by the time Barthes started publishing in the mid-'50s. Which changes to existentialism resulted from Barthes work? I think his influence on how Marxism developed is pretty remote too: at the very least, these claims need supporting citations.WebHorizon (talk) 15:38, 31 January 2012 (UTC)Webhorizons
The article uses both "Barthes's" and "Barthes'" as the possessive form. Given the pronunciation [baʁt], I would have thought the former was preferable. Shouldn't this be standardized throughout the article? Trivial, but it's disconcerting once you notice it. --DjR (talk) 10:50, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
Not a lot of criticism in the criticism section, maybe add Simon Leys' response to Barthes?
The issue of "the criticism section" is a source of perennial debate on Wikipedia and I understand the conflict about it (couldn't the criticisms be better incorporated into the main body of the article? etc) but, as long as we have a criticism section for Roland Barthes, we might as well make it a good one. As things currently stand, the section in question contains only a single criticism, a fairly tame attack on Barthes' take on Voltaire. Now, I have in front of me The Hall of Uselessness, a collection of essays by sinologist and literary critic Simon Leys, which includes a vigorous attack on Barthes' diary of his trip to China. The Wiki article does make reference to Barthes' trip, but only in passing, and without touching on what Leys considers to be the morally troubling nature of Barthes' experiences there. Now, I'm reluctant to make sizable changes in content to Wiki articles without seeking out other opinions, so I'll wait on this one for about a week, but if no one objects, I think Leys' criticisms of Barthes in China would really help to broaden the scope of the "Criticism" section. Objections, opinions? Tigercompanion25 (talk) 16:44, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
As there were no objections, I added Leys' criticism. Tigercompanion25 (talk) 17:10, 1 May 2015 (UTC)