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What Is Sport?by Roland Barthes
Synopses & Reviews
A little-known gem, the text of Barthesand#8217;s What Is Sport? was never reprinted in the Seuil editions of his Complete Worksand#151;neither the three-volume version nor the later five-volume edition. It is published here in a graceful and faithful English translation by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Howard. Originally commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporationand#160;as the text for a documentary film directed by Hubert Aquin, What Is Sport? was written three years after the publication of Barthesand#8217;s Mythologies (1957) and bears considerable resemblance to that work. Some of Barthesand#8217;s best writing seems to have been inspired by popular culture.
Once again blurring the distinction between high and low, the great French literary theorist muses philosophically on the question: What is sport? In investigating the phenomenon of sport, Barthes considers five national sports: bullfighting (Spain), car racing (America), cycling (France), hockey (Canada), and soccer (England). For Barthes, sport is spectacle and serves the primary social function that theater once did in antiquity, collecting a city or nation within a shared experience. The real pleasure of this book, however, lies less in its generalities than in its fleeting, strangely haunting moments of insight. It makes an appropriate gift for any sport enthusiast as well as those interested in the writing of Roland Barthes.
In this elegant paperback gift edition, one of the major figures of 20th-century French literature and thought offers a poetic meditation on professional sport.
About the Author
Roland Barthes (1915-1980) was one of the most influential French writers of the second half of the twentieth century. His seminal works include Writing Degree Zero, Mythologies, Criticism and Truth, S/Z, The Pleasure of the Text, and The Rustle of Language. Richard Howard is the author of eleven volumes of poetry, including Untitled Subjects, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. He has published more than 150 translations from the French, including Baudelaireand#8217;s Les Fleurs du mal, for which he received the 1983 American Book Award for translation.
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