Synopses & Reviews
“In the sentence ‘Shes no longer suffering, to what, to whom does ‘she refer? What does that present tense mean?” —Roland Barthes, from his diary
The day after his mothers death in October 1977, Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning. For nearly two years, the legendary French theorist wrote about a solitude new to him; about the ebb and flow of sadness; about the slow pace of mourning, and life reclaimed through writing. Named a Top 10 Book of 2010 by The New York Times and one of the Best Books of 2010 by Slate and The Times Literary Supplement, Mourning Diary is a major discovery in Roland Barthess work: a skeleton key to the themes he tackled throughout his life, as well as a unique study of grief—intimate, deeply moving, and universal.
"These penseÃŒÂes on the process of grieving the loss of a mother are an invitation to eavesdrop on a densely qualified (in the finest sense) rational mind touched by eternal loss. While continuing his life work, the great French cultural critic Barthes (Mythologies) kept notes of sadness and selfreflection on slips of paper. This fragmentary book begins the night after his mother's death; informing it all is the presence of absence. Although conflicted by the very process of making literature from grief, Barthes (1915 1980) contemplates such day-to-day, unexpected spells of sadness as living in an empty apartment; how the role reversal of caring for a dying parent affected him; the larger mysteries of time; and his own generalized mental state ('Not even the desire to commit suicide'). Compiler and annotator LeÃŒÂger is to be commended, as is redoubtable translator Howard, who, in a nostalgic afterword, describes both his experience with Barthes's mother, Henriette, and the relative merits of the craft of rendering any book into another language. This volume is both a window into the soul of a philosopher and a unique contribution to the inspirational literature of the adult child left behind. 8 pages of b&w illus. (Oct. 19)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
“A belated and unexpected gift.” —The London Review of Books
“A writer whose books of criticism and personal musings must be admired as serious and beautiful works of the imagination.” —EDMUND WHITE
“Though Barthes left behind disciples, there can be no replacing him; his brilliance has a wavelength all its own.” —JOHN UPDIKE “This is pure Barthes: to write the very words that show how and why words have failed him.” —Thomas Larson, Contrary Magazine
“A revelation to readers of the great Barthes.” —Judith Thurman, The New Yorker podcast
“This books unvarnished quality is the source of its wrecking cumulative power. Barthess ironic intellect is here wrapped around his nakedly beating heart.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Precise and touching memories intersect with spare and at times desperate notes on time, death and grief, written despite ‘the fear of making literature out of it.” —Julian Barnes, The Times Literary Supplement
“A collection of aphorisms, sadnesses, self-analysis: a journal of savage intimacy.” —Adam Thirlwell, The New Republic
“A beautiful, lapidary portrait of mourning.” —Meghan ORourke, Slate
A major discovery: The lost diary of a great mind—and an intimate, deeply moving study of grief
The day after his mothers death in October 1977, the influential philosopher Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning. Taking notes on index cards as was his habit, he reflected on a new solitude, on the ebb and flow of sadness, and on modern societys dismissal of grief. These 330 cards, published here for the first time, prove a skeleton key to the themes he tackled throughout his work. Behind the unflagging mind, “the most consistently intelligent, important, and useful literary critic to have emerged anywhere” (Susan Sontag), lay a deeply sensitive man who cherished his mother with a devotion unknown even to his closest friends.
The day after his mother's death in 1977, the influential philosopher Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning, taking notes on index cards. These 330 cards, published here for the first time, provide a skeleton key to the themes he tackled throughout his work.
A New York Times Top 10 Book of 2010 and a Slate and Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2010, Mourning Diary gathers the notes Roland Barthes took for two years after his mothers death. It is a major discovery in the French theorists work: a skeleton key to the themes he tackled throughout his life, as well as a unique study of grief—intimate, deeply moving, and universal.
About the Author
Roland Barthes was born in 1915. A French literary theorist, philosopher, and critic, he influenced the development of various schools of theory, including structuralism, semiotics, existentialism, social theory, Marxism, and post-structuralism. He died in 1980.