Birth of the Reader at the Death of the Author

Many may view the death of anything as a negative; however, the death of the author as described in Barthes’ article is very occurring in today’s literary works and can sometimes have a greater impact on the reader than the author’s presence alone.

One of the things that Barthes emphasized was that when “this disconnection occurs, the voices loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins.” I agree with this stance and I especially believe that it is evident in some of the works that we have read such as Joyce’s Afternoon and Danielewski House of Leaves. In both of these stories the reader is able to take away his or her personal interpretation as oppose to many stories that have a known author throughout making the argument of x, y, or z.

Further, after reading this article I started to wonder, “Does the author even matter even matter if their position in the story is not apparent?”  At first I thought it did not matter. My reasoning was because the readers would be able to formulate their own opinions without any biases on who the author is, what the author does, or the other contributions they made to the literary world. Then I started to think that the author is important and their contributions do matter for a number of reasons. For instance, knowing more about the author can help readers better understand the themes of the story or what the author would convey. And for me when our class found on a little bit more on Johnny I thought that his narration (although unreliable at times) was all the more interesting. Ultimately, I feel that as long as the readers are able to gain something from reader the story, then it does not matter whether or not the author is present.

Barthes stated that, “Once the author is removed, the claim to decipher becomes quite futile.” However, I believe that at this point the claim to decipher a text is at its greatest because there are endless interpretations the readers could create.

“A text lies not in its origin but its destination” therefore I believe the end result should be the reader making their own interpretation and gaining something for the reading. Although I do not believe this to be true in all cases I do think the death of the author may be necessary for the birth of the reader in some cases.

One Comment on “Birth of the Reader at the Death of the Author”

  1. Brian Croxall says:

    Do you think that we felt the influence of the author less in afternoon and HoL because they were such experimental pieces of literature? Or is there something about these books being written in the last 20-25 years? Or is it something else entirely?