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R. Barthes and M. Foucault on genesis of a category of authorship

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2017. Vol. 6. No. 3. Pp. 230-241.
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Peshkov I. V.
Russian State University for the Humanities
6 Miusskaya Square, 125993 Moscow, Russia


In the end of the 60s Roland Barth, Julia Kristeva, and Michel Foucault provoked a rising tide of interest in the problem of literary authorship that almost was forgotten by western literary criticism at the time. The French scientists (except Michel Foucault) said a little new in essence comparing with the school of “new criticism”, in which at least since the 20s of the last century the concept of author was driven to periphery of literary work. Roland Barth simply announces that author is dead. The most important issue being elicited from the articles written by Roland Barth and Michel Foucault on the theory of authorship can be sound like this: the category of author is not an eternal but historically coming entity and its genesis started not earlier than in early Modern age. The examples regarded by Michel Foucault unambiguously lead to the phenomenon of William Shakespeare. Michel Foucault had underlined that a “function of author” is the constitutive part of any literary work. However, this category (or function) does not exist a priori; it needs a complicate procedure, which differs for different literary works and ages. This procedure is not the mere index to the concrete human being. The reason is not in the fact that these beings can be counted more than one or the name on the title does not belong to any of human beings. The matter is the author ought to be connected with the literary work in a special way.


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