Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of quotes by Roland Barthes about life, love, relationship, culture, literature and humanity.

86 Inspirational Quotes By Roland Barthes That Will Touch Every Aspect Of Your Life

Quick Facts

Famous As: French Literary Theorist & Philosopher

Born On: November 12, 1915

Died On: March 25, 1980

Born In: Cherbourg-Octeville

Died At Age: 64

Roland Barthes was a pioneer literary theorist, philosopher and linguist whose works had a profound impact on structuralism, semiotics and anthropology. Here are a few interesting facts from the life of this renowned mythologist.

He wrote on a variety of faux passes --  plastic, strip tease, wrestling, steak and chips and “the new Citroen" -- existing in the twentieth century to disenchant citizens against advertising. 

The theorist used everyday objects such as mushrooming brands of detergents to explain consumerism and how businesses are exploiting people through advertising.

The essayist was a huge fan of Havana cigars and one could easily spot him with a stick.

Barthes was vocal against the abuse of advertisement. Ironically, he was killed by a laundry truck which bore a banner advertising the laundry. He met with the fatal accident while he was returning from the lunch hosted by future President of France Francois Mitterrand.

In the segment below we bring to you inspirational quotes by the famous French literary theorist Roland Barthes.

I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.

Roland Barthes

Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering.

Roland Barthes

Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.

Roland Barthes

I encounter millions of bodies in my life; of these millions, I may desire some hundreds; but of these hundreds, I love only one.

Roland Barthes

To whom could I put this question (with any hope of an answer)? Does being able to live without someone you loved mean you loved her less than you thought...?

Roland Barthes

What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially.

Roland Barthes

Someone tells me: this kind of love is not viable. But how can you evaluate viability? Why is the viable a Good Thing? Why is it better to last than to burn?

Roland Barthes

...language is never innocent.

Roland Barthes

The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition... always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning.

Roland Barthes

The lover's fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.

Roland Barthes

…the book creates meaning, the meaning creates life.

Roland Barthes

This endured absence is nothing more or less than forgetfulness. I am, intermittently, unfaithful. This is the condition of my survival.

Roland Barthes

Don't say mourning. It's too psychoanalytic. I'm not mourning. I'm suffering.

Roland Barthes

I make the other’s absence responsible for my worldliness.

Roland Barthes

Isn’t the most sensitive point of this mourning the fact that I must lose a language — the amorous language? No more ‘I love you’s.

Roland Barthes

To make someone wait: the constant prerogative of all power, "age-old pastime of humanity".

Roland Barthes

We know that the war against intelligence is always waged in the name of common sense.

Roland Barthes

Writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin.

Roland Barthes

All of a sudden it didn't bother me not being modern.

Roland Barthes

The incapacity to name is a good symptom of disturbance.

Roland Barthes

Literature is that which he can not read without pain, without choking on truth.

Roland Barthes

I have not a desire but a need for solitude.

Roland Barthes

What love lays bare in me is energy.

Roland Barthes

Every exploration is an appropriation.

Roland Barthes

As a language, Garbo's singularity was of the order of the concept, that of Audrey Hepburn is of the order of the substance; the face of Garbo is an Idea, that of Hepburn, an Event.

Roland Barthes

All those young photographers who are at work in the world, determined upon the capture of actuality, do not know that they are agents of Death.

Roland Barthes

Literature is without proofs. By which it must be understood that it cannot prove, not only what it says, but even that it is worth the trouble of saying it.

Roland Barthes

What I claim is to live to the full the contradiction of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth.

Roland Barthes

Suicide How would I know I don’t suffer any more, if I’m dead?

Roland Barthes

We don’t forget, but something vacant settles in us.

Roland Barthes

To whom can I put this question (with any hopes of an answer)? Does being able to live without someone you loved mean you loved her less than you thought... ?

Roland Barthes

If I had to create a god, I would lend him a “slow understanding”: a kind of drip-by-drip understanding of problems. People who understand quickly frighten me.

Roland Barthes

To try to write love is to confront the muck of language: that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive and impoverished.

Roland Barthes

The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture.

Roland Barthes

A light without shadow generates an emotion without reserve.

Roland Barthes

Absence is the figure of privation; simultaneously, I desire and I need. Desire is squashed against need: that is the obsessive phenomenon of all amorous sentiment.

Roland Barthes

I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time.

Roland Barthes

Are not couturiers the poets who, from year to year, from strophe to strophe, write the anthem of the feminine body?

Roland Barthes

I live in my suffering and that makes me happy. Anything that keeps me from living in my suffering is unbearable to me.

Roland Barthes

Don’t bleach language, savour it instead. Stroke it gently or even groom it, but don’t “purify” it.

Roland Barthes

I am either lacerated or ill at ease and occasionally subject to gusts of life.

Roland Barthes

It must always be considered as though spoken by a character in a novel

Roland Barthes

Everyone is “extremely nice”—and yet I feel entirely alone. (“Abandonitis”).

Roland Barthes

As soon as someone dies, frenzied construction of the future (shifting furniture, etc.): futuromania.

Roland Barthes

I can't get to know you" means "I shall never know what you really think of me." I cannot decipher you because I do not know how you decipher me.

Roland Barthes

I ask for nothing but to live in my suffering.

Roland Barthes

The text you write must prove to me that it desires me.

Roland Barthes

There is nothing in discourse that is not to be found in a sentence.

Roland Barthes

Painting can feign reality without having seen it. Discourse combines signs which have referents, of course, but these referents can be and are most often 'chimeras.

Roland Barthes

Frontiers are physical as well as symbolic constructions

Roland Barthes

The pleasure of the text is that moment when my body pursues its own ideas—for my body does not have the same ideas as I do.

Roland Barthes

Literature is like phosphorus: it shines with its maximum brilliance and the moment when it attempts to die.

Roland Barthes

In the sentence “She’s no longer suffering,” to what, to whom does “she” refer? What does that present tense mean?

Roland Barthes

We know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.

Roland Barthes

Isolation and competition are inhospitable to learning.

Roland Barthes

A photograph is always invisible, it is not it that we see.

Roland Barthes

...that ambiguous area of culture where something unfailingly political, though separate from the political choices of the day, infiltrates judgment and language.

Roland Barthes

It is my desire I desire, and the loved being is no more than its tool.

Roland Barthes

A creative writer is one for whom writing is a problem.

Roland Barthes

I pass lightly through the reactionary darkness.

Roland Barthes

What I hide by my language, my body utters.

Roland Barthes

To see someone who does not see is the best way to be intensely aware of what he does not see.

Roland Barthes

Incoherence seems to me preferable to a distorting order.

Roland Barthes

The grim egoism (egotism) of mourning of suffering

Roland Barthes

Ci che reclamo vivere la piena contraddizione del mio tempo, che mai cos bene ha reso al sarcasmo la condizione della verit.

Roland Barthes

[T]he more technology develops the diffusion of information (and notably of images), the more it provides the means of masking the constructed meaning under the appearance of the given meaning.

Roland Barthes

Language is neither reactionary nor progressive; it is quite simply fascist; for fascism does not prevent speech, it compels speech.

Roland Barthes

What affects me most powerfully: mourning in layers—a kind of sclerosis. [Which means: no depth. Layers of surface—or rather, each layer: a totality. Units]

Roland Barthes

The cultural work done in the past by gods and epic sagas is now done by laundry-detergent commercials and comic-strip character

Roland Barthes

Engulfment is a moment of hypnosis.

Roland Barthes

Literature is that neuter, that composite, that oblique into which every subject escapes, the trap where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes.

Roland Barthes

[T]he most repugnant bastard there is: the bastard-octopus.

Roland Barthes

Now take all the delights of the earth, melt them into one single delight, and cast it entire into a single man - all this will be as nothing to the delight of which I speak.

Roland Barthes

The author enters into his own death, writing begins.

Roland Barthes

Like man himself, who is the only one not to know his own glance, the [Eiffel] Tower is the only blind point f the total optical system of which it is the center and Paris the circumference.

Roland Barthes

I have a disease; I see language.

Roland Barthes

To instil into the Established Order the complacent portrayal of its drawbacks has nowadays become a paradoxical but incontrovertible means of exalting it.

Roland Barthes

The (i)studium(i) is ultimately always coded, the (i)punctum is not)...

Roland Barthes

Afternoon with Michel, sorting maman’s belongings. Began the day by looking at her photographs. A cruel mourning begins again (but had never ended). To begin again without resting. Sisyphus.

Roland Barthes

Around 6 p.m.: the apartment is warm, clean, well-lit, pleasant. I make it that way, energetically, devotedly (enjoying it bitterly): henceforth and forever I am my own mother.

Roland Barthes

Today there is no symbolic compensation for old age, no recognition of a specific value: wisdom, perceptiveness, experience, vision.

Roland Barthes

—You have never known a Woman’s body! —I have known the body of my mother, sick and then dying.

Roland Barthes

Above all, do not attempt to be exhaustive.

Roland Barthes

My claim is to live to the full contradiction of my time

Roland Barthes