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

Famous As: French Literary Theorist Best Known for His Essay Collection 'Mythologies' and His Essay 'The Death of the Author'
Born On: November 12, 1915
Died On: March 25, 1980
Born In: Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, France
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.

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

Roland Barthes
Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering.

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.

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.

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...?

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
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?

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.

...language is never innocent.

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

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

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.

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.

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

Roland Barthes
…the book creates meaning, the meaning creates life.

…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.

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.

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.

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.

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,

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.

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.

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.

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

Roland Barthes
The incapacity to name is a good symptom of disturbance.

The incapacity to name is a good symptom of disturbance.

Roland Barthes
I have not a desire but a need for solitude.

I have not a desire but a need for solitude.

Roland Barthes
What love lays bare in me is energy.

What love lays bare in me is energy.

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

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

Roland Barthes
Every exploration is an appropriation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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... ?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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”).

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.

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

Roland Barthes
I can't get to know you

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
Frontiers are physical as well as symbolic constructions

Frontiers are physical as well as symbolic constructions

Roland Barthes
I ask for nothing but to live in my suffering.

I ask for nothing but to live in my suffering.

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

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

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.

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
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.

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
Incoherence seems to me preferable to a distorting order.

Incoherence seems to me preferable to a distorting order.

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

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

Roland Barthes
What I hide by my language, my body utters.

What I hide by my language, my body utters.

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

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?

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.

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.

Isolation and competition are inhospitable to learning.

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

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

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.

...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.

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

Roland Barthes
I pass lightly through the reactionary darkness.

I pass lightly through the reactionary darkness.

Roland Barthes
I have a disease; I see language.

I have a disease; I see language.

Roland Barthes
Above all, do not attempt to be exhaustive.

Above all, do not attempt to be exhaustive.

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

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

Roland Barthes
The grim
egoism (egotism)
of mourning
of suffering

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.

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.

[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.

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]

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
Engulfment is a moment of hypnosis.

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.

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.

[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.

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.

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.

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

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)...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Roland Barthes