Barthes answers his own question after asking who speaks in Balzac’s novel: the reader can never know because, “…writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin” (1322). If writing is the destruction of origin, then it means that the Author must be dead since the Author is the origin of the text. Barthes indicates this by replacing the idea of an Author (capitol A) with the “modern scriptor” (1324).

Barthes’s idea echoes Lacan in the way that both perceive language giving subjectivity; language isn’t just a tool that the Author uses to communicate; rather, before the Author can use language, it is determining the way He thinks (there is no consciousness outside of language). Language is already imbued with structures, angles, values, priorities, etc.. The idea of a capitol A Author conveying inherent meaning is impossible because (for Lacan, there is no Subject that does not have lack, precisely because of language) language is, as Saussure elucidated, arbitrary. Language only means by deferral (and to jump ahead to Derrida by Differance: both deferral and difference).

Barthes traces the idea of an Author-God back to the reformation; therefore, the very idea of an Author is a historical-cultural construct. This construct posits the Author as the owner of his/her work as if she/he created the language with which the work was created. Barthes points out how this view limits a text, supplying the text a final signified (1325). This view makes criticism a game of simply finding the writer in the work.

The death of the Author opens up reading and the complicity of language. A text is not composed of a Meaning that can be traced back to an Author-God; this would imply that Meaning is outside of language. Language produces meanings rather than reflects language. Therefore, the Author dies, and the Meaning the Author “intended” goes with him/her, and meaning(s) are found in the reader: “A text’s unity lies not in tis origin but its destination” (1325). I like to think of this as the death of Capitol T Truth Meaning for the birth of little t truth meaning.

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