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The Death of the Author Roland Barthes Barthes posits that once the act of writing occurs the

e intentions of the Author cease to exist, and it is the Readers interpretation that is legitimate. Barthes rejection of the Author as the sole and definitive interpreter of text results from his meditation on Mallarme: language is to replace the Author, because it is language that performs. Barthes further goes onto explicate that as language is performed, the Author is removed from reading because they are before the act of reading: they think, suffer, live for the text, but they cease to exist temporally when the Readers interpretation occurs.

Barthes reading of an excerpt from Balzacs Sarrasine underpins his idea that the Reader cannot be sure what the intention of the Author was because of how vague certain texts can be. The indeterminate gender of the castrato in Sarrasine provoked Barthes into questioning the earlier idea in literature that the Authors interpretation is the sole and definitive interpretation of the text and its exact, determinate meaning. Barthes utilises a number of rhetorical questions to firstly interrogate the assumptions that a Reader might imagine and secondly to highlight the multiplicity of meaning within even the shortest of excerpts in a text.

Barthes furthers the removal of the Author from the interpretation of text by lauding Surrealism because of its decrial of writing with a pre-conceived interpretation; rather, to write quickly as possible automatic writing in order to create an unexpected realisation of encoded meaning by the Reader. The role of linguistics also comes into play: enunciation is useless in the act of reading, mandating that there is then no need for the Author, or their interpretation. The text becomes independent of

the Authors voice; the Author is not confiding in the Reader, because the text is speaking to the Reader, independent of the Author.

Following the dismissal of the Author as the sole definer of a text, Barthes redefines the Author as a scriptor one who writes a text, but doesnt explain it. Each reading and re-reading is a different interpretation and, likely, an interpretation different from the Author/scriptor. Barthes conceptualises the notion of the scriptor, as it correlates with his idea that defining a text by giving it an Author limits the extent a text could grow to and quell the multiplicities of interpretations that alternative readings could result.

Barthes returns to the quotation from Balzacs Sarrasine and applies his observations to the excerpt. The Reader cannot intuit or interpret what the Author intended; rather, the Reader determines the interpretation of the text because they exist in a field in which these multiplicities gather. Barthes emphasises the multiplicity of interpretation to confirm his idea that the Reader is the sole and definitive interpreter of a text.