Paragraph 31 (1):109-120 (2008)

Jonathan Culler
Cornell University
La Préparation du roman, Barthes's course at the Collège de France which was interrupted by his death in 1980, announces a change of life: not giving up analysing literature and culture to write a novel but `preparing the novel', working as if he were going to write a novel. Barthes's approach to the novel is quite singular. With no interest in narrative, nor in extracting the meaning from experience, he treats the novel as a sort of notation, and perversely takes Haiku as a model. This new project constitutes in many respects a regression to literary and cultural ideas Barthes had previously rejected. Most seriously, it involves a turn away from reflection on language, which had been crucial to Barthes's work. But there are other ways in which the change in approach brings new insights to a thinking of the novel and of literature.
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DOI 10.3366/e0264833408000114
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