Criticism and Truth by Roland Barthes

By Roland Barthes

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47 At the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales. 48 "Work programme for the Tricolores [French rugby team]: structure the pack, develop our heeling technique, re-examine the problem of the throw-in" (L'Equipe, 1 Dec. 1965). H. Simon, Le Monde, 1 Dec. 1965, and J. Piatier, Le Monde, 23 Oct. 1965. 50 Picard, p. 52. 51 Warning youth against "the moral illusions and confusions" spread by the "books of the time". 52 Picard, p. 117. 53 Picard, pp. 104,122. 54 "The abstraction of this new criticism, inhuman and anti-literary" (Revue parlementaire, 15 Nov.

Science, Criticism, Reading—these are the three kinds of discourse we must traverse in order to weave around the work its garland of language. THE SCIENCE OF LITERATURE We have a history of literature but not a science of literature, no doubt because we have not yet been able fully to recognize the nature of the literary object, which is a written object. As soon as one is prepared to allow (and to draw the consequences of the fact) that the work is made from writing, a certain kind of literary science is possible.

What poets have long known by the name of suggestion or evocation the linguist is beginning to approach, thus giving a scientific status to floating meanings. R. Jakobson has insisted on the constitutive ambiguity of the poetic (literary) message; that is to say that this ambiguity is not a matter of an aesthetic opinion on the "freedoms" of interpretation and even less of a moral censure of the risks of interpretation, but it does mean that this ambiguity can be formulated in terms of a code: the symbolic language to which literary works belong is by its very structure a plural language whose code is constructed in such a way that every utterance (every work) engendered by it has multiple meanings.

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