As the launcher of the whole science of "semiotics" - the study of the meanings latent in the signs and objects we come across daily in the modern media-saturated world - this book attempts to demystify the roles and values inherent in such diverse commonplace items as wrestling, Citroen DS, steak and chips, Greta Garbo's face and household ...
As the launcher of the whole science of "semiotics" - the study of the meanings latent in the signs and objects we come across daily in the modern media-saturated world - this book attempts to demystify the roles and values inherent in such diverse commonplace items as wrestling, Citroen DS, steak and chips, Greta Garbo's face and household detergents via a series of essays. The essays themselves became cultural icons, and the book became a cult object. It is now studied on many courses in higher education as an emblematic text of post-war French culture, and as the precursor of the late-20th-century preoccupation with the language of signs and gestures in mass culture.
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This book is a collection of essays on popular culture written by Barthes in the late 1950's. It doesn't feel dated, though; everything he says makes perfect sense. The general gist of the work is that blatantly political images are presented in such a way that their implications seem like natural fact, rather than as a social construct. "Myth is depoliticized speech," Barthes says; not speech without political intent but stripped of any appearance of political intent. Therein lies its danger.
The work itself consists of several essays on various topics ranging from wrestling and popular movies to the presentations of food and toys. These give the reader a view into Barthes's method of critique. They are also quite often funny; theory doesn't have to be tedious. The final essay, "Myth Today", elaborates on the method of analysis that Barthes uses. It will change the way you look at the world, almost guaranteed.
Publishers Weekly, 2012-01-09 This new edition brings into English for the first time all of the essays in the groundbreaking Mythologies by French semiotician and critic Barthes, translated by the redoubtable Howard (Flowers of Evil), and joins them with Lavers's earlier translation of Barthes's accompanying analytical essay, "Myth Today." Barthes examined mass culture, its ads and hidden or disguised messages, its icons and politics, its desperate speed in the mid-1950s. With several exceptions, these pensees are in delectable, bite-sized pieces. Though very much of their time, these essays tell us a lot about how we might intellectually navigate our own century. When the specifics are unfamiliar to a non-French reader, unobtrusive and cogent notes identify the individuals and issues. By framing the mythic in the quotidian, Barthes examines everything from detergent ("dirt is a sickly little enemy which flees from good clean linens at the first sign of Omo's judgment") to professional wrestling ("Wrestling is not a sport, it is a spectacle"), Garbo's face ("virtually sexless, without being at all 'dubious' "), Billy Graham, the Tour de France, a French striptease, plastics, and onward. With so much new material now included, this volume is not an unabridged reissue so much as a celebration anew. 16 pages of b&w illus. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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