Barthes and Utopia explores the central role of utopias throughout the work of Roland Barthes, from demystification to structuralism, from textuality and sexual hedonism to his final preoccupation with love and mourning. Utopia mediates the supposed phases of Barthes career, just as it mediates the two sides of his work which are often misleadingly separated: his political and ethical concerns (his desire to invent social values for the world), and his creative project of writing. In short, to take detours via hypothetical utopias was Barthes's way of writing the world. Diana knight follows him through the everyday spaces of Mythologies, through euphoric visions of the city, through the semiological and sexual utopias of the 'orient', to the metaphorical south-west of his childhood and the writerly, maternal spaces of his late work. The range of texts studied in Barthes and Utopia is unusually wide, and incorporates discussion of the plans for his so-called Vita Nova-Barthes's final, mysterious writing project. Barthes and Utopia takes us to the heart of Barthes's imaginative processes, of his affective world and idiosyncratic value system.
But, because Utopia is the meeting point of Barthes's lifelong concern with the relationship between history, language, and sexuality, this study also inserts Barthes's work into larger political and theoretical concerns, in particular into ongoing debates around Orientalism and homosexuality.
Publisher: Oxford University Press