Eric’s Writing Blog

The writing blog of Eric Rosenfield

Reading “Writing Degree Zero” by Roland Barthes

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Writing, free in its beginnings, is finally the bond which links the writer to a History which is itself in chains: society stamps upon him the unmistakable signs of art so as to draw him along the more inescapably in its own process of alienation.

The conception of style as craftsmanship has produced a mode of sub-writing, derived from Flaubert, but adapted to the aims of the Naturalist school. This writing, which is that of Maupassant, Zola and Daudet and which could be called the realist mode of writing, is a combination of the formal signs of Literature (preterite, indirect speech, the rhythm of the written language) and of the no less formal signs of realism (incongruous snippets of popular speech, strong language or dialect words, etc.), so that no mode of writing was more artificial than that which set out to give the most accurate description of Nature. This is no mere stylistic failure but one of theory as well: there is, in the Naturalist aesthetic, a convention of the real, just as there is a fabrication in its writing.

Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero


Written by ericrosenfield

August 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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