The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida

By SeÁn Burke | Go to book overview

Epilogue

TECHNOLOGY AND THE POLITICS OF READING

With data systems for user interactivity and geometrically
variable hypertext, the reader is no longer simply spectator,
one who looks at meaning through the page's window in
rectangle, from the outside, but coauthor of what he reads, a
second writer and active partner. He can enter into the
landscape of meaning and modify its architecture as he
wishes. Once monologue, the text becomes dialogue. It loses
its mass, is privatized. It is no longer a static invariant, a road
travelled in a given direction, recorded once and for all.
Rather, it is a moving mosaic (text, image, sound), an unpre-
dictable sequence of bifurcations, a nonhierarchical,
unpredetermined crossroads where each reader can invent his
own course along a network of communication nodes …
Perhaps in fact, hypertext will be the ultrademocratic, father-
less and propertyless, borderless and customs-free text, which
everyone can manipulate and which can be disseminated
everywhere.

Régis Debray, 'The Book as Symbolic Object'1

'Cemeteries take what they are given', Victor Hugo warns in Les Misérables, and just as literary studies seemed to be developing away from the antiauthorialism of the 1960s, technological visionaries have attempted yet another premature burial of the author. In 1992, George P. Landow's Hypertext2 alerted the literary-theoretical and technological communities to a 'remarkable convergence of social, technological, and theoretical pressures'.3 Landow argues that hypertext technology constitutes a literal embodiment of theory's textual concepts. The fact that the theoretical questioning of the culture of the book undertaken by Barthes,

-192-

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The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Death and Return of the Author - Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to Second Edition viii
  • Prologue: The Deaths of Paul de Man 1
  • Introduction: A Prehistory of the Death of the Author 8
  • 1: The Birth of the Reader 20
  • 2: The Author and the Death of Man 62
  • 3: Misread Intentions 116
  • Conclusion: Critic and Author 172
  • Epilogue 192
  • Notes 207
  • Bibliography 239
  • Index 252
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