The Death of the Author(ity)


In 1967, Roland Barthes proclaimed that the death of “the Author” had finally come. In fact, “the Reader” of a text, Barthes claimed, could only truly exist, liberated and free, once the Author was dead. Why? “True Meaning” or purpose was bound up in one’s own reconstruction of the Author. Just as one can imagine a Deity standing over her creation, giving function and purpose (see Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics), so too can one mold an Author, standing over her textual landscape, marking the boundaries of interpretation, causing all readers to tremble at the proliferation of meaning, and proclaiming to all the proud expositors “Thus far, and no farther!” An intimate relationship to the illusory Author (read Authority), means one can claim to know the secret intents of the Author, and, thus, the true meaning of the text. In this way, knowledge/power is produced to serve the interests of those appealing to the imagined Author, as they illuminate the text with a light that doesn’t exist.


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