Mythologies by Roland BarthesNo denunciation without its proper instrument of close analysis, Roland Barthes wrote in his preface to Mythologies. There is no more proper instrument of analysis of our contemporary myths than this book—one of the most significant works in French theory, and one that has transformed the way readers and philosophers view the world around them.
Our age is a triumph of codification. We own devices that bring the world to the command of our fingertips. We have access to boundless information and prodigious quantities of stuff. We decide to like or not, to believe or not, to buy or not. We pick and choose. We think we are free. Yet all around us, in pop culture, politics, mainstream media, and advertising, there are codes and symbols that govern our choices. They are the fabrications of consumer society. They express myths of success, well-being, and happiness. As Barthes sees it, these myths must be carefully deciphered, and debunked.
What Barthes discerned in mass media, the fashion of plastic, and the politics of postcolonial France applies with equal force to todays social networks, the iPhone, and the images of 9/11. This new edition of Mythologies, complete and beautifully rendered by the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, critic, and translator Richard Howard, is a consecration of Barthess classic—a lesson in clairvoyance that is more relevant now than ever.
These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Published in , Mythologies is a collection of individual essays linked by a common theme: the study of meaning that can be interpreted from signs. The result is one of the foundation documents of the social science known as semiotics. The essays that make up Mythologies certainly one of the shortest texts to ever make such a profound influence upon the world were originally published as magazine articles in French between and The subject of the essays are invariably prosaic obsessions of modern culture which often verge on seeming to possess no possibility of any kind deeper meaning: professional wrestling, photograph of food to accompany article about cooking in glossy magazines, French travel guides and even advertising for washing detergents. Except for an essay on the representation of Romans in Hollywood movies, there is precious little reference to mythology in Mythologies.
He argues that a Myth enables a sense of normality, and it has the ability to make dominant discourses whether it is historical, cultural values or certain beliefs. This highlights the idea that symbols can represent deeper meanings rather than accepting the text on face value. Barthes interprets myth as metalanguage which is used to describe or analyse language — a discourse in order to understand other discourses. He uses the discussion of connotation and denotation to further explore metalanguages. Thus the concept is only re-presenting itself and it is this that allows mythologists to decode myth. The argument here is that without linguistics you cannot have myth; as linguistics signs are erratic and can evolve from anything.
The second section of Roland Barthes' "Mythologies", titled "Myth Today", is a theoretical discussion of Barthes' program for myth analysis.
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Mythologies is a book by Roland Barthes. It is a collection of essays taken from Les Lettres nouvelles , examining the tendency of contemporary social value systems to create modern myths. Barthes also looks at the semiology of the process of myth creation, updating Ferdinand de Saussure 's system of sign analysis by adding a second level where signs are elevated to the level of myth. Mythologies is split into two: Mythologies and Myth Today, the first section consisting of a collection of essays on selected modern myths and the second further and general analysis of the concept. The first section of Mythologies describes a selection of modern cultural phenomena, chosen for their status as modern myths and for the added meaning that has been conferred upon them. Each short chapter analyses one such myth, ranging from Einstein's Brain to Soap Powders and Detergents.