Writing cedes the agency to the reader

Tags: Writing Literature

The author of a text is unable to act (unilaterally, at least) through that text. They cede their agency to the reader who is capable of interpreting and responding to the text; therefore, according to Barthes, the author is dead at the moment the text is consumed. The text itself is an assemblage of quotations, of influences, of citations; there is no text that is not these subordinate parts (from the author's point of view). It is only the reader that can give the assemblage full coherence.

Hence, the author is dead at the point at which the reader takes control of the meaning of the text.

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Barthes 1986