A Lover's Discourse Fragments

Roland Barthes; Translated from the French by Richard Howard; Foreword by Wayne Koestenbaum

Hill and Wang



Trade Paperback

256 Pages



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The language of love is one of solitude and mythology. Spoken universally, it seems to the lover to belong to him only; addressed to the beloved, it reveals more of the amorous subject than it does of the obscure object ot his desire. Roland Barthes's most popular book, A Lover's Discourse, was revolutionary upon its 1978 publication: in it, Barthes, "one of the great public teachers of our time" (Peter Brooks), made unprecedented use of the tools of structuralism to explore the whimsical phenomenon of love and its corollary, the lover's discourse. Rich with references ranging from Goethe's Werther to Freud, from Plato to Proust, from Nietzsche to Baudelaire to Schubert, A Lover's Discourse artfully draws a portrait of the lover in which readers will recognize themselves.


Praise for A Lover's Discourse

"Barthes's most popular and unusual performance as a writer is A Lover's Discourse, a writing out of the discourse of love. This language—primarily the complaints and reflections of the lover when alone, not exchanges of a lover with his or her partner—is unfashionable. Thought it is spoken by millions of people, diffused in our popular romances and television programs as well as in serious literature, there is no institution that explores, maintains, modifies, judges, repeats, and otherwise assumes responsibility for this discourse . . . Writing out the figures of a neglected discourse, Barthes surprises us in A Lover's Discourse by making love, in its most absurd and sentimental forms, an object of interest."—Jonathan Culler

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Roland Barthes; Translated from the French by Richard Howard; Foreword by Wayne Koestenbaum

  • Roland Barthes was born in 1915 and studied French literature and the classics at the University of Paris. After teaching French at universities in Romania and Egypt, he joined the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, where he devoted himself to research in sociology and lexicology. He was a professor at the College de France until his death in 1980.

  • Richard Howard Copyright Stephen Barker