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Mourning Diary

Mourning Diary

Roland Barthes; Translated from the French and with an afterword by Richard Howard

Hill and Wang


"In the sentence ‘She's no longer suffering,' to what, to whom does ‘she' refer? What does that present tense mean?" —Roland Barthes, from his diary

The day after his mother's death in October 1977, Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning. For nearly two years, the legendary French theorist wrote about a solitude new to him; about the ebb and flow of sadness; about the slow pace of mourning, and life reclaimed through writing. Named a Top 10 Book of 2010 by The New York Times and one of the Best Books of 2010 by Slate and The Times Literary Supplement, Mourning Diary is a major discovery in Roland Barthes's work: a skeleton key to the themes he tackled throughout his life, as well as a unique study of grief—intimate, deeply moving, and universal.

October 26, 1977–June 21, 1978

October 26, 1977
First wedding night.
But first mourning night?

October 27
—You have never known a Woman's body!
—I have known the body...

Praise for Mourning Diary

“A revelation to readers of the great Barthes.” —Judith Thurman, The New Yorker podcast

“This book's unvarnished quality is the source of its wrecking cumulative power. Barthes's ironic intellect is here wrapped around his nakedly beating heart.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Precise and touching memories intersect with spare and at times desperate notes on time, death and grief, written despite ‘the fear of making literature out of it.'” —Julian Barnes, The Times Literary Supplement

“A collection of aphorisms, sadnesses, self-analysis: a journal of savage intimacy.” —Adam Thirlwell, The New Republic

“A beautiful, lapidary portrait of mourning.” —Meghan O'Rourke, Slate


Reviews from Goodreads

Roland Barthes; Translated from the French and with an afterword by Richard Howard

Roland Barthes (1915-1980) was a French cultural and literary critic, whose clever and lyrical writings on semiotics made structuralism one of the leading movements of the twentieth century. Barthes had a cult following and published seventeen books, including Camera Lucida, Mythologies, and A Lover's Discourse.

Roland Barthes

Hill and Wang

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