The Seventh Function of Language
Laurent Binet; Translated from the French by Sam Taylor
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
From the prizewinning author of HHhH, “the most insolent novel of the year” (L’Express)
Paris, 1980. The literary critic Roland Barthes dies—struck by a laundry van—after lunch with the presidential candidate François Mitterand. The world of letters mourns a tragic accident. But what if it wasn’t an accident at all? What if Barthes was . . . murdered?
In The Seventh Function of Language, Laurent Binet spins a madcap secret history of the French intelligentsia, starring such luminaries as Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Julia Kristeva—as well as the hapless police detective Jacques Bayard, whose new case will plunge him into the depths of literary theory (starting with the French version of Roland Barthes for Dummies). Soon Bayard finds himself in search of a lost manuscript by the linguist Roman Jakobson on the mysterious “seventh function of language.”
A brilliantly erudite comedy that recalls Flaubert’s Parrot and The Name of the Rose—with more than a dash of TheDa Vinci Code—The Seventh Function of Language takes us from the cafés of Saint-Germain to the corridors of Cornell University, and into the duels and orgies of the Logos Club, a secret philosophical society that dates to the Roman Empire. Binet has written both a send-up and a wildly exuberant celebration of the French intellectual tradition.
Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, The Guardian (UK) Best Books of the Year, The Economist Magazine Books of the Year, Hudson Booksellers Best of the Year, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Guide to the 100 Best Books of the Year, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - Nominee, NPR Best Book of the Year
Life is not a novel. Or at least you would like to believe so. Roland Barthes walks up Rue de Bièvre. The greatest literary critic of the twentieth century has every reason to feel anxious...