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Mourning Diary

Mourning Diary

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

Hill and Wang


A major discovery: The lost diary of a great mind—and an intimate, deeply moving study of grief

The day after his mother's death in October 1977, the influential philosopher Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning. Taking notes on index cards as was his habit, he reflected on a new solitude, on the ebb and flow of sadness, and on modern society's dismissal of grief. These 330 cards, published here for the first time, prove a skeleton key to the themes he tackled throughout his work. Behind the unflagging mind, "the most consistently intelligent, important, and useful literary critic to have emerged anywhere" (Susan Sontag), lay a deeply sensitive man who cherished his mother with a devotion unknown even to his closest friends.

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 belated and unexpected gift.” —The London Review of Books

“A writer whose books of criticism and personal musings must be admired as serious and beautiful works of the imagination.” —Edmund White

“Though Barthes left behind disciples, there can be no replacing him; his brilliance has a wavelength all its own.” —JOHN UPDIKE

“This is pure Barthes: to write the very words that show how and why words have failed him.” —Thomas Larson, Contrary Magazine


Reviews from Goodreads

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

ROLAND BARTHES was born in 1915. A French literary theorist, philosopher, and critic, he influenced the development of schools of theory, including structuralism, semiotics, existentialism, social theory, Marxism, and post-structuralism. He died in 1980.

Roland Barthes

Hill and Wang

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