Relation to structuralism

Barthes's analysis is influenced by the structuralist linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure; both Barthes and Saussure aim to explore and demystify the link between a sign and its meaning. But, Barthes moves beyond structuralism in that he criticises the propensity of narratology to establish the overall system out of which all individual narratives are created, which makes the text lose its specificity (différance) (I). Barthes uses five specific "codes" that thematically, semiotically, and otherwise make a literary text reflect structures that are interwoven, but not in a definite way that closes the meaning of the text (XII). Therefore, Barthes insists on the (different degrees of) plurality of a text - a plurality that should not be reduced by any privileged interpretation. Barthes also flags the way in which the reader is an active producer of interpretations of the text, rather than a passive consumer. (II).

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