THE DEATH OF THE AUTHOR
Roland Barthes famously announced the death of the Author in 1967 to make it clear there was no longer a single authority when it came to the meaning of a text. The obituary he penned contained a great deal of important information about the life of the deceased, the cause of death and so on, but it failed to acknowledge the awkward fact that there was a corpse to dispose of.
In the case of the dead Author, a body of work and a life story are left behind, and measures have to be taken to ensure that the decomposition of one does not result in the ruination of the other. After 47 years, the task facing the literary undertaker seems particularly gruesome, but it is has to be performed if a state of Gorgeousness is to come into being.
The DMRI agrees with Barthes that the life story of an author should not be treated as a definitive guide to the meaning of their work, but it also thinks that when a writer gives up the ghost, their life story immediately goes from being a work of nonfiction to a work of fiction, which means it becomes a text to be compared with others as a way of generating new meaning.
The Institute is committed to exploring ways that the death of the Author can be used to extract dark meaning from the universe. One example is the literal death of Shakespeare (or perhaps even the literary death of Shakespeare since almost none of the details of his life are known for certain and, as a dead author, his life story becomes just another text). The most popular version of his story begins and ends at exactly the same point: the date of his birth and death are the same, which not only reminds us that every life goes full circle, but it also gives us the opportunity to create a Shakespeare-Rosen bridge by gluing the front and back pages of the Bard’s Complete Works together.
To continue reading about this subject, see Paper No. 1.
For instructions on how to make a bookwormhole, click here.