A lover's discourse: fragments

“The necessity for this book is to be found in the following consideration: that the lover’s discourse is today of an extreme solitude.

This discourse is spoken, perhaps, by thousands of subjects (who knows?), but warranted by no one; it is completely forsaken by the surrounding languages: ignored, disparaged, or derided by them, severed not only from authority but also from the mechanisms of authority (sciences, techniques, arts).” This ‘fragment’ opens Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, a highly methodical work that serves as a virtual glossary of the words lovers use in their discourse. ‘Embrace’, ‘waiting’, ‘dedication’, ‘jealousy’, ‘I-love-you’, ‘letter’, ‘gossip’, ‘regret’, the ‘scene’ and ‘truth’ are all part of a set of forms of communication in the education of a lover, whom Barthes sees as a cultural subject. A lover is even considered to be a model equipped with specific codes that are arranged into specific lists within clearly identified catalogues. A Lover’s Discourse is a dictionary of emotions and sexuality, inspired by works from the Western canon, by Plato, Goethe (The Sorrows of Young Werther) and Stendhal. As such, it firmly established Barthes’ international reputation as one of the fathers of semiotics, the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. In a sense, this book is about the connection between emotions and words, both of which spring from one’s sentimental education.

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