I’m just going to put this here because I want to get it out of my head. It’s begging to be used in the preface to my book (the one about Romantic-era fiction), but I know I’m doing that thing I hate–when someone takes a bit of theory and paints everything with it like a toddler with a brush. So I’m just going to put it here and see what happens to it:

The brio of the text (without which, after all, there is no text) is its will to bliss: just where it exceeds demand, transcends prattle, and whereby it attempts to overflow, to break through the constraint of adjectives–which are those doors of language through which the ideological and the imaginary coming flowing in.

Text of pleasure: the text that contents, fills, grants euphoria; the text that comes from culture and does not break with it, is linked to a comfortable practice of reading. Text of bliss: the text that imposes a state of loss, the text that discomforts (perhaps to the point of a certain boredom), unsettles the reader’s historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistence of his tastes, values, memories, brings to crisis his relation with language….(14)

criticism always deals with the texts of pleasure, never the texts of bliss…(21)

The Pleasure of the Text
Roland Barthes
Translated by Richard Miller


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