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Dwight GarnerMourning Diary feels like a first draft: it has repetitions, ambiguous passages and even (as Barthes admits) emotional banalities. But this book's unvarnished quality is the source of its wrecking cumulative power. Barthes's ironic intellect, apparent everywhere in his many books, is wrapped here around his sore and nakedly beating heart…not his finest work, but it is his most ardent and approachable. Barthes for Beginners, cynics may label it. I prefer to think of it as something else: the literary equivalent of an acoustic recording, a welcome, belated, stripped-down addition to his oeuvre…a slender volume that one wants to linger over, to devour slowly.
—The New York Times