The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault, and Derrida

The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault, and Derrida

by Sean Burke


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For the late twentieth century, the death of the author assumed a significance analogous to the death of God one hundred years previously. In this now classic study, Seán Burke both provides the first detailed explanation of anti-authorialism and shows how, even taken on its own terms, the attempt to abolish the author is philosophically untenable. Rather than developing a traditionally humanist defence, Burke effectively out-theorises theory through rigorous readings which demonstrate that the concept of the author remained profoundly active even and especially as its disappearance was being articulated. The question of the author, he argues, is not a question within theory but the question of theory.

Building on a substantially revised second edition, Burke further explores the challenges faced by an authorial theory that is 'still to come'. Prompted by the responses to the passing of Jacques Derrida in 2004, he revisits the enigmatic borderlines between life and work, life and (authorial) death.

Features of the third edition:

A 5,000-word Preface which considers Derrida's legacy and the future of authorial theory

Two new chapters which submit the biographical and autobiographical to independent theoretical scrutiny

A fully updated bibliography

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780748637119
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Publication date: 04/21/2010
Edition description: 3
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Seán Burke worked in the Department of English Studies at the University of Durgaham for thirteen years. His academic publications include Authorship: From Plato to the Postmodern: A Reader and The Ethics of Writing: Authorship and Legacy in Plato and Nietzsche. His first novel, Deadwater has been published in France as Au bout des docks. He is currently researching discursive ethics in Plato, Levinas, and Derrida.

Table of Contents

Preface to Second Edition ix

Preface to Third Edition: The 'Life Death' of the Author xii

Acknowledgements xxiii

Prologue: The Deaths of Paul de Man 1

Introduction: A Prehistory of the Death of the Author 7

1 The Birth of the Reader 19

Authorship and Apotheosis 21

From Work to Life 26

The 'Founders of Languages' 31

Mimesis and the Author 39

Autobiographies 50

2 The Author and the Death of Man 60

Cogito and the Birth of Man 64

The Founder of Futurity 75

What (and Who) is an Author? 86

Allegories of Misreading 91

Transcendental Lures: Lacan and the Mastery of Language 95

Subjectivities 101

3 Misread Intentions 112

Authors of Absence 113

Hors-Texte 119

A History of Silence 124

Doubling the Text: Intention and its Other 133

The Myth of Writing 144

Reading and (Self-) Writing 161

Conclusion: Critic and Author 165

Critic and Author? 169

Misreceptions: Phenomenology into Deconstruction 172

The Ghost in the Machine: Authorial Inscription and the Limits of Theory 180

Epilogue 185

Technology and the Politics of Reading 185

'Half Dust, Half Deity': The Middle Way of Situated Authorship 194

Appendix 1 The Biographical Imperative 199

Appendix 2 The Author as Reader 212

Notes 227

Bibliography 263

Index 277

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