French literary theorist, philosopher, critic and semiotician. No wonder it’s such a weird read.
It takes a lot of effort to get into this work and the constant asides make it extremely painful to follow the plot when it does show. Barthes exhibits a great deal of pain with his constant references to death and his relationship with his mother, whilst apparently normal to him, is at odds with his comments on others who never leave home, coming from someone who continued to live in the house his mother died in is extremely odd.
He freely admits he’s not a photographer but gives an early allusion that he’s a painter by referring to his photographic portrait being taken whilst holding his brushes, but of course he’s not. He then goes on to dissect the photograph and photography in a very clinical, theoretical manner, which to say the least takes a lot of following and, in the main, not at all understandable.
Like many others, I’ve come away with little more than an understanding of studium and punctum and a feeling of being very sorry for this introverted mummy’s boy.