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Active Philology: Barthes and Nietzsche

Weller, Shane (2019) Active Philology: Barthes and Nietzsche. French Studies, 73 (2). pp. 217-233. ISSN 0016-1128. E-ISSN 1468-2931. (doi:10.1093/fs/knz004) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:71559)

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While the importance of Nietzsche to Barthes has long been recognized, with Barthes himself being the first to acknowledge it, this essay argues that Nietzsche’s influence lies behind almost all of the major aspects of Barthes’s mode of reading and writing in the 1970s, a mode that Barthes describes as ‘active philology’. At the heart of this active philology is a cancellation of meaning that makes of Barthes’s later critical practice a form of active nihilism in the Nietzschean sense. Exploring the various facets of this active philology in order to highlight the ways in which Barthes both follows and deviates from Nietzsche, this essay proposes an understanding of Barthes the active philologist as the incarnation of what Nietzsche terms the ‘last nihilist’ — and, crucially, one for whom any kind of Nietzschean overcoming of nihilism is anathema.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/fs/knz004
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN851 Comparative Literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Comparative Literature
Depositing User: Shane Weller
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2019 16:02 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2019 08:38 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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