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Reflections on a Manual

Author(s): Roland Barthes and Sandy Petrey


Source: PMLA, Vol. 112, No. 1, Special Topic: The Teaching of Literature (Jan., 1997), pp. 69-75
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/463054 .
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Roland Barthes
Reflections on a M anu al
ROLAND BARTHES
(1915-80)
directed the social sciences di-
vision
of
the Ecole
Pratiqu e
des
Hau tes
Etu des,
in
Paris, du ring
1960-77 and held the chair
of
literary
semiology
at the
College
de France
from
1977 u ntil his
death. Translations
of
his works
inclu de
Writing Degree
Zero
(New York:
Hill, 1968), M ythol-
ogies (New
York:
Hill, 1972),
S/Z
(New
York:
Hill, 1974),
The
Pleasu re of the Text (New York:
Hill, 1975),
and A Lover's Dis-
cou rse:
Fragments (New
York:
Hill, 1978).
TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION
"Reflections on a M anu al" was Roland Barthes's contribu tion to the
colloqu iu m
"The
Teaching
of Literatu re" held at
Cerisy-la-Salle
in
1969.
Organized by
Tzvetan Todorov and
Serge Dou brovsky,
the
Cerisy
gathering
featu red other
prominent
theorists,
like Gerard Genette and
A. J.
Greimas,
whose concerns Barthes addresses and
adapts
to his own
pu rposes
in this
paper. Reading
manu als of the
history
of French litera-
tu re as texts whose
grammar
is
organized by
a set of
oppositions,
he
condu cts a stru ctu ralist
enterprise
that becomes an
inqu iry
into the
myths enabling
societies to create and
preserve
their identities. Barthes's
reflections on the
teaching
of literatu re recall some of the
major
works
that
pu nctu ate
the
phases
of his
career,
from
M ythologies (1957)
to "In-
trodu ction to the Stru ctu ral
Analysis
of Narrative"
(1966)
to The Plea-
su re
of
the Text
(1973).
In his
essay
Barthes
provocatively su ggests
that "the
teaching
of lit-
eratu re" is a
nearly tau tological phrase.
It assu mes that
something
called "literatu re" exists
independent
of the
teaching process
and re-
mains constant even when instru ctional methods
vary.
Bu t for Barthes
cu rricu la do not transmit
literatu re; they
constitu te it: "Literatu re is
what is
tau ght, period."
When Barthes
presented
his
paper,
French schools
tau ght
literatu re as
the
history
of
literatu re,
as one manifestation of a
sequ ence
of historical
settings
that
configu red
other artistic and social
phenomena
as well. In an
effort to conceive literatu re
apart
from the historical
carapaces
attached
to it in edu cational
institu tions,
Barthes
opposes
the scholastic
tenet,
em-
bodied in classroom materials and lectu res in
1969,
that
meaning
mu st be
one and
indispu table.
Like his fellow
theorists,
Barthes valu es literatu re
"Reflections
on a M anu al" is a translation
of
Roland Barthes, "Reflexions
su r
u n manu el,"
L'enseignement
de la
litteratu re,
ed.
Serge Dou brovsky
and Tzvetan
Todorov (Paris: Plon, 1971)
170-77. Barthes delivered this address at the collo-
qu iu m "L'enseignement
de la
litteratu re," held
du ring
22-29
Ju ly
1969 at the
Centre Cu ltu rel International de
Cerisy-la-Salle.
For
information
abou t the
Cerisy
colloqu iu ms,
write to the
CCIC, 27,
ru e de Bou lainvilliers,
F-75016
Paris,
France.
69
Reflections
on a lVanu al
for
demonstrating meaning
to be
infinitely
variable. Written when Barthes
was
condu cting
the seminar at the Ecole
Pratiqu e
des Hau tes Etu des that
fu rnished the armatu re of S/Z
(1970),
"Reflections on a M anu al"
u pholds
the same view of semantic and
symbolic u pheaval
as that fou ndational
stu dy
of Balzac's "Sarassine."
Key
terms
developed by
French theorists
in their
preoccu pation
with the
u ndecidable-polysermy, plu rality,
wvrit-
ing,
text-recu r as Barthes maintains that the
literary
manu al and the lit-
erary text,
the
pedagogy
and the
practice
of
literatu re,
have
nothing
of
consequ ence
to do with each other. The
essay
is therefore
pessimistic
abou t whether
teaching
can even
incorporate
literatu re. The
goal
of
teaching
is to be
clear,
that of literatu re to
"recognize
at last the
rights
of
polysemy"
and so to reveal
clarity
to be a
pipe
dream.
For
Barthes, teaching prefers history
to literatu re becau se
history,
at
least in the traditional sense of a narrative of
objective
facts,
makes
sense;
literatu re u nmakes it. The teacher and the manu al strive to redu ce
literatu re-a
space
of
signifiers
in
eru ption-to
a
space
for clu stered
sig-
nifieds that harmonize
reassu ringly
with the historical context of their
creation. Historical facts can be
codified, classified,
and
categorized,
whereas
literary
texts
disru pt
codes,
u ndo
categories,
and make classifi-
cation inane. The
literary
manu al seeks to
impose
an
imperialistic
disci-
ipline
that literatu re
repu diates.
Barthes and his
colleagu es largely
su cceeded in
convincing
the
profession
that literatu re was not assimil-
able to
history.
Like
many
academics
today (inclu ding,
of
cou rse,
contribu tors to this
special-topic
issu e of
PM LA),
Barthes saw that methods of
teaching
were in conflict with theories of literatu re. In 1969 and 1997
alike,
"The
Teaching
of Literatu re" names a
problem
that arises when a
conception
of literatu re clashes with a set of
teaching practices.
Bu t whereas the
idea of literatu re was in tu rmoil and the
practice
of
teaching
static in
1969,
today
an
u pheaval
in
teaching practices
has left the idea of litera-
tu re behind. Now that mu ch of the North American
academy
is
tu rning
to historical and cu ltu ral
stu dies,
the characteristics that made literatu re
a
privileged
mode of
writing
for Barthes are
being relentlessly
interro-
gated.
In a classroom oriented toward the historical
configu ration
of a
precise
social
formation,
what u se is a text defined as
literary
becau se it
denies its social and historical limits? In
fact,
as the nu mber of
langu age
and literatu re classrooms oriented toward historical
investigation
in-
creases,
the
profession
is
moving
"from literatu re to cu ltu re." The M in-
nesota
Review,
which devoted a recent issu e to that
topic (Institu tion),
is
by
no means the
only jou rnal
to
su ggest
that the tu rn to cu ltu ral stu dies
is a tu rn
away
from
literary
criticism. In an Editor's Colu mn in
PM LA,
Domna C. Stanton
points
ou t that social and historical
problems
are
"shifting
the
scholarly
and cu rricu lar concerns" of the
literary
disci-
plines (361).
In a
sense,
Barthes's views are
being
reversed. Whereas his
essay
seeks to show that the
literary
is
separate
from historical
stu dies,
the
increasing importance
of
history
in
dynamic
hu manities instru ction
cou ld mean that a
literary
text set
apart
from its historical context will be
separated
from the classroom as well.
70
Roland Barthes
Yet in another
sense,
the
profession
is
moving
toward Barthes. "Re-
flections on a M anu al" is not
only
a
plea
for the
specificity
of literatu re
bu t also a demonstration that the text is in no
way antagonistic
to the con-
cerns that have made
history prominent
in the literatu re classroom
today.
A brief for literatu re's
polysemy,
Barthes's
essay simu ltaneou sly
insists
that the
teaching
of literatu re address class
conflict,
political power,
and
lingu istic oppression.
Conflict, power, oppression; class, politics,
lan-
gu age-all
were mu ch on the minds of French academics in the su mmer
of
1969,
a little more than a
year
after the tu mu lt of
M ay
1968 forced
France to confront
u rgent qu estions
abou t the
contemporary
world and
the
place
of the
u niversity.
The
heyday
of French
literary theory
was a
time when
perspectives
on literatu re were
constantly challenged
to show
their
extraliterary significance,
and in
offering
a vision of texts freed from
historical
bondage,
Barthes nevertheless asserts that texts and
history
in-
teract
continu ally,
each a
telling
influ ence on the other. His
rejection
of
literary history
affirms a different kind of
history
and defines
neglect
of
the
polysemic
text as
neglect
of the
langu age throu gh
which hu man be-
ings
make or destabilize their world. Barthes's du al concern with textu -
ality
and
sociality
is no less
timely
now than in 1969.
Sandy Petrey
State
University of
New
York, Stony
Brook
Works Cited
The Institu tion
of
Literatu re: II. From Literatu re to Cu ltu re.
Spec.
issu e of M innesota Re-
view 43-44
(1994-95):
1-287.
Stanton, Domna C. Editor's Colu mn. "What Is Literatu re?-1994." PM LA 109
(1994):
359-65.
71
Reflections
on a M anu al
I WANT to make a few simple, even simplistic,
observations
su ggested by my
recent
reading
or
rereading
of a manu al on the
history
of French
literatu re. While
rereading,
or while
reading,
the
manu al,
which
closely
resembles the ones I u sed
when I was a
stu dent,
I asked
myself
this
qu estion:
Can literatu re be
anything
for u s other than a child-
hood
memory?
In other
words,
what of literatu re
continu es,
persists, speaks,
after we leave school?
If we restricted ou rselves to an
objective
inven-
tory,
we wou ld answer that the
part
of literatu re
that continu es into adu lt life as lived
today
is this: a
few answers in crossword
pu zzles
and television
qu iz shows,
posters annou ncing
the hu ndredth an-
niversary
of an au thor's birth or
death,
some
paper-
back
titles,
some critical allu sions in a
newspaper
we are
reading
for a
wholly
different
pu rpose,
to
find
something
other than those allu sions. I believe
that this state of affairs has mu ch to do with the
fact that we French have
always
been accu stomed
to
equ ating
literatu re with the
history
of literatu re.
The
history
of literatu re is an
essentially
scholastic
object
that exists
solely throu gh
its
teaching,
as far
as I am
concerned; therefore,
the title of this collo-
qu iu m,
"The
Teaching
of
Literatu re,"
is almost tau -
tological.
Literatu re is what is
tau ght, period.
It is
an
object
of
teaching.
You will
agree
when I
say
that in
France,
at
least,
we have
produ ced
no
great
synthesis, nothing Hegelian,
on the
history
of ou r
literatu re. If this French literatu re is a childhood
memory-that's
what I take it to be-I wou ld like
to know
(and
this will be the
object
of a redu ctive
and banal
inventory here)
which elements make
u p
the
memory.
First of
all,
the
memory
is made
u p
of a few ob-
jects
that
repeat themselves,
that come
u p
time and
again,
which we cou ld almost call the monemes of
metaliterary langu age,
the
langu age
of the
history
of literatu re. Those
objects
are of cou rse
au thors,
schools, movements, genres,
and centu ries.
They
have a certain nu mber-in
reality
a
very
small
nu mber-of featu res or
predicates
that attach to
and combine with one another.
Reading
manu als of
literary history
wou ld make it
qu ite easy
to draw
u p
a
paradigmatic oppositional list,
the
elementary
stru ctu re of these
featu res,
for
they
are few in nu m-
ber and strike me as
perfectly
stru ctu red into
op-
posing pairs,
with a mixed term here and there. The
stru ctu re is
extremely simple.
There
is,
for ex-
ample,
the
archetypal paradigm
of ou r
literatu re,
Romanticism-classicism
(even thou gh
French Ro-
manticism
appears relatively impoverished
on the
international
scene),
sometimes
slightly compli-
cated as
Romanticism-realism-symbolism
for the
nineteenth
centu ry.
As
you know,
the law of com-
bination allows a
striking proliferation
from
very
few elements:
by applying
certain featu res to cer-
tain of the
objects
I
mentioned,
we
produ ce
certain
literary individu alities,
certain
literary
individu als.
That is
why
manu als
always present
the centu ries
in
paradigmatic
fashion. It is indeed rather
strange
for a
centu ry
to have an individu al
existence,
bu t
that is
precisely
what ou r childhood memories lead
u s
to-converting
centu ries into individu als. On
the
whole, literary history
has
strongly
individu -
alized the fou r
great
centu ries of ou r literatu re:
the sixteenth
centu ry
is life
overflowing,
the sev-
enteenth
u nity,
the
eighteenth movement,
and the
nineteenth
complexity.
The stru ctu re inclu des additional featu res that
can be
opposed
and
paradigmatized.
Let me
give
a
sample
of these
oppositions,
these
predicates
that
attach themselves to
literary objects: "overflowing"
versu s
"contained";
"hau ghty art,
willfu l
obscu rity"
versu s
"expansiveness";
"rhetorical coldness" ver-
su s
"feeling,"
which
encompasses
the well-known
Romantic
paradigm
of cold and hot. Or take the
opposition
between "the sou rces" and
"originality"
or between "labor" and
"inspiration." Establishing
those kinds of
mythic paradigms
is the first
step
in
a small
project
of
exploring
the
mythology
of the
history
of ou r literatu re. French schoolbooks have
always
loved su ch
paradigms,
becau se the
para-
digms requ ire
memorization or
perhaps
becau se a
mental stru ctu re that fu nctions
throu gh opposition
provides
a solid
ideological
balance sheet
(only
an
ideological analysis
cou ld tell u s
which).
This is the
same
opposition
that we
encou nter,
for
example,
between Conde and
Tu renne,
su pposedly
the
great
archetypal figu res
of two French
temperaments:'
if
you pu t
them
together
in a
single
writer
(Jakobson
showed u s that the
poetic
act consists of
expanding
72
Roland Barthes
a
paradigm
into a
syntagm), you produ ce
au thors
who
integrate,
for
instance,
"formal art and intense
feeling"
or who
display
"a taste for
jokes
that con-
ceals a
deep
distress"
(like Villon).
I'm
talking
abou t the first
step
toward what
might
be
imagined
a little
grammar
of ou r
literatu re,
a
grammar pro-
du cing stereotyped
individu alities:
au thors,
move-
ments,
schools.
The second constitu ent of this
memory
is the for-
mation of French
literary history
from acts of cen-
sorship,
which shou ld be
catalogu ed.
As has been
said before and as
you know,
there is a
completely
different
history
of ou r literatu re to be
written,
a
cou nterhistory,
an obverse of the standard
history:
the
history
of
censorship.
What is censored? First
of
all,
social classes. The social stru ctu re beneath
literatu re is
rarely
fou nd in manu als of
literary
his-
tory; you
have to seek it ou t in critical works that are
more
emancipated,
more evolved. Class conflict is
sometimes
presented
in
manu als,
bu t
only
in
pass-
ing,
as a kind of aesthetic
opposition. Ultimately,
what the manu al
opposes
are class
atmospheres,
not
class realities: when the aristocratic mind is
opposed
to its
bou rgeois
and
popu lar cou nterparts,
at least
in earlier
centu ries,
the aim is to
distingu ish
refine-
ment from
good
hu mor and from realism. Even re-
cently pu blished
manu als contain sentences like
this:
"Diderot,
a
plebeian,
lacks tact and
delicacy;
he
is
gu ilty
of offenses
against
taste that introdu ce vu l-
garity
into
feelings...."
Thu s class
exists,
bu t in the
form of an aesthetic or ethical
atmosphere.
As in-
stru ments of
knowledge,
these manu als
flagrantly
omit an
economy
and a
sociology
of ou r literatu re.
The second act of
censorship
wou ld
obviou sly
be that of
sexu ality,
bu t I'm not
going
to talk abou t
it becau se it
belongs
with the far more
general
cen-
sorship
to which
society su bjects
sex. The third
censorship-at
least I consider it a
censorship-is
that of the
concept
of
literatu re,
which is never de-
fined,
for in these histories literatu re
goes
withou t
saying
and is never called into
qu estion
for the
pu r-
pose
of
defining,
if not its
being,
at least its
social,
symbolic,
or
anthropological
fu nctions. In
fact,
we
cou ld invert this lack and
say-for
one wou ld
be
happy
to
say
it-that the
history
of literatu re
shou ld be conceived as a
history
of the idea of lit-
eratu re and that this
history
does not seem to me to
exist
anywhere. Finally,
the fou rth act of censor-
ship,
not the least
important,
bears on
langu ages,
as
always. Langu age
is
perhaps
a mu ch more
impor-
tant
object
of
censorship
than
any
other.
By
that I
mean manifest
censorship,
which these manu als
impose
on states of
langu age
at
any
distance from
the classical norm. As is well
known,
an immense
act of
censorship weighs
on
preciosity. Preciosity,
notably
in the seventeenth
centu ry,
has been de-
scribed as a sort of classical hell. All the French
learned in school to
adopt
toward
preciosity
the
same
ju dgment
and stance as
Boileau , M oliere,
or
La
Bru yere.
Here is a one-verdict
trial,
repeated
across the
centu ries, despite
what a real
history
of
literatu re wou ld
perhaps easily reveal-namely,
the enormou s and du rable su ccess of
preciosity
throu ghou t
the seventeenth
centu ry.
Even in 1663 a
collection of
gallant poems by
the comtesse de Su ze
went
throu gh
fifteen mu ltivolu me
reprintings. Here,
then,
is a
point
to
illu minate,
a
point
of
censorship.
Or take the case of
sixteenth-centu ry French,
what
we call M iddle
French,
cast ou t of ou r
langu age
on
the
pretext
that it is made
u p
of
decrepit novelties,
Italianisms,
jargons, baroqu e extravagances,
and
so
on,
and no one has ever raised the
problem
of
what
we,
the French of the
present day,
lost in the
great trau matizing experience
of classical
pu rity.
We lost not
only
"means of
expression,"
as
they
say,
bu t also withou t dou bt a mental stru ctu re. For
langu age
is a mental
stru ctu re;
it is
significant,
for
instance,
that
according
to Lacan a French
expres-
sion su ch as ce
su is-je
'this am I'
corresponds
to a
stru ctu re that is
psychoanalytic
and therefore in a
sense tru er. This stru ctu re was
possible
in sixteenth-
centu ry langu age.
Once
again
there
may
be
grou nds
for a trial here.
The trial wou ld
obviou sly
have to
begin
with a
condemnation of what we mu st call classicocen-
trism,
which in
my
view still marks all ou r litera-
tu re, notably
in
regard
to
langu age.
Let me
say again
that
problems
of
langu age
mu st be inclu ded
among
problems
of literatu re. We mu st ask the
big qu es-
tions: When does a
langu age begin?
What does it
mean to
say begin
when we talk abou t a
langu age?
When does a
genre begin?
What does it mean to
say begin
when we talk abou t a
genre?
What does
it mean when someone talks abou t the first French
novel,
for instance? In
fact,
it is clear that behind
the classical idea of
langu age
there is
always
a
73
Reflections
on a M anu al
political
idea. The
being
of
langu age,
its
perfection
and even its
name,
is linked to a consu mmation of
power:
classical Latin is Latin or Roman
power;
classical French is monarchical
power.
That is
why
it mu st be said that ou r
teaching
cu ltivates or
pro-
motes what I will call
paternal langu age
and not
maternal
langu age.
Here let me
say
in
passing
that
we don't know what
spoken
French is. We know
what written French is becau se there are
grammar
books on
proper u sage,
bu t no one knows what
spoken
French is. The first
step
toward
finding
ou t
wou ld be to break free of classicocentrism.
A
centering
on classicism is the third element of
this childhood
memory.
Classicocentrism strikes u s
as anachronistic,
yet
we are still
living
with it. Even
today,
doctoral theses are defended in the Lou is
Liard Room at the
Sorbonne,
and when we look at
the
portraits
in that room we see the divinities who
preside
over French
knowledge
as a whole: Cor-
neille, M oli&re, Pascal, Bossu et, Descartes, Racine,
u nder the
protection-this
is a confession-of Ri-
chelieu . Classicocentrism has a
long
reach,
for even
in the
introdu ctory
matter of
manu als,
it
always
identifies literatu re with the
king.
Literatu re is the
monarchy,
and we
irresistibly
constru ct ou r school-
days image
of literatu re arou nd the names of certain
kings-Lou is
XIV,
of
cou rse,
bu t also
Francois I,
Saint Lou is-in su ch a
way
that we
finally
have a
polished image
in which the
king
and literatu re are
reciprocal
reflections of each other. In the centered
stru ctu re of the
history
of ou r
literatu re,
there is a
national identification. The
history
manu als
perpet-
u ally promote
what are called
typically
French val-
u es or
typically
French
temperaments.
We are
told,
for
example,
that Joinville is
typically
French,2
and
what is French is-General de Gau lle
gave
u s a
definition-"regu lar,
normal,
national." That is
obviou sly
the
spectru m
of the norms and valu es of
ou r literatu re. From the moment the
history
of ou r
literatu re
acqu ires
a
center,
it is
apparent
that the
center constru cts literatu re for
u s;
whatever comes
before or after in the cou rse of
things
thu s
appears
as
precu rsor
or
rejection.
What comes before clas-
sicism
prefigu res it-M ontaigne
is a
precu rsor
of
ou r classic au thors. What comes afterward reworks
or
rejects
classicism.
A final remark:
throu ghou t
the centu ries the
childhood
memory
I'm
discu sing
has taken its
stru ctu ration from a
grid.
In the
past
a rhetorical
grid
was
primary,
bu t it was discarded arou nd the
middle of the nineteenth
centu ry (as
Genette showed
in an invalu able article on this
problem).3
Now
there is a
psychological grid.
All scholastic
ju dg-
ments rest on the
concept
of form as
"expression"
of the
su bject.
The
personality
is translated into
style:
this
postu late
nou rishes all
ju dgments
and all
analyses
devoted to au thors. From it we
get
the
key
valu e,
the one that recu rs most often when we
ju dge
au thors-namely, sincerity.
For
example,
du
Bellay
will be
praised
for sincere and
personal ou tpou r-
ings;
Ronsard's Catholic faith was sincere and
pro-
fou nd;
Villon
spoke
from the
heart;
and so on.
These few remarks are
simplistic,
and I wonder
if
they
can stimu late
discu ssion,
bu t I wou ld like to
conclu de with one final observation. In
my
view,
there is a
profou nd
and intractable
antinomy
be-
tween the
practice
of literatu re and the
teaching
of
literatu re. This
antinomy
is
seriou s,
for it is con-
nected to what
may
be
today's
most
pressing prob-
lem,
the
problem
of the transmission of
knowledge.
Undou btedly
this
problem
is at
present
fu ndamen-
tally
one of
alienation,
for if the
grand
stru ctu res of
economic alienation have been more or less re-
vealed,
the stru ctu res of the alienation of knowl-
edge
have not been. On this level I believe that a
political conceptu al apparatu s
wou ld not su ffice to
clarify
the
problem;
we wou ld
requ ire nothing
less
than an
apparatu s
for
psychoanalytic analysis.
That
is what we need to work
on,
and ou r efforts will
dou btless have
repercu ssions
on literatu re and on
what we can do with it in
teaching, assu ming
that
literatu re can su rvive as
part
of
teaching,
that it is
compatible
with
teaching.
In the
meantime,
we can
identify provisional
points
of rectification. Within a
system
of instru c-
tion that maintains literatu re on its
program,
can
we
provisionally imagine points
of rectification
even before
everything
is
pu t u p
for
grabs?
I see
three immediate
points
of rectification. The first
wou ld be to tu rn classicocentrism arou nd and do
the
history
of literatu re backward. Instead of con-
sidering
the
history
of literatu re from a
pseu do-
genetic point
of
view,
if we
really
want to do the
history
of literatu re we need to make ou rselves its
center, working
backward from the
great
modern
ru ptu re
and
organizing history
from the
ru ptu re.
In
74
Roland Barthes
this
way, past
literatu re wou ld be
spoken
from a
contemporary langu age
and even from ou r contem-
porary langu age.
We wou ld no
longer
see
poor
stu -
dents forced to work first on the sixteenth
centu ry,
whose
langu age they barely u nderstand,
u nder the
pretext
that is comes
before
the seventeenth cen-
tu ry,
which is itself all bou nd
u p
with
religiou s
dis-
pu tes
that have
nothing
to do with stu dents' cu rrent
situ ation. A second
principle: replace
the
au thor,
the
school,
and the movement
by
the text. In ou r
institu tions the text is handled as an
object
of
expli-
cation,
bu t
explication
is
always
connected to the
history
of literatu re. What is needed is to treat the
text not as a sacred
object (the object
of a
philol-
ogy)
bu t
essentially
as a
space
of
langu age,
as the
passage
of a kind of
possible infinity
of
digres-
sions,
and thu s on the basis of a certain nu mber of
texts to illu minate a certain nu mber of codes of
knowledge
that are
officially
sanctioned.
Finally,
a
third
principle:
at
every
occasion and at
every
mo-
ment
develop
the
polysemic reading
of the
text,
recognize
at last the
rights
of
polysemy, open
the
text to
symbolism.
I believe that wou ld
produ ce
a
major decompression
in the
teaching
of ou r litera-
tu re-not,
I
repeat,
as it is
practiced (that depends
on
professors)
bu t as it seems to me to be codified.
Translator's Notes
1The vicomte de Tu renne
(1611-75)
and the
prince
de Conde
(1621-86)
were brilliant French
generals
who owed their su c-
cess to
radically
different
qu alities.
Conde was celebrated for
impetu ou s changes
of
strategy
in
response
to the
inspiration
of
the moment, Tu renne for
plans meticu lou sly prepared
and u n-
swervingly
carried ou t.
2Jean de Joinville
(1224-1317)
was known for
literary ge-
niu s, religiou s fervor, military valor, and
political
steadfastness.
To call him
typically
French is to endow the French
people
with
a broad
range
of virtu es.
3Barthes refers to Gerard Genette's
"Rhetoriqu e
et
enseigne-
ment." The
essay
is inclu ded in Genette's
Figu res
II
([Paris:
Seu il, 1969] 23-42)
bu t not in the
English
translation of selec-
tions from the three volu mes of
Figu res.
75