Mourning Diary

Mourning Diary

Roland Barthes

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0374533113

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"In the sentence ‘She's no longer suffering,' to what, to whom does ‘she' refer? What does that present tense mean?" ―Roland Barthes, from his diary

The day after his mother's death in October 1977, Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning. For nearly two years, the legendary French theorist wrote about a solitude new to him; about the ebb and flow of sadness; about the slow pace of mourning, and life reclaimed through writing. Named a Top 10 Book of 2010 by The New York Times and one of the Best Books of 2010 by Slate and The Times Literary Supplement, Mourning Diary is a major discovery in Roland Barthes's work: a skeleton key to the themes he tackled throughout his life, as well as a unique study of grief―intimate, deeply moving, and universal.

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laceration, very intense today, on this gray morning, came to me, as I think of it, from the image of Rachel, sitting somewhat apart last evening, happy about this cocktail party where she had spoken a little to various guests, dignified, “in her place,” as women no longer are, and with reason, since they no longer desire a place—the rare sort of lost dignity that maman had (she was there, with an absolute kindness, for everyone, and yet “in her place.”) (December 4, 1978) I write my

Seuil, 1987. This article was published in English as “The Light of the Sud-Ouest” (Incidents, University of California Press, 1992). (August 19, 1979) How did maman, while giving us an internalized law (image of a nobility), leave us (M and me) accessible to desire, to an interest in things: the contrary of “the radical, intimate, harsh, and incessant boredom” that prevented Flaubert from enjoying anything and filled his soul to bursting. September 1, 1979 Return from Urt by

such an enterprise was rather roundabout. “Monsieur Ovare,” she asked—perhaps on that initial shared flight of ours, providing a sort of civil discourse, “what would you say the translator needs . . . oh, not to translate someone like my son’s books, but as a general rule?” I knew one translator who needed everything, but before I could answer, Madame Barthes continued: “I always hear people say a talent for languages, but I don’t think so . . . Isn’t it rather that what the translator needs is

gentle, deep (relaxed). October 30 . . . that this death fails to destroy me altogether means that I want to live wildly, madly, and that therefore the fear of my own death is always there, not displaced by a single inch. October 30 Many others still love me, but from now on my death would kill no one. —which is what’s new. (But Michel?) October 31 I don’t want to talk about it, for fear of making literature out of it—or without being sure of not doing so—although as

November 19 [Status confusion]. For months, I have been her mother. It is as if I had lost my daughter (a greater grief than that? It had never occurred to me.) November 19 To see with horror as quite simply possible the moment when the memory of those words she spoke to me would no longer make me cry . . . November 19 A trip from Paris to Tunis. A series of airplane breakdowns. Endless sojourns in airports among crowds of Tunisians coming home for Aïd Kebir. Why does the

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