The French Wikipedia article about Roland Barthes has a section on the literary critic's essay "The death of the author" containing the following statement:

Conjugué à la conférence de Michel Foucault intitulée « Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur ? » publiée en juillet 196924, l’article de Barthes fait l’effet d’une bombe[réf. nécessaire].


Combined with Michel Foucault's talk "What is an author?", published in July 196924, Barthes's article had a bombshell effect[citation needed].

The claim has no source. Neither the English Wikipedia article nor the German one about Roland Barthes contain such claims. The English Wikipedia article The Death of the Author and the German article Der Tod des Autors make no such claim, either.

What is the evidence about the early reception about these two articles?

  • Well, 11k Google scholar citations and 35k results - almost certainly underestimates - are one form of evidence. Presumably textual evidence from pieces in the early 1970s would be needed to argue for the bomb-like immediacy of the impact.
    – Adam Burke
    Dec 13, 2021 at 1:59
  • @AdamBurke How many of those hits are actually about Barthes's article? I noticed many that are not directly relevant, and almost all of them are much later than the late 1960s or early 1970s.
    – Tsundoku
    Dec 13, 2021 at 12:33
  • Raw results act as more of a broad indicator on GS, though the popularity of the idea and the specific phrase surely owes much to Barthes. Citations usually more reliable. Overweighting content from the last 20-30 years is a general problem with GS, as that's the time period when scholarly articles started being digital by default. Older texts have to be scanned, and only tend to do so when they are already influential. I don't think big GS counts are decisive on their own but they are empirical evidence that show something's there.
    – Adam Burke
    Dec 14, 2021 at 0:04


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