Sunday, January 3, 2021

Barthes on readerly and writerly texts – summary and explanation

Readerly and writerly (or lisibile and scriptable.) texts are two opposite terms identified with cultural scholar Roland Barthes and his post-structuralist theory. Barthes’ theory of  readerly and writerly texts is presented and illustrated in detail in his book S / Z (analysis of Balzac's story "Sarrasine"). The proposed distinction is between a "readable" text - a bourgeois text that meets the reader's expectations, and a "writable" text - an innovative and provocative text that does not meet conventions and problematizes the relation to the world described.

The readerly text presents itself as reflecting reality as it is, and invites the reader to a passive, receptive and devoted reading to the author's voice. It is the realistic, classic text that describes existing things and creates communication with the reader. This text addresses cultural codes and conventions shared by the author and the reader. It can be read easily and with pleasure, because it matches the classic narrative structure with which the reader identifies

The writerly text, on the other hand, highlights the gap and seam between the text and the world, thereby activating the reader to active reading, to the creative activity of writing the text through reading. The writerly text creates resistance to passive and automatic reading of its meaning. This happens because the writerly text does not allow the reader to connect to the position of the subject to which he is accustomed. This text creates in the reader a crisis of representation in relation to the world described. As a result, the world is perceived as insecure - a world that does not provide the protection and quiet of the bourgeois taste offered by the "readerly text".

 

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