After Authorship

In his essay, ‘The Death of the Author’, Roland Barthes describes the author as a modern figure which emerged ‘at the end of the middle ages, ’with English empiricism, French rationalism and the personal faith of the Reformation’, This was a time period where society ‘discovered the prestige of the individual, or, to put it more nobly, of the “human person”’.


It is the job of the critic to discover the Author beneath the text as Barthe believes the Author puts their identity into it.

Barthe’s perspective on criticism explains that it ‘should be overthrown along with the Author’.This is due to the destructive process of deconstruction the critic uses which strips strips the text of any meaning.The idea of criticism is, to Barthe, perceived as degrading a text. He comments that ‘once the Author has been removed, the claim to “decipher” a text becomes quite useless. Without the Author, the text lacks any real meaning.

At the beginning of the essay, Barthe speculates about when a character speaks, who is really speaking? He considers the character themselves or the author as giving a voice and identity. He concludes with stating that it is impossible to know as all writing consists of several ‘indiscernible voices’.  When looking at modern digital media, the author(s) of a game for example may try to construct meaning within the storyline, a linear narrative which the player must follow. But ultimately, any meaning derived from a game is that from the players understanding. It may be influenced partially by the author’s narrative but also by the experiences of the player themselves. I choose Bioshock (2007) as an example of a game. It has a rather linear narrative and a silent protagonist (the player). The authors of the came constructed a story which allows the player to immerse themselves within the game, in essence, being the voice of the protagonist, allowing them to help construct any meaning they perceive from the game. 


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