Roland Barthes gave us a model of the critique of mass culture that continues to be on point today. I suspect he would have loved Twitter and blogging, though we’ll never know. He might have turned into a mandarin had he lived into our age and scorned the internet, though I rather suspect not. In a Times Book Review article, Sam Anderson talks about his favorite pieces in Barthes. They establish a goal, an ideal for writers: that decades after we write someone will have favorite pieces to recall. If you have a Barthes favorite, what’s yours?
Jeffrey Eugenides uses Barthes as a sign of the times in The Marriage Plot. The latest Barthes is his touching Mourning Diary — also on point for our time. It may be the link between the personal and the critical that speaks most about Barthes today, that makes him still “surprisingly relevant today.”