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What Forms Can DoThe Work of Form in 20th- and 21st- Century French Literature and Thought$
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Patrick Crowley and Shirley Jordan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620658

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620658.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

‘Faire ceci ou faire cela?’

‘Faire ceci ou faire cela?’

Barthes and the Choice of Form

(p.53) Chapter Three ‘Faire ceci ou faire cela?’
What Forms Can Do

Diana Knight

Liverpool University Press

This essay traces the interconnections between the rhetoric and actuality of Barthes’s proclaimed inability to choose between the polarised forms of the Album and the Livre, the fragmentary ‘note’ of the Diary and the all-embracing Novel. Barthes’s public rehearsal of this indecision, which takes place in the pedagogical context of his lecture course La Préparation du roman, is structured as the theatrical ‘deliberation’ of the writer faced with the obligation to choose. Yet Barthes underlines the appeal of thinking in terms of simplified alternatives, and leaves the formal decision hanging in the balance. I read this artificially constructed deliberation in conjunction with his analysis of Saint Ignatius’s Exercices spirituels, where a new language through which to solicit God’s will is elaborated through the theatrical preparation of an ‘election’. The symbiotic relation that Barthes identifies between Ignatius’s pedagogical Exercices and the personal Journal spirituel – in which Ignatius charts the progress of a practical election – takes me to the relation between Barthes’s Préparation du roman and his own private diaries. His 1979 essay ‘Délibération’ combines a general question (can a Diary be Literature?) with a practical issue to be resolved: should Barthes keep a diary with a view to publication?  

Keywords:   Roland Barthes, La Préparation du roman, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, deliberative rhetoric, diary-form, ‘Délibération’, Journal d’Urt

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