Roland Barthes was born in Cherbourg on 12 November 1915. On 26 October 1916 his father, Louis Barthes, was killed in a naval battle in the North Sea, and Barthes spent his early childhood in Bayonne, brought up by his mother and maternal grandmother in what he depicts as an atmosphere of genteel poverty. His mother’s family, however, was one where cultural values, and especially music, were taken very seriously. His aunt was a piano teacher, and an anonymous contributor to L’Echo du Sud-Ouest, writing in 1973, recalled how the family house in the Allées Paulmy represented in the 1920s the centre of the musical life of the town, the place where all the famous performers could be heard on their visits to Bayonne.1 Barthes himself learned to play the piano in his very early childhood, composed little pieces of music before he could even read, and commented later that he never found it boring even to practise scales.
KeywordsLiterary History French Literature English Empiricism Literary Style French Writer
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