If Barthes had been a British academic, he would have been securely settled in a university teaching career very soon after the publication of Le degré zéro de l’écriture. However hard the pundits protested, his Michelet would have confirmed this position, while the publication of Mythologies in book form in 1957 would certainly have got him his Readership. In the France of the 1950s however, stricter habits of more formal academic respectability still held sway. To teach in a university, one had first to have passed the agrégation. Barthes had never even competed. To become a university lecturer and move on to the first rungs of the ladder eventually leading to a chair, one had to have written two hundred pages of one’s thesis, and had them formally approved by one’s directeur de thèse. In 1954, Barthes had had the scholarship earlier awarded to him to do research in lexicology withdrawn because he had not made sufficient progress. Published work, especially in books, newspapers or periodicals which people buy with their own money, still counts for little in the official French academic world, and the system did not allow Barthes to do what any literary intellectual with a fraction of his gifts could have done in England: apply for an openly advertised post in a university and be appointed on the strength of his controversial but highly stimulating books and articles.
KeywordsLiterary Criticism Book Form Conscious Intention French Literature Advertise Post
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