In this literary piece, Ronald Barthes is trying to state the authoritative power of the writer or an author over a text. He tries to talk about a multidimensional space where all the meaning of a text clashes and changes. The main purpose behind quoting the line from his story Sarrasine Balzac was to raise several questions in the minds of the readers. He wanted his readers to deconstruct the meaning of all the questions within their mind. The definition of a woman that is seen in the quotation is an idea. However, nobody knows who exactly is the originator or the creator of the idea.
Superficially speaking it is the author. However, it can also be the hero of the story speaking. or it can also be the Balzac as an individual trying to talk about his own personal experiences. All these questions have been asked by Ronald Barthes. The author can begin his act of writing a literary piece only when he accepts his death that is, the metaphoric or the philosophic death. Ronald Barthes tries to impose the idea of writerly text-one in which the meaning will be deciphered and deconstructed by the readers and not the author thus, rejecting the idea of readerly texts. Hence, Ronald Barthes tries to reject the traditional idea of considering the author as the omnipresent Godlike entity. It is the language or the different signs of a text that will speak and not the author. As soon as the author finishes writing a text, his existence from the text gets depleted because it will now be read by the readers who will rewrite the text in a totally new way in their minds with their understanding. Book or a text and its author definitely have a relation but it is like the past and the future.
In other words, the author is like the past and the book is or the meaning of the book is the future. This is because there is the phenomenon of distancing the author from a book as soon as it goes onto the hands of the readers. It is also a very important feature of post modernism. A Text is just collection of many signs (or the signifiers) from different cultures. The work of the author is to just combine all those signs together. However the signified (or the implied final meaning) is always dependent on the author. It also poses a kind of anti theological notion because by rejected the presence of author over a text is like rejecting the presence of God. A reader is that platform on which all the quotations of signs that make up a book are inscribed and deciphered without any of them being lost. Writing basically has no meaning.
Writing is not original. It is basically a performance or an imitation. The meaning of no literary written piece is complete unless it is deconstructed. This is because the meaning cannot be deciphered unless they are recognized as different from one another. Hence, an author is just the “someone” who has no origin. Ronald Barthes thus asks his readers to break the traditional of viewing a text from the author’s view point. The author has to die in order to give birth to the reader or to the new meaning deciphered by the reader.
Barthes, R., 1977. The death of the author.