Nicholas Lezard

Signs and spellsnich

Laurent Binet’s ingenious take on Roland Barthes’s violent end must surely have vexed many leading French intellectuals

On 25 February 1980, Roland Barthes, the great French intellectual, was run over by a laundry van in Paris. He died from his injuries a month later. This book — Laurent Binet’s second novel — proposes that it was not an accident; that Barthes had just come from lunch with the Socialist candidate for the forthcoming French presidential elections, François Mitterrand, and that he was in possession of an extremely important document, one which gave detailed instructions on the seventh function of language.

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