Roland Barthes was born in 1915 and studied French literature and the classics at the University of Paris. After teaching French at universities in Romania and Egypt, he joined the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, where he devoted himself to research in sociology and lexicology. He was a professor at the College de France until his death in 1980.
"The dominant perspective of the thirteen essays collected in Image-Music-Text is semiology. Barthes extends the 'empire of signs' over film and photography, music criticism . . . and writing and reading as historically situated activities. Several essays are frankly didactic. They review and expand the domain of a certain terminology: interpretive codes, narrational systems, functions and indices, denotation and connotation. Yet those impatient with special terms will not mind too much, for where else do they get, under the same cover, Beethoven and 'Goldfinger, ' the Bible and 'Double Bang a Bangkok'? . . . Barthes is technical without being heavy, and a professional without ceasing to be an amateur. His precise yet fluent prose treats personal insight and systematic concepts with equal courtesy." --Geoffrey Hartman, The New York Times Book Review