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Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography Paperback – October 12, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

[Barthes] has accomplished in this extraordinary book something finer than mere polemic. En route to his last painful discovery, Barthes takes the reader on an exquisitely rendered, lyrical journey into the heart of his own life and the medium he came to love, a medium that flirts constantly with the 'intractable reality' of the human condition. (Newsweek)

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Reprint edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374532338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374532338
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T on November 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book for an Art History class (History of Photography). I gave myself exactly one week to read this book. It wasn't enough time; this book is incredibly complex for Undergraduate reading. I had to reread the book several times, but thanks to my teacher, TA and fellow students, we managed to break it down and begin actually seeing what Barthes is saying. He wrote this book as an essay not necessarily to teach but more so to explain why he was attracted to photos more than others while looking for his perfect photo of his recently deceased mother. The first part of the book breaks down and explains the different parts of photography. The most important term to remember is punctum (and studium which goes with it) and enimos, or essence. The Second part breaks down his discovery of the Winter Garden photo (which is never seen in the book) and why he is attracted to it, or other words, he uses the terms from Part One to explain the photo.

As a student I highly dislike this book because of its difficult reading, but as an Art Historian, I find it incredibly useful, especially for any students planning on going into Contemporary art, which is highly dominated by the field of photography.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pellerine on December 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Quite an interesting documentary of photography by Barthes. I think books like this, and Sontag, are interesting to read as they help us gain perspectives from photography from various approaches. This is simply a nice book to read that happens to reflect on what gifts/memories that images catch and leave behind for society to come.

It is philosophical in the sense that is questions what images do, but again a nice story in that it moves from image to image discussing them. Images of places that make you want to live there, images of people and how these images capture the essence of time, culture, and the gift of being alive.

It's a great read, for me, as a photographer going to my shelf wanting something to read on photography other than about apertures and technical underpinnings. Of course they are related, and unarguably necessary, for good photography - but like Sontag you experience some of the hidden games of photography.

For the deep thinking photographers out there, and admittedly not for all.
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Format: Paperback
Bathes of course challenges us to consider photography as a cultural and philosophical phenomenon, yet this translation kills it, and the smeared black and white reproductions of the meat of this near final essay: the photographs.

As this is published in Black and White on cheap paperback type paper, the powerful photos, many in color, do not come across as intended and we must seek them out elsewhere to see what the philosopher/author intends us to consider.

The stiff translation as well proves imperceptible, pedantic an unreadable, as mere cognates from the French original are offered instead of comprehensible English terminology in a syntax which conveys the sense rather than obscures it. Anyone who has translated from the French realizes this translator took the easy road out in going with cognates rather than the heavier work of extracting the sense of the original and rendering it fully and faithfully into English.

Thus we find an essay rendered insensible even to those who equally pedantically claim to grasp it as mere adornment, and the photos themselves equally unviewable.

In fact, after seeing this translation and publication for what it is, I went ahead and ordered the French original. Even the title of the original is far more clear than this pedantic and obscure mistranslation into Latin. THe translator is demonstrating his great erudition in translating the very clear original into Latin alone which NO ONE KNOWS IN AMERICA ANYMORE. The author's intent was a very clear title, and this translator betrays that intent very badly in creating something in bad Latin. After all, Camera Lucida is Latin for a BRIGHT ROOM, not clear English for the original title: "La chambre claire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Glen Watson on August 22, 2014
Format: Paperback
One of the most important books on experience, society, and culture, written in the 20th century. The reflection is on photography, but involves aspects from phenomenology, deconstruction, and critical theory. This book should be read by all, not just artist or art historians. There is a massive amount of information in these short passages that read more as a dialog than a formal text. It is often so accessible that it is taking in passing without a thorough engagement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W on May 30, 2013
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This book never cease to make me think about the role of pictures and the way it seduces our senses and memory that is difficult to explain by words. A lot of people arguing on the Barthes insistence on the aura of the pictures, though it's remaining true since the early invention of photography. I'm intrigued by this essay and continually fascinated by this search for meaning in the object of picture. Highly recommended!
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By the stranger on May 11, 2012
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Barthes' book is eloquent and full of insight. However, this 2010 paperback edition is awful . . . the paper is cheap and scratchy and feels like it won't last. I wish publishing companies would realize that I buy actual books (not electronic texts) because I value print quality. Will be sending this edition back and looking for a good used version.
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