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A must for old-school Marxists and modern rhetoricians
on February 26, 2006
In Mythologies, Barthes offers a series of snapshots with titles such as "Plastic," "Striptease," "Toys," "The World of Wrestling," and "Operation Margarine." His aim is to reveal the ideological abuse hidden in these myths, which are manufactured to read as reality.
Though complex, Barthes essays are accessible, charming, and funny. I have taught Mythologies to first-year college students, because it does not require its reader to have read volumes of theory to engage in Barthes' clever reflections.
My favorite essay might be "Toys," which demystifies modern (1954-56) French toys as designed to produce consumers ("users") rather than creators. "Toys" exemplifies how, 50 years later, Barthes' myths are still alive and worth reading.