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The Neutral: Lecture Course at the College de France (1977-1978) (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism)

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ISBN-13: 978-0231134057
ISBN-10: 0231134053
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  • The Neutral: Lecture Course at the College de France (1977-1978) (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism)
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Editorial Reviews


Insightful comments on topics from negative theology to Thomas De Quincy's drug use.

(Library Journal)

His thinking in The Neutral, had never been so mournful, so ample, so warm, so unembarrassed, so alive.

(Wayne Koestenbaum Artforum)

Remarkable for the combination of intensely personal and idiosyncratic preoccupations with immensely wide literary and philosophical reference points.Times Literary Supplement

(Michael Sheringham Times Literary Supplement)

A powerful lesson about the balanced, engaged life.

(Rain Taxi, online edition)

An excellent English translation... This is a beautiful book.

(Sharon M. Meagher Philosophy In Review)

About the Author

Roland Barthes was one of the most influential critics and philosophers of the twentieth century. His works include Mythologies, S/Z, A Lover's Discourse, and Camera Lucida.

Rosalind Krauss is University Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University. She is the author of The Optical Unconscious, Formless: A User's Guide, The Picasso Papers, and Bachelors, among other works.

Denis Hollier is Professor of French Literature at New York University. He is the editor of A New History of French Literature and the author of Absent Without Leave: French Literature Under the Threat of War.


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Product Details

  • Series: European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (July 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231134053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231134057
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Willis G. Regier on May 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here Barthes snips his way free from binary wire. He has long been a partisan of freedom.

He writes: "the Neutral (I will be more brief) is not 'social' but lyrical, existential: it is good for nothing."

No hype needed, nor much explanation. This is another extended example of Barthes thinking carefully about a plain, ordinary, daily amazement, one that left Pyrrho darn near speechless. The Neutral. Neither either nor or.

This book is a sequence of very well prepared lectures, delivered over four months. I read them slowly, separating chapters by reading one a week. It helped get me through a wretched winter. By the last week I had gone back to previous chapters frequently and liked them more with every trip.

Barthes took me back to several sections of Blanchot's INFINITE CONVERSATION, which he often cites. Other companion texts are Bacon's ESSAYS, Baudelaire's FLEURS DU MAL, Kakuzo on tea, and Suzuki on Zen.

The book is beautifully designed and printed. The translation by Rosalind E. Krauss and Denis Hollier should earn them a thousand five-star reviews. I was often thankful that the notes by Thomas Clerc are thorough and abundant. But take your pencil to the index; it has many mistakes, none of which detract a whit from what Barthes has to say.
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The Neutral: Lecture Course at the College de France (1977-1978) (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism)
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