Readerly and Writerly Texts
Translated from Barthes' neologisms lisible and scriptible, the terms readerly and writerly text mark the distinction between traditional literary works such as the classical novel, and those twentieth century works, like the new novel, which violate the conventions of realism and thus force the reader to produce a meaning or meanings which are inevitably other than final or "authorized." Barthes writes:
Behind these distinctions lies Barthes' own aesthetic and political projects, the championing of those texts which he sees as usefully challenging--often through the method of self-reflexivity--traditional literary conventions such as the omniscient narrator. For Barthes, the readerly text, like the commodity, disguises its status as a fiction, as a literary product, and presents itself as a transparent window onto "reality." The writerly text, however, self-consciously acknowledges its artifice by calling attention to the various rhetorical techniques which produce the illusion of realism. In accord with his proclamation of The Death of the Author, Barthes insists, "the goal of literary work (of literature as work) is to make the reader no longer a consumer, but a producer of the text" (S/Z 4).