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By ADRIAN TAHOURDIN
There’s a nice review in this week’s TLS of a novel about Roland Barthes. La Septième Fonction du langage by Laurent Binet (Grasset) imagines Barthes’s assassination (“Who killed Roland Barthes?” asks the cover line of the book). The writer was in fact knocked down and killed by a laundry van in Paris in 1980.
Barthes’s centenary fell on November 12, and was marked by an exhibition at the Bibliothèque nationale de France earlier this year. Binet’s centenary tribute is rather more irreverent. In his highly entertaining novel, Michel Foucault is depicted with a rare degree of insolence: accosted on the steps of a packed amphitheatre in the Collège de France by Jacques Bayard, the police officer in charge of the investigation into Barthes’s murder, “he looks at the hand gripping his arm as if it was the biggest assault on human rights since the Cambodian genocide”.