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Roland Barthes is a central figure in the study of language, literature, culture and the media. This book prepares readers for their first encounter with his crucial writings on some of the most important theoretical debates, including: *existentialism and Marxism *semiology, or the 'language of signs' *structuralism and narrative analysis *post-structuralism, deconstruction and 'the death of the author' *theories of the text and intertextuality. Tracing his engagement with other key thinkers such as Sartre, Saussure, Derrida and Kristeva, this volume offers a clear picture of Barthes work in-context. The in-depth understanding of Barthes offered by this guide is essential to anyone reading contemporary critical theory.