This acclaimed short study, originally published in 1983, and now thoroughly updated, elucidates the varied theoretical contributions of Roland Barthes (1915-80), the 'incomparable enlivener of the literary mind' whose lifelong fascination was with the way people make their world intelligible. He has a multi-faceted claim to fame: to some he is the structuralist who outlined a 'science of literature', and the most prominent promoter of semiology; to others he stands not for science but pleasure, espousing a theory of literature which gives the reader a creative role. This book describes the many projects, which Barthes explored and which helped to change the way we think about a range of cultural phenomena - from literature, fashion, wrestling, and advertising to notions of the self, of history, and of nature. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.