Neil Badmington (Cardiff University) will be presenting his paper, ‘For Henriette’s Tomb: Barthes, Mourning, Mallarmé’, at 5.30pm on Thursday, 12 November 2015. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.47, and will be followed by a wine reception.
12 November 2015 would have been Roland Barthes’s hundredth birthday. A series of global events will mark the day by celebrating Barthes’s birth and achievements. This talk will concern itself instead with death and failure—the death of loved ones and the failure to produce a work in their memory.
What, I want to ask, is the relationship between Barthes’s diary about the loss of his mother, Henriette, and Stéphane Mallarmé’s notes for a work in response to the death of his young son, Anatole? There are some obvious points of connection—each text is fragmentary, was written in grief upon small slips of paper, and remained unpublished until after the death of its author—but I want to go further by considering the echoes of Mallarmé’s fragments in Barthes’s Mourning Diary. These echoes revolve around the relationship between the experience of grief and its physical surroundings, and the failure to develop notes into a commemorative work or literary ‘tombeau’.
About the speaker
Neil Badmington is Professor of English Literature at Cardiff University. His publications include Hitchcock’s Magic (2011) and the 4-volume Roland Barthes: Critical Evaluations in Cultural Theory (2010). He is the founding editor of the journal Barthes Studies, which will be launched on 12 November, and is putting the finishing touches to a book entitled Spectres of Barthes.