Against that monomaniacal bully, the singular origin of the text, Barthes liked to champion the reader, a delightfully many-headed, depersonalised vessel in which references and texts and ideas could chase each other around and never have to settle. And who is this free and easy reader, so full of contradictions, following possible meanings where they lead “like a run in the stocking”? You suspect it might be Barthes himself, and that as time went on, he started to suspect so, too. After all, authors, if they’re any good, are readers first: that’s why Barthes loved collecting fragments, aphorisms and citations, and making lists of books he’d never need to actually write. The reader-writer doesn’t have to be God, or daddy, or to stay under the thumb of either.
Lidjia Haas on Roland Barthes (The Telegraph)