Roland Barthes’s Comrades and Rivals
Your favorite critic has plenty of frenemies.
He's not just a colleague, he's also my B(d)FF (Book Discussion Friend Forever).
We're both all about structure. He goes the cultural anthropology route, and I take the literary theory path.
Ferdinand de Saussure
Saussure kicked things off when he started studying how language works; i.e., words are part of a whole system of signs and the things they stand for. I just took it all a step forward. Okay, that's my false modesty speaking—more like many steps forward.
He took my interest in textual structure and ran with it—all the way to studying the nitty gritty ingredients that make up narratives.
Not only did she introduce me to Mikhail Bakhtin, but she also took my side in that whole Picard affair (filed under: when Theorists Attack).
Not to brag, but I influenced Todorov's work on structures and genres.
Things went sour when he wrote that takedown piece on me, "New Criticism or New Fraud?"