In the Search of a Lost Photography: Appearances, Repressions and Censures of Henriette Barthes’ Picture in La Chambre claire

Guido Mattia Gallerani


This paper aims at considering the most relevant photography removed from the Camera Lucida (1980) by Roland Barthes as the object of a form of self-censorship that reveals itself to be particularly significant in order to shape the book. The thesis is that the fact that Barthes does not show the mother’s photography carries out a main textual consequence such as the narrative hybridization within an essay.

First, the approach of the genesis of the book shows that the Photography of the Winter Garder was the real source of the Barthes’ essay. Then, some textual analysis retrace the appearances of the missing image of the mother. Finally, the explanation of a complex photographic apparatus governing the photo's disappearance relocates the photo as part of the unconscious reading, even though the relative image can appear shattered both discursively and visually.

Thus, grounding on Freud’s theories about psychic censorship and the opposite Sartre’s critical conclusions three different modes of self-censorships will be found within Barthes’ discourse and disposed by a hierarchical succession. The media self-censorship focuses on the perservation of this image from the commercialization of the image as a product at the age of media. The romantic self-censorship bases on a metaphysical and mystical concept of the photographical portait. The Counter-censorship, as Barthes claims, creates a paradoxical discours that avoids his own self-censorship through the active contribution of the imagination of the reader.


Roland Barthes; Censorship; Self-censorship; Counter-censorship; Photography; Essay


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