27 April 2017

Laurent Binet's ‘The 7th Function of Language’ – a Reading List

Posted by Laurent Binet

EVENT: Laurent Binet is at the Bookshop on Thursday 4 May to discuss his new novel The 7th Function of Language with London Review of Books contributing editor Christopher Tayler. Book tickets here. Below, he suggests some ‘further reading’ that helped inspire the book.

The sources of The 7th Function of Language are infinite, but here are some of the most significant. If some of my readers feel like reading or rereading some of those books thanks to me, I’d think my novel is not an entire failure.

  1. Mythologies by Roland Barthes (in order to understand the significance of the black Citroën DS)
  2. Essais de linguistique générale by Roman Jakobson (which sets out the six known functions of language)
  3. Histoire de la sexualité, tome 1 by Michel Foucault (which inspired the scene in the gay sauna)
  4. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (the source of the Logos Club, of course)
  5. Plato’s Phaedrus (all the background of the first battle in the Logos Club in Paris)
  6. How to Do Things With Words, J. L. Austin (to understand what the seventh function is about, and what “performative” means linguistically)
  7. Limited Inc., Jacques Derrida (the fierce quarrel between Derrida and Searle)
  8. The Hound of Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle (for the final scene in the campus of Cornell)
  9. Lector in fabula, Umberto Eco (how fiction is about possible worlds, and what’s wrong with a sentence like, ‘You cannot say “Sherlock Holmes’ wife is gorgeous” because Sherlock Holmes has never been married.’)
  10. Protagoras, Plato (to know better the man after whom the boss of the Logos Club was named)

Laurent Binet and Christopher Tayler will discuss The 7th Function of Language at the shop on Thursday 4 May. Book tickets here.