Now that he's set down once and for all time a system of literary structural analysis (S/Z, 1974), what can Barthes possibly do for an encore? What but undercut his own scientific vision with the pleasure principle, showing off the text "in something like the way in which psychoanalysis has exhibited man's erotic body." It's the most basic of aesthetic questions--why is literature pleasure-giving? and what is the source of the pleasure? The originality of his rapid-fire answers is dizzying, exhausting. No critic is more perverse or more fecund than Barthes--this essay leaps from one illumination to the next with no more continuity than any other contemporary avant-garde display. But because of his stylistic commitment to modernity, he is the only critic who can meet Sade, Robbe-Grillet and Sarduy (as well as Zola and Proust) on their own subversive ground. Not an explication: a striptease revealing what is absolutely new in the art of narrative.