The good-natured image of ‘the writer on holiday’ is […] no more than one of those cunning mystifications which the Establishment practises the better to enslave its writers. The singularity of a ‘vocation’ is never better displayed than when it is contradicted—but not denied, far from it—by a prosaic incarnation: this is an old trick of all hagiographies. So that this myth of ‘literary holidays’ is seen to spread very far, much farther than summer: the techniques of contemporary journalism are devoted more and more to presenting the writer as a prosaic figure. But one would be very wrong to take this as an attempt to demystify. Quite the contrary. True, it may seem touching, and even flattering, that I, a mere reader, should participate, thanks to such confidences, in the daily life of a race selected by genius. I would no doubt feel that the world was blissfully fraternal, in which newspapers told me that a certain great writer wears blue pyjamas, that a certain young novelist has a liking for ‘pretty girls, reblochon cheese, and lavender-honey’. This does not alter the fact that the balance of the operation is that the writer becomes still more charismatic, leaves this earth a little more for a celestial habitat where his pyjamas and his cheese in no way prevent him from resuming the use of his noble demiurgic speech.

Roland Barthes, “The Writer on Holiday”, in Mythologies, translated by Annette Lavers