Book: The Rosary and the Microphone
Chapter: Songs of Innocence as Barthes' Ideal Novel
This chapter explores the notion of U2’s later work as an example of Barthes’ Vita Nova, a new sort of novel. Roland Barthes’ desire to write a novel late in his life is ultimately a story of conversion, a decision to move in a direction different from what he was doing in the past. U2’s album, Songs of Innocence, is an imperfect example of Barthes’ ideal novel: it expresses both passion and intimacy, while conveying a loss of innocence. This chapter is particularly heavy in terms of Barthesian philosophy; his ideas on mourning and grace arguably permeate through U2’s music inasmuch as U2’s music expresses Bono’s own struggles in negotiating grief and death in his own family.