This book begins with a real event that took place on rue des Ecoles in Paris on 25 February 1980 at around half past three in the afternoon. After a good lunch, the distinguished philosopher and critic Roland Barthes was on his way back to his office when he walked into the path of a laundry van. He was severely injured and taken to the nearby hospital of Pitié-Salpêtrière, where he died a month later. He was sixty-four years old and still at the height of his powers and fame. The commonly accepted opinion was that he had been the victim of a random accident.