communication works

French Novel

The power of words

This makes communication pros’ mouths water: a formula to persuade everybody of everything. Laurent Binet’s novel “The 7th Function of Language” has found it.

28. March 2017

A script everyone is chasing – it contains no less than the secret recipe of “the seventh function of language” which provides irresistible power since it enables to convince and enchant: “Whoever knows and masters this function would practically be king of the world”, says Umberto Eco in Laurent Binet’s novel.


His power would be unlimited. He could get elected in any election, could mobilise the masses, spark revolutions, seduce women, sell each thinkable product, build empires, fool the whole world, get everything he wants.


No wonder all want to get hold of the script with this magic formula: French president Giscard d’Estaing, his Socialist challenger François Mitterrand, Russian, Bulgarian and Japanese undercover agents.

The year is 1980. The French philosopher Roland Barthes is knocked down by a laundry car and dies. The accident becomes the hook for novelist Laurent Binet: What if Barthes in fact has been killed, because he was carrying a script of the seventh function of language with him?

Police captain Jacques Bayard, who is assigned to investigate the murder and to find the script, has to dig deep into the French intelligentsia of the eighties, where philosophers are adored like popstars. Binet stages them all: Paul-Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Bernard-Henri Lévi, Louis Althusser, Julia Kristeva and Philippe Sollers.

Gleefully, Binet drags them in front of the distorting mirror of his mocking satire, mixes reality with absurd yarns, combines semiology and criminology and turns the conventions of a novel upside down – a “playful conspiracy thriller” (Guardian) and “rollicking crime caper” (Observer), filled with  sophisticated intellectual amusement.

Communication Works definitely recommends this book to all who enjoy the artistic game with language and reality.

Who, furthermore, has an occupational interest in convincing others and wants real support, is most welcome to contact us.


Text: Ivo Banek

Laurent Binet, The 7th Function of Language
Harvill Secker, £16.99 (19,95 Euro)

Photo: Harvill Secker