The Seventh Function of Language (audiobook)

Translated by Sam Taylor
12.4 hrs • 10 CDs• 1 MP3 CD • Unabridged
Fiction/Mystery & Detective
Target Audience: Adult
Release Date: 08/01/17
Library CD Library Edition CD titles are packaged in an attractive, full-sized, durable vinyl case with full color art. Cloth Sleeves keep compact discs protected and in numerical order. 
- 08/01/17 9781470863272
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MP3 CD MP3-CDs: Come in a durable vinyl case similar to a dvd case. An index of contents and tracking information are included within the Mp3-CD format. MP3's can be played on any compatible CD player 
- 08/01/17 9781470863296
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Playaway Playaway: Playaway editions are a pre loaded audio device that is half the size of deck of cards. Simply plugin headphones and listen. 
- 08/01/17 9781538475997
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A London Guardian Pick for 2017

A New York Times Pick of the Week

The Observer (UK) Books of the Year Selection

From the prizewinning author of HHhH comes The Seventh Function of Language, a romp through the French intelligentsia of the twentieth century.

Paris, 1980. The literary critic Roland Barthes dies―struck by a laundry van―after lunch with the presidential candidate François Mitterand. The world of letters mourns a tragic accident. But what if it wasn’t an accident at all? What if Barthes was murdered?

In The Seventh Function of Language, Laurent Binet spins a madcap secret history of the French intelligentsia, starring such luminaries as Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, and Julia Kristeva―as well as the hapless police detective Jacques Bayard, whose new case will plunge him into the depths of literary theory. Soon Bayard finds himself in search of a lost manuscript by the linguist Roman Jakobson on the mysterious “seventh function of language.”

A brilliantly erudite comedy that recalls Flaubert’s Parrot and The Name of the Rose―with more than a dash of The Da Vinci Code—The Seventh Function of Language takes us from the cafés of Paris to the corridors of Cornell University and into the duels and orgies of the Logos Club, a secret philosophical society that dates to the era of the Roman Empire. Binet has written both a send-up and a wildly exuberant celebration of the French intellectual tradition.

Review Quotes

“At once a buddy-cop plot, a fish-out-of-water comedy, and a spy thriller…[with] amusing, sometimes scabrous, satirical portraiture of illustrious figures…Knowing, antic, amusingly disrespectful, and increasingly zany as it goes on.”

New York Times

“An intellectual thriller that will be catnip to serious readers. While it contains Bulgarian assassins, Japanese ninjas, a beautiful Russian agent, French politicians, and several male prostitutes, its main characters are prominent European philosophers and cultural theorists…The Seventh Function of Language doesn’t just tell a story. Binet is also exploring the relationship between fiction and reality…There’s so much fun to be had in The Seventh Function of Language, compellingly brought into English by Sam Taylor. Foucault, and Sollers, in particular, come across as wildly comic figures.”

Washington Post

“An affectionate send-up of an Umberto Eco–style intellectual thriller that doubles as an exemplar of the genre, filled with suspense, elaborate conspiracies, and exotic locales.”


“A playful conspiracy thriller.”

Guardian (London)

“A rollicking crime caper…It had me rolling on the floor of the Paris Metro when I read it.”

Observer (London)

“A charming roman à clef like no other…A brilliant illustration of the possibilities left to the modern novel.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“It gets bloody, it gets erotic, and the depiction of some real-life characters is spicily shocking. Sensational fun for the intellectually astute.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“Binet doesn’t just use the history of semiotics to gild a predictable thriller with intellectual pretension. He instead draws out the sometimes conspiratorial implications of using literary techniques to interpret everyday life. What if everything really does mean something?”


“At once a mystery and a satire of mysteries…A clever and surprisingly action-packed attempt to merge abstruse theory and crime drama.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A humorous, historical, literary whodunit that sweeps readers into the grungy 1980s underground of French academia.”