Roland Barthes and the “beauty of speed”: sports as a Futurist myth

Andrea Lombardinilo


The paper deals with Roland Barthes’ interpretation of sports as a contemporary myth, becoming a semiotic and communicative medium with the approach of consumer society. In particular, the paper dwells on the transformation of motor racing into a collective myth, in accordance with Marinetti’s celebration of speed. The texts arranged by Barthes for the documentary directed by Aubert Aquin (Les sport et les hommes, 1960-1961) enable an analysis of the diffusion of sports as a mere collective business. Therefore, the paper revolves around Barthes’ ability to elaborate a theoretical framework suitable for the study of contemporary myths, in line with the Futurist “beauty of speed”. Juan Manuel Fangio embodied the real social myth, nowadays enhanced by Luis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. The latter won the 2018 edition of the F1 Canadian Gp forty years after Gilles Villeneuve reached his first victory. The deaths of Villeneuve and Senna and Schumacher’s serious injury attest that speed has become an effective social myth, suspended between risks and immortality.  


Sports; Speed; Social mythologies; Futurism; Risks to life

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Im@go. A Journal of the Social Imaginary - Biannual - Edizioni Mimesis