I decided to pick this book up because I liked some other books of this serie. I have no prior knowledge of Barthes's theories, so I can't say whether the book itself is accurate. Overall the book is easy to follow, and the author seems very knowledgeable on the subject.
My biggest problems are the illustrations. I don't like the drawing style itself, but the content of the pictures perplex me. The drawings are somewhat crude to say the least, and I couldn't understand the relationship between the picture and the text. I can understand there being a little cartoon of people in an orgy when the text is talking about Barthes' perception of Sade's literary work.pictures. But a lot of the other illustration had sexual content where I couldn't see its relevance to the text. I expect to see that kind of art in Indy comics, not in a book that talks about semiotics and the like.
I have now read several of the books from this series and, I think it is safe to say that the usefulness and quality of the books varies greatly. I like the idea of using cartoons to assist the reader in understanding difficult ideas. Unfortunately, the illustrations in some of the books add nothing to them but confusion. In addition, the writing can be flat and thick, the writer having failed to take the playfulness of the series into account. Introducing Kant is a perfect example. That having been said, Introducing Barthes is without a doubt the best of the 10 or so books of the Introducing series I have read so far. The writer shows a deep sensitivity when discussing Barthes both as a thinker and as a person, and he illustates a great deal of personal reflection regarding Barthes' ideas--this is not stuff straight off the shelf. This book was written by someone who has a deep appreciation of Barthes, and it shows. This is what most impressed me. Clearly, this text reflects the intentions of the series in its attempt to bring a difficult subject down to earth. If you want to get a foothold into Barthes, this is an excellent place to begin.