World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Michel Butor

Michel Butor
Michel Butor in 2002
Born (1926-09-14) 14 September 1926
Mons-en-Baroeul, Nord, France
Occupation Writer
Nationality French
Genre Novel, criticism
Notable works La modification

Michel Butor (French: ; born 14 September 1926) is a French writer.


  • Life and work 1
  • Awards 2
  • Works 3
    • Novels 3.1
    • Criticism 3.2
    • Essays 3.3
    • Other genres 3.4
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Life and work

Michel Marie François Butor was born in Mons-en-Barœul, a suburb of Lille. He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, graduating in 1947. He has taught in Egypt, Manchester, Salonika, the United States, and Geneva. He has won many literary awards for his work, including the Prix Apollo, the Prix Fénéon; and the Prix Renaudot.

Journalists and critics have associated his novels with the nouveau roman, but Butor himself has long resisted that association. The main point of similarity is a very general one, not much beyond that; like exponents of the nouveau roman, he can be described as an experimental writer. His best-known novel, La Modification, for instance, is written entirely in the second person. In his 1967 La critique et l'invention, he famously said that even the most literal quotation is already a kind of parody because of its "trans-contextualization."[1][2][3][4]

For decades now, he has chosen to work in other forms, from essays to poetry to artist's books[5] to unclassifiable works like Mobile. Literature, painting and travel are subjects particularly dear to Butor. Part of the fascination of his writing is the way it combines the rigorous symmetries that led Roland Barthes to praise him as an epitome of structuralism (exemplified, for instance, by the architectural scheme of Passage de Milan or the calendrical structure of L'emploi du temps) with a lyrical sensibility more akin to Baudelaire than to Robbe-Grillet.

In an interview in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, conducted in 2006,[6] the poet John Ashbery describes how he wanted to sit next to Michel Butor at a dinner in New York.

Butor was a close friend and colleague of Elinor Miller, a French professor at Embry Riddle University. Butor and Miller worked collaboratively on translations and lectures. In 2002, Miller published a book on Butor entitled Prisms and Rainbows: Michel Butor's Collaborations with Jacques Monory, Jiri Kolar, and Pierre Alechinsky.[7]



His works include:


  • Passage de Milan (1954)
  • L'emploi du temps (1956) (translated into English as Passing Time) (awarded Fénéon Prize)
  • La modification (1957) (translated into English as Second Thoughts)
  • Degrés (1960)


  • Histoire extraordinaire : essai sur un rêve de Baudelaire (1961)
  • Les mots dans la peinture (1969)
  • Improvisations sur Flaubert (1984)
  • Improvisations sur Michel Butor : l'écriture en transformation (1993)
  • L'utilité poétique (1995)
  • Quant au livre : triptyque en l'honneur de Gauguin (2000)


  • "Répertoires [I à V]" (1960–1982)
  • "Essais sur le roman"

Other genres

  • Le génie de lieu (1958)
  • Mobile : étude pour une représentation des États-Unis (1962) (translated into English as Mobile: Study for a Representation of the United States)
  • Portrait de l'artiste en jeune singe (1967) [cf. Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man]
  • Niagara (1969)
  • Matière de rêves [I–V] (1975–1985)
  • Retour du boomerang (1988)
  • L'embarquement de la reine de Saba (1989)
  • Transit A, Transit B (1992)


  1. ^ A theory of parody: the teachings of twentieth-century art forms By Linda Hutcheon p.41
  2. ^ Allan H. Pasco (1994) Allusion: a literary graft p.217
  3. ^ Original quotation:
  4. ^ Michel Butor 1981 Letters from the Antipodes p.162 quotation:
  5. ^ Manuel Casimiro, Books on Manuel Casimiro.
  6. ^
  7. ^ The Fales Library of NYU's guide to Elinor Miller Paper
  • Jean-Louis de Rambures, "Comment travaillent les écrivains", Paris 1978 (interview with Michel Butor, in French)

External links

  • Michel Butor page, University of Edinburgh
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.