Butor, Michel

Butor, Michel

(mēshĕl` bütôr`), 1926–2016, French novelist and critic. As one of the chief exponents of the nouveau roman [new novel] (see French literatureFrench literature,
writings in medieval French dialects and standard modern French. Writings in Provençal and Breton are considered separately, as are works in French produced abroad (as at Canadian literature, French).
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), Butor was less interested in the outcome of action in his novels than he was in the action itself. Employing shifting time sequences, a detached attitude, strong visual images, and the interior monologue, he often focused on one small area of experience to reveal the larger complexity of life. His novels include Passage de Milan (1954), L'Emploi du Temps (1956; tr. Passing Time, 1960), La Modification (1957; tr. Second Thoughts, 1958, A Change of Heart 1959), Degrés (1960, tr. Degrees, 1961). After 1960 he largely abandoned the novel, focussing his literary efforts on a number of forms, such as essays, critical pieces, poetry, musical texts, books on artists, and studies of writers, places, and ideas. His late works include Mobile (1962; tr. Mobile: Study for a Representation of the United States, 1963), Niagara (1969, tr. 1969), Boomerang (1978), and a five-volume book combining these forms entitled Matière de Rêves [stuff of dreams] (1975–85).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Butor, Michel


Born Sept. 14, 1926, in Mons-en-Baroeul, a suburb of Lille. French writer.

In his rhythmic prose (for example, the novel Passage From Milan, 1954), Butor reflected on his experience as a human being and a poet (the poem Michurin, 1949, published 1966). Butor’s heroes display great energy in their effort to resist the leveling power of the capitalist city and bourgeois life (the novels Passing Time, 1956, and A Change of Heart, 1957) or to save themselves from deadly routines (the novel Degrees, 1960). However, they see no way out. An opponent of the theory of “pure art,” Butor sometimes pays tribute to experimentalism (the radio show Air Lines, 1962), overestimating the role of the literary techniques of M. Proust and J. Joyce (the critical collection Repertoire, 1960) and becoming carried away with the metaphysics of structuralism (Repertoire II, 1964). Butor’s work has profound meaning when, violating the rules of the so-called school of the new novel, he gives sociohistorical reasons for the transformation of the individual in the USA into a cog in a machine (the novelistic reportage Mobile, 1962). Butor is the author of studies on C. Baudelaire (An Extraordinary Story, 1961), D. Diderot (Repertoire III, 1968), and M. Montaigne (The Essay “On Experience,” 1968). He has also written an autobiography (Portrait of the Artist as a Monkey, 1967).


Le génie du lieu. Paris, 1958.
Description de San Marco.[Paris, 1963].
Illustrations.[Paris, 1964].
6, 810, 000 litres d’eau par seconde.[Paris, 1965].
In Russian translation:
“Stupeni [Fragment romana].” Inostrannaia literatura, 1963, no. 1.
“Izmenenie.” Ibid., 1970, nos. 8-9.


Balashova, T. Frantsuzskii roman 60-x godov. Moscow, 1965.
Charbonnier, G. Entretiens avec M. Butor.[Paris, 1967].
Leiris, M. “Le réalisme mythologique du M. Butor.” In M. Butor, La modification.[Paris, 1965].
Raillard, G. Butor.[Paris, 1968]. (Bibliography, pp. 295-313.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Butor, Michel. "Le voyage et l'ecriture." In Repertoire IV, 9-29.
(4.) Butor, Michel. Essais sur le roman (Paris: Gallimard, 1964), 111.