Michel Butor

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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.
References in periodicals archive ?
Signs and Designs: Art and Architecture in the Work of Michel Butor. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003.
Regisseur follows a similar pattern, but also includes chapters written in the second person, in the tradition of Michel Butor's La Modification (1957).
Of all the writers who have been broadly categorized under the heading 'nouveau roman', Michel Butor is the one who has had the most varied and active contact with the visual arts.
Many French authors have favored it, most recently Michel Butor and Claude-Michel Cluny.
Experimentation with the concepts of time and space has always marked the writings of Michel Butor. From the very first novels Passage de Milan (1954) and L'emploi du temps (1956) to the more recent essays and imaginative criticism like Improvisations sur Henri Michaux (1985), Butor has sought to reexamine literary devices and the view of reality that they inevitably implied.