Michel Butor


This page provides a brief introduction to Michel Butor's work and to the site.

The west facade of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home
Photo credit: John M. Chase via Getty Images

À Monticello, Thomas Jefferson a construit la maison de ses rêves.


A brief overview of Michel Butor's work

In the course of his long and extraordinarily productive writing career, Michel Butor published a very wide range of texts.

In addition to his numerous volumes of poetry and his four novels (Passage de Milan, L’Emploi du temps, La Modification, Degrés), Butor's publications include several mixed genre works which are normally classified under the heading 'romanesques':

  • Mobile
  • Réseau aérien
  • Description de San Marco
  • 6 810 000 litres d’eau par seconde
  • Intervalle

They also include the five-volume ‘travel’ series published under the collective title Le Génie du lieu, the writing and publication of which spanned much of his career:

  • Le Génie du lieu
  • Boomerang
  • Transit
  • Gyroscope

Butor was also a prolific literary and art critic and was involved in hundreds of collaborative ventures not only with other writers, but also with artists, photographers, composers and film-makers. His exploration of issues relating to genre resulted in the production of texts which combine fact and fiction, prose and poetry, words and images, and language and music. He also published a number of texts which were originally conceived as radio and film scenarios.

Butor was a highly communicative interviewee. In addition to the various interviews given to critics and academics over the years, many of which have been collected in the three-volume set edited by Henri Desoubeaux, Butor authorised the publication of around a dozen extended interviews which have been published in book form.

An overview of the content of the website

This website aims to provide a research and reference apparatus which will assist orientation within Butor’s vast oeuvre. The site provides the following tools:

  • an outline biography
  • a select bibliography of Butor’s collaborative ventures with visual artists
  • a select bibliography of Butor’s published interviews, correspondence and ‘dialogues’
  • a select bibliography of publications on Butor’s work
  • an index of topics covered in his interviews
  • a summary of contents for the five volumes of Répertoire
  • a select list of Butor archives and of UK and Irish Libraries holding rare books by Butor and collaborators
  • links to on-line publications by Butor, to interviews with him and to related websites