Michel Butor

Outline biography

The table below provides a selective overview of certain key events and periods in Michel Butor's life.

The beach at Nice in France
Photo credit: largemaster2 via iStock.com

‘Vous prendrez des araucarias et des magnolias, des lilas et des daturas, des figuiers de Barbarie et des cyprès/ que vous mêlerez à des plages de galets’

Carnaval Transatlantique: Ballade municipale (Nice)

1926 Born on 14 September in Mons-en-Baroeul, Nord
1929 Butor family moves to Paris
1940 Enters seconde at the Lycée Louis-Le-Grand, Paris
1944-47 Student at Sorbonne. Initially studies literature, then transfers to philosophy
1946 Begins DES under the direction of Gaston Bachelard
1947-48 Prepares the Agrégation de philosophie
1950 Spends summer vacation in Germany at the Château de Harburg
1950 Teacher in Sens
1950-51 Teacher at El Minya, Egypt
1951-53 Lecteur at the University of Manchester
1954-55 Teacher in Thessaloniki
1955-56 Temporary replacement for Roland Barthes at the École Nationale Supérieure
1956 Awarded Prix Fénéon for L’Emploi du temps
1956-57 Teacher in Geneva
1957 Awarded Prix Renaudot for La Modification
1958 Marries Marie-Josèphe Mas on 22 August
1959 Birth of first daughter, Cécile, on 23 June
1960 Temporary replacement for Maurice Nadeau at Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia
1960 During vacation, teaches at Middlebury, Vermont
1960 Birth of second daughter, Agnès, on 17 June
1960 Death of father
1960 Returns to Paris
1960 Signs 'Manifeste des 121'
1960 Awarded Prix de la critique littéraire for Répertoire
1961 Trips to Italy, Switzerland, Majorca, Vienna, Belgium, UK, Germany
1962 Birth of third daughter, Irène, 25 March
1962-3 Appointed to Melodia Jones Chair, University of Buffalo
1963 Trip to Eastern Europe in September
1964 Spends a year in West Berlin, sponsored by the Ford Foundation
1964 Trips to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Paris
1965 Moves to Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois
1965 Spends autumn teaching at North Western University, in Evanston
1966 Member of jury at Venice Biennale
1966 Trips to Israel, USSR, Japan
1967 Birth of fourth daughter, Mathilde, on 5 March
1967 Visit to Australia
1968 Member of the group led by Maurice Roche which occupied the Hôtel de Massa
1969 Obtains temporary teaching post at the University of Vincennes
1969-1970 Visiting Professor and ‘Writer in Residence’ at the University of New Mexico
1970 Obtains post at the University of Nice; Butor family moves to Nice
1972 Death of mother
1973 Colloque de Cerisy on Butor
1973-74 Visiting Professor at the University of New Mexico
1973-74 Trips to America and Vancouver
1974 Obtains lecturing post at the University of Geneva
1976 Spends July and August in Australia as writer in residence at the University of Brisbane
1980 Trip to Japan
1981 Trip to Canada, USA
1984 Trip to Peru
1986 Butor family moves to Lucinges
1989 Spends April-July in Japan as a guest of the Rikkyo University in Tokyo
1991 Retires from University of Geneva
1992 Spends the autumn at the University of Montreal
1993 Trip to China
1995 Trip to Zimbabwe
1998 Grand Prix du romantisme Chateaubriand for Improvisations sur Balzac
2006 Prix Mallarmé for Seize Lustres
2006-2011 Publication of Butor's Œuvres complètes, edited by Mireille Calle-Gruber
2007 Grand Prix Sacem des poètes
2008 Grand Prix de l'académie Charles Cros for Petite histoire de la littérature française
2010 Death of Marie-Jo Butor, 30 October
2012 Awarded New York University Presidential Medal

Grand Prix de Littérature de l’Académie française


Grand Prix de Poésie de la SGDL


Dies on 24 August at Contamine-sur-Arve, France