Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The writer Michel Butor, figure of the Nouveau Roman, died – The World

Le Monde | • Updated | By

Michel Butor, December 5, 1964, in Paris.

As for defense rather exceptional dimensions of his work and its variety, with a considerable space left to criticism and analysis of the classics, Michel Butor said, distinguishing itself from other writers of the New Novel:

“I was the only teacher. I was constantly obliged by honesty, situate what I wrote or what other qu’écrivaient compared to what had happened before and the general situation where we apparaissions. I hope I have made some innovations. But I think I have brought a lot more novelty after my romantic period than during the same period. If I brought something new is that I was driven by the momentum of news that comes from the depths of centuries. “

It was the centenary of the death of Jules Verne, one of his many ” interlocutors “

” I have been very critical of my life on all sides. I really outraged. So I needed accomplices. Contemporaries were not sufficient to me. Some have helped me, but it was insufficient. I needed Respondents “much better placed” … That’s why I wrote many critical essays. “

Michel Butor died on the morning of Wednesday, August 24 at the hospital in Contamine-sur-Arve in Haute-Savoie, not far from his home, announced the World his family.

belonging to the “school look”

If there is no doubt that Passage of Milan (Minuit, 1954), time Out (Midnight, price Fénéon, 1956) and especially the Change ( ibid. , price Renaudot, 1957), the narrative in the second person plural will be many imitators, finally mark the history of the french novel and fully justify the membership of Butor to “school look”, it is also clear that writer quickly escapes any simplistic classification.

Poet, unlike his most famous colleagues (Claude Simon, Nathalie Sarraute, Alain Robbe-Grillet), it continues for more than half a century a series of publications that includes categories by more or less shifting and alternating ( “the genius of the place”, “dreams of Materials,” “Improvisations”, “illustration”, “taste Before”, “Directories”) in which he realizes his many travels and discoveries that allow it to perform a genuine reasoned description of the world, with some regular attachment points

Read also:. Michel Butor “the memory of a giant with winged eyes”

His visits or stays in Egypt, Mexico, in Venice, the United States, Japan resulted in sometimes very original publications, as Mobile (Gallimard, 1962) or 6.81 million liters of water per second ( ibid. , 1963), Transit book that reads upside down, (Gallimard, 1993) or Japan from France, a dream anchored (Hatier, 1998). It is hundreds, if not thousands, that have the works of Butor, sometimes drawn to a small number of copies, as artist’s books, but production is nonetheless breathtaking.

understand all languages ​​

his insatiable curiosity, his need to communicate with living artists and understand all languages ​​(music, photography, painting mostly) give an encyclopedic look at his research. He devoted particular studies to Mondrian, Vieira da Silva, Giacometti, Rothko, Alechinsky, Barcelo, but also Delacroix, Rembrandt.

No doubt his teaching profession he led the first traveling, imbuing it with the need to describe the new worlds. Ironically, the one who became known for obsessive four novels to narrow situations and locked (a building, a business, a train, a high school class) is the writer of travel and exploration, the great outdoors, remote cultures . And when compared to his fellow Editions de Minuit, we must admit this fundamental difference. It is always elsewhere.

Caring little representation in an editorial environment that eventually the snub, it arouses real passion, however, in his artist friends and in academics. It is crowned with a number of prestigious awards, he published with major publishers. But precisely among several, which means reciprocal weariness. A need for freedom. Few writers have accepted so many interviews (including assembled at Joseph K. publisher in 1999 in three volumes under the title Forty years of literary life ).

it also dialogued with André Clavel ( resume , Plon, 1996) and Carlo Ossola ( Conversation on time the Difference, 2012) and by correspondence with Frederick -Yves Jeannet ( From the distance Castor astral, 2000). Mireille Calle-Gruber undertook principled publication of his work from 2006 (for 80 years) Editions La Difference. Twelve volumes, each more than a thousand pages in large format, had appeared in 2010.

The philosophy studies

As Michel Tournier, Butor has studied philosophy. Secretary Jean Wahl, it was destined for a classic teaching career in this discipline, but his failure to aggregation orients towards literature. It will make a career abroad, before entering somehow in the ranks of the Swiss university in Geneva, where, after a stay in Nice, he will give intensive courses until 1991. Flaubert, Balzac, Rimbaud became the subject of further analysis in its course, included in the series of Improvisations , published by the difference.

But, in truth, everything could arouse in him a craze: a herbarium, a museum, a workshop, a photo album, a ruin, collages, artisanal work, calendar, architecture. Everything reviving a taste for language and some sort of duty to inexhaustible description. He was playing on words with gaiety, sensuality, but without superficiality; words and foreign languages; it was no more a poet of lyrical effusion a formalist poet.

He wrote in journey as a painter sketches track. He wanted to capture the diversity of the world and sensitivities appropriated it as a kind of Zelig or Fregoli literature. A half removed in Haute-Savoie in a house invaded by his books, he had the look of a wise hermit, a patriarch to Gaston Bachelard, philosopher with whom he had shared a bit more than the silhouette, the beard and the mocking gaze. As the author of The Air and Dreams , Michel Butor sought to define a generalized poetic world, in all sorts of paths. For “one of the most important ways to influence the reality is to go through the language,” he assured the World in July.

Michel Butor, March 9 in Paris.

More than a mere observer

No doubt it was his generation (which was also that of Michel Foucault) he that put most profoundly into question the notion of authorship. Its unique ability to interact with artists, poets, cultures, landscapes made him more than just an observer or a witness. Certainly it was disturbing that fictional narration was quickly ceased to interest him. Although his four novels remain classics, they were not written for a very brief period when he was thirty years. The rest of his life was busy, can we say, to learn and to teach others.

There are few such works as humble before the task of learning and productions as protean. Ambition is not lacking, but the arrogance was completely absent. His innovations were compelling in the novel, but it does not stop there. He never returned it, not emphasized them. Bittern still going on. When asked to explain his narrative techniques, he bowed to the stress, but with some serious detached critically speaking of another.

His own fertility also made modest Butor, who performed a selection of his poems ( nomadic Anthology , “Poetry”, Gallimard, 2004) and organized several exhibitions of his many publications in small print (including the national Library, which recounted his travels worldwide).

Butor was he a writer for writers? Nathalie Sarraute, Claude Simon, but Barthes, Le Clézio expressed all their admiration. The literature did, he repeated part of reality: it was not only revealing the mirror, but something just as a city, a human, a river or the sky. He had, in the course of this infinite dialogue, published in spring 2016 a Hugo (Buchet-Chastel) and Future Ruins (Actes Sud / City Angers ), “book-upholstery” on the hanging of the Apocalypse the chateau d’Angers.

Michel Butor few dates

14 September 1926

Born in Mons-en-Barœul (North)


Passage of Milan (Midnight)


the Use of time (Midnight)


The Change (Midnight, price Renaudot)


Beginning of the publication of his complete works published by La Difference


Large French Academy prize for literature for his body of work

24 August 2016

Death in Contamines-sur-Arve ( Haute-Savoie)


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