Paris – Rom – Paris. Die varronischen Sondergötter bei Augustin und Michel Butor
Pages 19 - 48
In his novel La Modification (1957, Second Thoughts, 1958) Michel Butor brings together several currents of thought characteristic of his time: By his reference to St. Augustine, he follows the Augustinian revival of the fifties which culminated in the festivities at Paris in 1954, celebrating the 1600th anniversary of the church father’s birth. In his vision of Varro’s Roman deities, Butor takes away the apologetic edge from Augustine’s presentation. Instead, he evokes a romantically transfigured image of Venus. The union of the two capitals the protagonist tries to achieve corresponds to the political twinning of Paris and Rome concluded just before the publication of the novel on the eve of the Treaty of Rome. When overlaying Varro’s triad with the central triad of Georges Dumézil (Jupiter – Mars – Quirinus), Butor pays homage to contemporary structuralism. But if the union of the two cities fails because of the historical reality, the novel already anticipates the end of the Nouveau roman and the end of structuralism.