Abstract

This essay addresses Mary Butts’s imaginative mapping of interwar Paris in two unjustly neglected short stories from the 1930s, “Mappa Mundi” and “From Altar to Chimney-Piece.” These tales of Parisian café and salon culture function on one level as existential parables, focusing on an endangered and endangering topographical space that she designates as “Queer Street”—a site replete with “psychic” auras. She charts this terrain in a mode that is not strictly documentary but rather “ hypnographic,” geared towards a vivid dreamscape or a profound mystical dimension. This cartographic project seeks to divorce itself from two “debased” alternatives, with which her mapping has been confused by recent commentators: the pagan witchcraft synonymous with Aleister Crowley and a flamboyant bohemianism characterized by aesthetic pretense and hedonistic excess, both of which Butts explicitly disavows.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1464
Print ISSN
0022-281X
Pages
pp. 79-98
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Open Access
No
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