Pierre Guyotat (born 9 January 1940) is a French writer.
Born in Bourg-Argental, Loire, Guyotat wrote his first novel, Sur un cheval, in 1960. He was called to Algeria in the same year. In 1962 he was found guilty of desertion and publishing forbidden material. After three months in jail he was transferred to a disciplinary centre. Back in Paris, he got involved in journalism, writing first for France Observateur, then for Nouvel Observateur. In 1964, Guyotat published his second novel Ashby.
In 1967, he published Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats (later released in English as Tomb for 500,000 Soldiers). Based on Guyotat's ordeal as a soldier in the Algerian War, the book earned a cult reputation and became the subject of various controversies, mostly because of its omnipresent sexual obsessions and homoeroticism.
In 1968, Guyotat became a member of the French Communist Party, which he left in 1971.
Eden, Eden, Eden came out in 1971 with a preface by Michel Leiris, Roland Barthes and Philippe Sollers (Michel Foucault's text was received late and therefore didn't appear as a preface). This book was banned from being publicized or sold to under-18s. A petition of international support was signed (notably by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Jean-Paul Sartre, Pierre Boulez, Joseph Beuys, Pierre Dac, Jean Genet, Joseph Kessel, Maurice Blanchot, Max Ernst, Italo Calvino, Jacques Monod, Simone de Beauvoir, and Nathalie Sarraute). François Mitterrand, and Georges Pompidou tried to get the ban lifted but failed. Claude Simon (who won the Nobel Prize in 1985) resigned from the jury of the Prix Médicis after the prize wasn't awarded to Eden, Eden, Eden.
In 1973, Guyotat's play Bond en avant ("Leap Forward") was performed. During the 1970s Guyotat was involved in various diverse protests: for soldiers, immigrants, and prostitutes. One of those cases was of great importance for him: he personally helped Mohamed Laïd Moussa, a 24 years old Algerian ex-teacher who was accused and then found guilty of unintentional murder in Marseilles. One week after he came out of jail, Mohamed Laïd Moussa was murdered by a masked man; the event had a profound impact on Pierre Guyotat, who carried on the battle for a while.
In 1975 his novel Prostitution came out (which incorporated Bond en avant as the final monologue). From this point on, Guyotat's novels deal with a new kind of illegibility and obscenity. The fictions still explore the unthinkable possibility of worlds structured by sexual slavery and transgression of fundamental taboos. But the French language is now unrecognizable, estranged by an extreme grammatical, syntactic and lexical creativity. Ellipses of letters or words, neologisms and phonetic transcriptions of Arabic speaking utterances make it difficult to understand. In the 1987 re-edition of Prostitution, a 120 pages appendix - resume, glossary, "grammar" and translations - is added to the actual fiction and help the disoriented reader.
In 1977, while working on Le Livre (1984) and Histoire de Samora Machel (yet unpublished), he suffered a psychiatric illness. The depression and the deterioration of his physical and mental state culminated, in December 1981, in a coma.
On December 30, 1981, the ban on Eden, Eden, Eden was lifted.
From 1984 to 1986, Guyotat gave a series of readings and performances of his work all over Europe.
In January 2000 he was involved in the reopening of the Centre Georges Pompidou at Beaubourg, contributing a reading of the first pages of Progénitures. In 2005, Sur un cheval was reedited and in April 2005 it was read on Radio France under Alain Ollivier's direction.
- "Body of the Text," transl. by Catherine Duncan, published in Polysexuality (Los Angeles, Semiotext(e), 1981).
- Eden, Eden, Eden, transl. by Graham Fox (London, Creation Books, 1995).
- Prostitution: An Excerpt, transl. by Bruce Benderson (New York, Red Dust, 1995).
- Tomb for 500,000 soldiers, transl. by Romain Slocombe (London, Creation Books, 2003).
- "Art is what remains of History," transl. by Paul Buck and Catherine Petit, published in Frozen Tears II (Birmingham, ARTicle Press, 2004).
- Coma, transl. by Noura Wedell (Los Angeles, Semiotext(e), 2010).
- Independence, transl. by Noura Wedell (Los Angeles, Semiotext(e), 2011).
- 1961 Sur un cheval (Seuil, Paris).
- 1964 Ashby (Seuil, Paris).
- 1967 Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats (Gallimard, Paris).
- 1970 Eden, Eden, Eden (Gallimard, Paris).
- 1975 Prostitution (Gallimard, Paris).
- 1984 Le Livre (Gallimard, Paris).
- 1995 Wanted Female, with Sam Francis (Lapis Press, Los Angeles).
- 2000 Progénitures (Gallimard, Paris) and Explications (Léo Scheer).
- 1972 Littérature interdite (Gallimard, Paris).
- 1984 Vivre (Denoël, Paris).
- 2000 Explications (Léo Scheer, Paris).
- 2006 Coma (Mercure de France, Paris).
- 2007 Formation (Gallimard, Paris).
- 2010 Arrière-fond (Gallimard, Paris).
- 2011 Leçons Sur la Langue Française (Léo Scheer, Paris).
- 2013 Pierre Guyotat : les grands entretiens d'Artpress (IMEC/Artpress, Paris).
- 1972 Bond en avant, produced by Marcel Bozonnet and Alain Ollivier
- 1987 Bivouac, produced by Alain Ollivier
- 2005 Sur un cheval with Valérie Crunchant and Mireille Perrier. Reading directed by Alain Ollivier for France Culture
- 2005 Carnets de bord, volume 1 1962-1969 (Ligne-Manifeste).
- 2005 Pierre Guyotat: Essai biographique by Catherine Brun (Editions Leo Scheer).
- Catherine Brun, Pierre Guyotat. Essai biographique, Paris: Léo Scheer, 2005, p. 220-221.
- The inhuman work of Pierre Guyotat by John Taylor for the TLS
- Recordings of Guyotat reading his work (in French) hosted by UbuWeb.