The Journal of Jules Renard
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"Directly, or indirectly, Renard is at the origin of contemporary literature."--Jean-Paul Sartre Spanning from 1887 to a month before his death in 1910, The Journal of Jules Renard is a unique autobiographical masterpiece that, though celebrated abroad, is largely undiscovered in the United States.
Spanning from 1887 to a month before his death in 1910, The Journal of Jules Renard is a unique autobiographical masterpiece that, though celebrated abroad and cited as a principle influence by writers as varying as Somerset Maugham and Donald Barthelme, remains largely undiscovered in the United States. Throughout his journal, Renard develops not only his artistic convictions but also his humanity as he reflects on the nineteenth-century French literary and art scene, and on the emergence of his position as an important novelist and playwright in that world. Renard provides aphorisms and quips, and portrays the details of his personal life―his love interests, his position as a socialist mayor of Chitry, the suicide of his father―that often appear in his work.
I know, because I walk about in exactly the same manner, with the same air, and I can answer in all certainty: “Nothing.” JULY Baïe places a snail beside a tortoise, to see what they will say to each other. Bells live in the air, like birds. The air, at midday, burns and hums. To think is not enough; you must think of something. I am not struck by things: I remember them. Our life seems like a trial run. Their language is full of little pennyworth images that amuse them. Style is the
“It’s a marvel,” repeats Antoine . . . “I have seldom heard anything like it. I should not have thought you could make that out of Poil de Carotte. You will have a hundred performances.” “You’re not joking?” “I am incapable of joking.” “And you are ready to play Lepic?” “I should say so!” I notice that I have already put on my hat. Solemnly, I take it off. That should have pleased Antoine. How quickly joy becomes tiring! I shouldn’t want to be too happy for anything in the world. Joy
Dreams swift as a pigeon passing in front of a window. Style. When “amethyst” comes along, “topaz” is not far behind. Music. I owe some of my most pleasant day-dreams to the hum of a tea kettle. When Ragotte eats, she always looks as though she were doing something holy. The odor of a great house: the acrid odor of servants who never wash. At the zoo. The kangaroo jumps in precise and rubbery leaps the whole length of his alley, and, with his two front paws against his chest, seems to be
murdered. A natural cry, perhaps; that is, from nature. Unperturbed as an ox who could not be sold at the fair. At four o’clock, Ragotte stuffs herself with bread. Standing in the court, she holds a salt cellar in one hand and dips a cucumber into it. “My bread was too old,” she says. “It didn’t give me any appetite. The cucumber and the salt will push it along.” They don’t see themselves at all. They would not recognize themselves in Frères Farouchaes. They would say: “Well, what of it?
water: silence upon silence. What is the good of these notebooks? No one tells the truth, not even the one who writes it down. FEBRUARY Certain liars have such a need of lying that one takes pity on them and helps them along. Absorbed as a cat watching on the ceiling the reflection of a lamp. I cannot make up my mind to put an end to my difficulties by calling in God. Marinette weeps for the two of us, and, as for me, I help her a little. Is it because I was the last to enter the Académie