Jules Renard (1864–1910) was a French novelist, playwright, and diarist who divided his time between Paris and the Burgundian countryside for most of his life. He described his lonely childhood growing up in a cold bourgeois family in the autobiographical novel Poil de carotte (Carrot Top). Though educated to be a teacher, the young Renard moved to Paris where he took up with an actress of the Comédie-Française and was introduced into the city’s most prestigious literary salons. His marriage in 1888 to Marie Morneau brought him a large dowry and allowed him to devote himself to life as an homme de lettres and to found the literary review Mercure de France. For the rest of his short life Renard would spend the warmer months in Chitry, where like his father before him he became mayor. In Paris he lived the life of a member of the Académie Goncourt and counted among his friends Alphonse Daudet, Edmond de Goncourt, Anatole France, Paul Claudel, and Sarah Bernhardt. In addition to Poil de carotte and Histoires naturelles, Renard is best known for his five-volume Journal, cited as an influence by authors as diverse as W. Somerset Maugham, Susan Sontag, Donald Barthelme, and Samuel Beckett. Among his other works are Le plaisir de rompre, L’ écornifleur, and Huit jours à la campagne.
Whimsical and charming miniature portraits of subjects drawn from the natural world: dogs, cats, pigs, roses, snails, trees, birds, and others. Renards sketches are masterpieces of compression and description, capturing both appearance and behavior through details that make the familiar unfamiliar, yet surprisingly true to life.