Renard's stories (La Lanterne sourde) or novels (Poil de Carotte, and L'Ecornifleur) or anything else he wrote for that matter, including his Journal are all assays into the stylistically exquisite, the psychologically sharp. Like Flaubert, he's a master of le mot juste, a redeemer of the banal; like Colette and some of Gide he's sweet and sour all at the same time. Though he's had his vogue in Europe, even to the opposite extent of becoming a bete noire for the existentialists, on our shores he doesn't yet merit a biographical citing in the Encyclopedia Britannica. However, the publication here of the Journal, almost miraculously well translated, should change all that . This is the sort of writing you read with a pencil handy: so many pungent phrases and insights. The work, or rather selections from it (the ""necessary"" abridgment's regrettable) extends from 1887 to 1910, from the age of 23 to his death. In it Renard offers portraits of the Chitty countryside, the Parisian theatrical and literary clans, his devastating parents, his marriage and, of course, himself. Not particularly compassionate (the Verlaine funeral piece, for instance) nor above the nasty (Loti, Guitry, Rostand etc. all receive one or more cracks) his ability, nevertheless, to sum up a person, a scene, an interchange of dialogue, or a barely effable perception, along with his own stubborn self-analysis is well-nigh incredible. Dryly poignant, windingly funny, a rare work whose rareties you keep discovering over and over again.