Jules Renard was a French literary figure of the late nineteenth century. Not a Parisian but a committed countryman, he was elected mayor in 1904 of the tiny village of Citry-le-Mines in a remote part of northern Burgundy. He had the soul of a rustic bourgeois but the ambition of a metropolitan, and his wife’s money allowed him to move in elevated circles, though he seemed an awkward customer, a badger, and looked like one. He wrote fiction, journalism and drama, very successfully, but the Journal is Renard’s masterpiece. It constitutes a profusion of entries, without stitching or pattern – mordant reflections on style, literature and theatre; portraits of family, friends and the Parisian literary scene; quasi-ethnographical observations on village life and notations of the natural world which are unlike anything except themselves.