Jules Renard’s Carrot Top (Poil de Carotte) is the greatest 19th-century French novel that’s currently unavailable in English. And while we’re waiting for some enterprising indie press to put that book back into circulation, we’re thrilled this month by the reappearance of Renard’s earthy and wonderful Nature Stories.
Some of these sketches are four or five pages long; others pack an animal’s life story into just a few words: Renard’s butterfly is “a love letter, folded in two.” His donkey is “a rabbit who’s grown up.” And his goat “stands up on her hind legs, rests her front legs at the bottom of the notice-board, and wagging her beard and horns … moves her head from left to right, like an old woman reading.” (Afterward, “as the paper has a nice smell of fresh glue, she eats it.”) With illustrations by Pierre Bonnard.
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