When in doubt, pick up Jules Renard. His journal is unrivalled. A few choice picks from today’s reading (translated from the French by Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget):
- On the ridiculous: ‘Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it’ (February 1890).
- On André Gide: ‘He is clean-shaven, has a cold in the nose and throat, an exaggerated jaw, eyes between two welts. He is in love with Oscar Wilde, whose photograph I perceive on the mantel: a fleshy gentleman, very refined, also clean-shaven, who has recently been discovered’ (December 1891).
- On Oscar Wilde: ‘Oscar Wilde next to me at lunch. He has the oddity of being an Englishman. He gives you a cigarette, but he selects it himself’ (April 1892).
- On criticising others: ‘All our criticism consists of reproaching others with not having the qualities that we believe ourselves to have’ (July 1895).
- On observing nature: ‘I want my ear to be a shell that keeps in itself all the sounds of nature’ (September 1895).
- On modesty: ‘Be modest! It is the kind of pride least likely to offend’ (September 1895).
Rain, wind, moments of bright sunshine. Continuing to enjoy Thomas Merton‘s The Seven Storey Mountain: having completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia, he is now studying William Blake‘s poetry at postgraduate level.