Neglected by his parents, bullied by his peers, left to wander the streets and woods by himself (that is, when he isn't locked in his room or the cellar for punishment), the little redheaded boy known as "Poil de Carotte" ["Carrot Top"] manages to survive the worst that rural France has to offer. His triumph is one of imagination, cunning, and sheer persistence. An inspiration to writers as diverse as Barthelme, Beckett, and Sartre, Jules Renard's timeless novel-in-stories is at once the lyrical account of a hard-knock provincial childhood and a frighteningly acute psychological study of how cruelty can affect a young mind-a book that is by turns chilling, humorous, and quietly beautiful.
Born in Châlons-du-Maine, France, in 1864, Jules Renard was a poet, novelist, playwright, a member of the Académie Goncourt, and the mayor of the town of Chitry. His most famous works include Nature Stories, L'Écornifleur, and his posthumously published Journal. Poil de Carotte has been adapted numerous times for the screen. Renard died in 1910.
Ralph Manheim (1907-1992) was one of the 20th century's greatest literary translators from French and German. His work includes translations of Brecht, Céline, Günter Grass, Peter Handke, Heidegger, Hesse, among many others. Manheim was the recipient of numerous honors, including the National Book Award and a MacArthur Fellowship.