This book, the first comprehensive study of Aymé's work, explores the thematic and structural unity masked by the astonishing variety and complexity of the oeuvre. It underlines the constant tension between peasant and Parisian, moralist and entertainer, head and heart that gives Aymé's work its charm. After a preliminary chapter on Aymé the man, the book turns to an examination of Aymé's recurrent themes; sexual repression, schizophrenia, social order, illusion, thwarted ambition. This is complemented by an exploration of Aymé's art; the fluent, ironic style, the comic reversals, the rise-and-fall patterns, the personal and collective crises, the increasing tension in a flawed victim. These patterns combine with Aymé's key themes to convey a tender but tormented world-view where the vision of the moralist and the needs of the entertainer are finely balanced indeed.