This is the first truly comprehensive study, in any language, of the writings of Louis Guilloux. It embraces all his fiction, including his short stories, to which little or no attention has previously been paid. The title refers to Guilloux's lifelong stance: an empathetic witness and listener to the lives of other people, who lifts anecdotes to the level of social and psychological life-studies. Highly valued by writers such as Malraux and Camus, Guilloux's work is studied here under several key categories (which represent overlaps and tensions rather than bleak opposites): memory and forgetfulness; the shifting relationship of individual and community; roots (stasis) and escape (movement); Guilloux and committed literature (La Maison du Peuple, Les Batailles perdues, and the trip to the USSR with Gide and Dabit).A long chapter is devoted to a close reading of Guilloux's baroque masterpiece, Le Sang noir, a much richer and less cerebral epic of an intellectual enmeshed in a provincial society than its successor, Sartre's La Nausee. Detailed attention is given to Guilloux's recycling of the model for the hero Cripure, the rogue elephant thinker Georges Palante. Le Sang noir is a haunted book.Guilloux's experiments with chronological dislocation (Le Jeu de patience), with narrative voices, essais de voix, (Coco perdu), with multiple personality (La Confrontation), and with the ambiguous pseudo-science of physiognomy (passim) are all fully analysed. Throughout, wherever called for, the culturally cosmopolitan Guilloux is compared or contrasted with writers from various countries: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gorky, Silone, Dickens, Valles, Camus, and Sartre. This is a matter less of influence than of Guilloux's choice of companions.