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Illustration by Gustave Doré, 1873

The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel (in French, La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel) is a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. It is the story of two giants, a father (Gargantua) and his son (Pantagruel) and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein. There is much crudity and scatological humor as well as a large amount of violence. Long lists of vulgar insults fill several chapters. At the same time he gives this definition of what he names Pantagruelism (the philosophy of his giant Pantagruel): "a certain gaiety of mind pickled in the scorn of fortuitous things" (in French, "une certaine gaîté d'esprit confite dans le mépris des choses fortuites").

Rabelais studied Ancient Greek, and used this as he invented hundreds of new words, some of which became part of the French language.[citation needed] His quibbling and other wordplay fills the book, and is quite free from any prudishness.

The introduction to the series, in an English translation,[1] runs:

Readers, friends, if you turn these pages
Put your prejudice aside,
For, really, there's nothing here that's outrageous,
Nothing sick, or bad — or contagious.
Not that I sit here glowing with pride
For my book: all you'll find is laughter:
That's all the glory my heart is after,
Seeing how sorrow eats you, defeats you.
I'd rather write about laughing than crying,
For laughter makes men human, and courageous.

BE HAPPY!

Contents

Plot summary

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Pantagruel

The full modern English title for the work commonly known as Pantagruel is The Horrible and Terrifying Deeds and Words of the Very Renowned Pantagruel King of the Dipsodes, Son of the Great Giant Gargantua and in French, Les horribles et épouvantables faits et prouesses du très renommé Pantagruel Roi des Dipsodes, fils du Grand Géant Gargantua. The original title of the work was Pantagruel roy des dipsodes restitué à son naturel avec ses faictz et prouesses espoventables[2]). Although most modern editions of Rabelais's work place Pantagruel as the second volume of a series, it was actually published first, around 1532 under the pen name "Alcofribas Nasier",[2] an anagram of Francois Rabelais. Pantagruel was a sequel to an anonymous book entitled The Great Chronicles of the Great and Enormous Giant Gargantua (in French, Les Grandes Chroniques du Grand et Enorme Géant Gargantua). This early Gargantua text enjoyed great popularity, despite its rather poor construction. Rabelais's giants are not described as being of any fixed height, as in the first two books of Gulliver's Travels, but vary in size from chapter to chapter to enable a series of astonishing images as though these were tall tales. For example, in one chapter Pantagruel is able to fit into a courtroom to argue a case but in another the narrator resides inside Pantagruel's mouth for 6 months and discovers an entire nation living around his teeth.

Gargantua

After the success of Pantagruel, Rabelais revisited and revised his source material. He produced an improved narrative of the life and acts of Pantagruel's father in The Very Horrific Life of Great Gargantua, Father of Pantagruel (in French, La vie très horrificque du grand Gargantua, père de Pantagruel), commonly known as Gargantua. This volume included one of the most notable parables in Western Philosophy: that of the Abbey of Thélème, which can either be considered a point-for-point critique of the educational practices of the age, or a call to free schooling, or all sorts of notions on human nature.

The Third Book

Rabelais then returned to the story of Pantagruel himself in the last three books. The Third Book of Pantagruel (in French, Le tiers-livre de Pantagruel. The original title is Le tiers livre des faicts et dicts héroïques du bon Pantagruel[2]) concerns Pantagruel and his friend Panurge, who spend the entire book discussing with many people the question of whether Panurge should marry; the question is unresolved. The book ends with the start of a sea voyage in search of the oracle of the divine bottle to resolve once and for all the question of marriage.

The Fourth Book

The sea voyage continues for the whole of The Fourth Book of Pantagruel (in French, Le quart-livre de Pantagruel. The original title is Le quart livre des faicts et dicts héroïques du bon Pantagruel[2]). Pantagruel encounters many exotic and strange characters and societies during this voyage, such as the Shysteroos, who make their living by charging people to beat them up.

The whole book can be seen as a comical retelling of the Odyssey or — more convincingly — of the story Jason and the Argonauts. In The Fourth Book, which has been described as his most satirical book, Rabelais criticizes what he perceived as the arrogance and wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, the political figures of the time, popular superstitions and addresses several religious, political, linguistic, and philosophical issues.

The Fifth Book

At the end of The Fifth Book of Pantagruel (in French, Le cinquième-livre de Pantagruel. The original title is Le cinquiesme et dernier livre des faicts et dicts héroïques du bon Pantagruel[2]), which was published posthumously around 1564, the divine bottle is found.

Although some parts of book 5 are truly worthy of Rabelais, the last volume's attribution to him is debatable. Book five was not published until nine years after Rabelais's death and includes much material that is clearly borrowed (such as from Lucian's True History and Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili[3]) or of lesser quality than the previous books. In the notes to his translation of Gargantua and Pantagruel, Donald M. Frame proposes that book 5 may have been formed from unfinished material that a publisher later patched together into a book. This interpretation has been mainly proved by Mireille Huchon in "Rabelais Grammairien"[4], the very first book in Rabelais' exegesis history to provide a rigorous grammatical analysis on this complex matter.

Criticism

Bakhtin's Analysis of Rabelais

Pantagruel01.jpg
Gargantua02.jpg
An example of the giants' shift in body size, above where people are the size of Pantagruel's foot, and below where Gargantua is hardly twice the height of a human.

Mikhail Bakhtin's book Rabelais and His World explores Gargantua and Pantagruel and is considered a classic of Renaissance studies (Clark and Holquist 295). Bakhtin declares that, for centuries, Rabelais' book had been misunderstood. Throughout Rabelais and His World, Bakhtin attempts two things: first, to recover sections of Gargantua and Pantagruel that, in the past, were either ignored or suppressed, and, second, to conduct an analysis of the Renaissance social system in order to discover the balance between language that was permitted and language which was not. It is by means of this analysis that Bakhtin pinpoints two important subtexts in Rabelais' work: the first is carnival which Bakhtin describes as a social institution, and the second is grotesque realism, which is defined as a literary mode. Thus, in Rabelais and His World Bakhtin studies the interaction between the social and the literary, as well as the meaning of the body (Clark and Holquist 297-299).

Bakhtin explains that carnival, in Rabelais' work and age, is associated with the collectivity; for those attending a carnival do not merely constitute a crowd; rather the people are seen as a whole, organized in a way that defies socioeconomic and political organization (Clark and Holquist 302). According to Bakhtin, “[A]ll were considered equal during carnival. Here, in the town square, a special form of free and familiar contact reigned among people who were usually divided by the barriers of caste, property, profession, and age” (Bakhtin 10). At carnival time, the unique sense of time and space causes the individual to feel he is a part of the collectivity, at which point he ceases to be himself. It is at this point that, through costume and mask, an individual exchanges bodies and is renewed. At the same time there arises a heightened awareness of one’s sensual, material, bodily unity and community (Clark and Holquist 302).

Bakhtin says also that in Rabelais the notion of carnival is connected with that of the grotesque. The collectivity partaking in the carnival is aware of its unity in time as well as its historic immorality associated with its continual death and renewal. According to Bakhtin, the body is in need of a type of clock if it is to be aware of its timelessness. The grotesque is the term used by Bakhtin to describe the emphasis of bodily changes through eating, evacuation, and sex: it is used as a measuring device (Clark and Holquist 303).

Illustrations

The most famous and reproduced illustrations for Gargantua and Pantagruel were done by French artist Gustave Doré and published in 1854.[5] Several appear in this article. Over 400 additional drawings were done by Doré for the 1873 second edition of the book. Another set of illustrations was done by French artist Joseph Hémard and published in 1922.[6]

Further reading

References

  1. ^ As translated by Burton Raffel, 1989.
  2. ^ a b c d e Rabelais, François; Jacques Boulenger (1955). Rabelais Oeuvres Complètes. France: Gallimard. pp. 1033. 
  3. ^ Marcel Francon, "Francesco Colonna's 'Poliphili Hypnerotomachia' and Rabelais", The Modern Language Review, Vol. 50, No. 1 (January 1955), pp. 52-55
  4. ^ "Rabelais grammairien. De l'histoire du texte aux problèmes d'authenticité", Mirelle Huchon, in Etudes Rabelaisiennes XVI, Geneva, 1981
  5. ^ J. Bry Ainé, Paris, 1854.
  6. ^ Crès, Paris, 1922.

See also

External links


, 1873]]

The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel (in French, La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel) is a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. It is the story of two giants, a father (Gargantua) and his son (Pantagruel) and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein. The text features much crudity, scatological humor, and violence. Lists of vulgar insults fill several chapters. According to Rabelais, the philosophy of his giant Pantagruel, "Pantagruelism", is rooted in "a certain gaiety of mind pickled in the scorn of fortuitous things" (French: "une certaine gaîté d'esprit confite dans le mépris des choses fortuites").

Rabelais had studied Ancient Greek, and he applied it in inventing hundreds of new words in the text, some of which became part of the French language.[1] Wordplay and risque humor abound in his writing.

The introduction to the series, in an English translation,[2] runs:

Readers, friends, if you turn these pages Put your prejudice aside, For, really, there's nothing here that's outrageous, Nothing sick, or bad — or contagious. Not that I sit here glowing with pride For my book: all you'll find is laughter: That's all the glory my heart is after, Seeing how sorrow eats you, defeats you. I'd rather write about laughing than crying, For laughter makes men human, and courageous.
BE HAPPY!

Contents

Plot summary

Pantagruel

The full modern English title for the work commonly known as Pantagruel is The Horrible and Terrifying Deeds and Words of the Very Renowned Pantagruel King of the Dipsodes, Son of the Great Giant Gargantua and in French, Les horribles et épouvantables faits et prouesses du très renommé Pantagruel Roi des Dipsodes, fils du Grand Géant Gargantua. The original title of the work was Pantagruel roy des dipsodes restitué à son naturel avec ses faictz et prouesses espoventables[3]). Although most modern editions of Rabelais's work place Pantagruel as the second volume of a series, it was actually published first, around 1532 under the pen name "Alcofribas Nasier",[3] an anagram of Francois Rabelais. Pantagruel was a sequel to an anonymous book entitled The Great Chronicles of the Great and Enormous Giant Gargantua (in French, Les Grandes Chroniques du Grand et Enorme Géant Gargantua). This early Gargantua text enjoyed great popularity, despite its rather poor construction. Rabelais's giants are not described as being of any fixed height, as in the first two books of Gulliver's Travels, but vary in size from chapter to chapter to enable a series of astonishing images as though these were tall tales. For example, in one chapter Pantagruel is able to fit into a courtroom to argue a case, but in another the narrator resides inside Pantagruel's mouth for 6 months and discovers an entire nation living around his teeth.

Gargantua

After the success of Pantagruel, Rabelais revisited and revised his source material. He produced an improved narrative of the life and acts of Pantagruel's father in The Very Horrific Life of Great Gargantua, Father of Pantagruel (in French, La vie très horrificque du grand Gargantua, père de Pantagruel), commonly known as Gargantua. This volume included one of the most notable parables in Western Philosophy: that of the Abbey of Thélème, which can either be considered a point-for-point critique of the educational practices of the age, or a call to free schooling,Template:Dn or all sorts of notions on human nature.

The Third Book

Rabelais then returned to the story of Pantagruel himself in the last three books. The Third Book of Pantagruel (in French, Le tiers-livre de Pantagruel; the original title is Le tiers livre des faicts et dicts héroïques du bon Pantagruel[3]) concerns Pantagruel and his friend Panurge, who spend the entire book discussing with many people the question of whether Panurge should marry; the question is unresolved. The book ends with the start of a sea voyage in search of the oracle of the divine bottle to resolve once and for all the question of marriage.

The Fourth Book

The sea voyage continues for the whole of The Fourth Book of Pantagruel (in French, Le quart-livre de Pantagruel; the original title is Le quart livre des faicts et dicts héroïques du bon Pantagruel[3]). Pantagruel encounters many exotic and strange characters and societies during this voyage, such as the Shysteroos, who make their living by charging people to beat them up.

The whole book can be seen as a comical retelling of the Odyssey, or of the story of Jason and the Argonauts. In The Fourth Book, which has been described as his most satirical book,[by whom?] Rabelais criticizes what he perceived as the arrogance and wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, the political figures of the time, and popular superstitions, and he addresses several religious, political, linguistic, and philosophical issues.

The Fifth Book

At the end of The Fifth Book of Pantagruel (in French, Le cinquième-livre de Pantagruel; the original title is Le cinquiesme et dernier livre des faicts et dicts héroïques du bon Pantagruel[3]), which was published posthumously around 1564, the divine bottle is found.

Although some parts of book 5 are truly worthy of Rabelais, the last volume's attribution to him is debatable. Book five was not published until nine years after Rabelais's death and includes much material that is clearly borrowed (such as from Lucian's True History and Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili[4]) or of lesser quality than the previous books. In the notes to his translation of Gargantua and Pantagruel, Donald M. Frame proposes that book 5 may have been formed from unfinished material that a publisher later patched together into a book. This interpretation has been mainly proved by Mireille Huchon in "Rabelais Grammairien",[5] the first book to provide a rigorous grammatical analysis on the matter.

Criticism

Bakhtin's analysis of Rabelais

An example of the giants' shift in body size, above where people are the size of Pantagruel's foot, and below where Gargantua is hardly twice the height of a human.

Mikhail Bakhtin's book Rabelais and His World explores Gargantua and Pantagruel and is considered a classic of Renaissance studies (Clark and Holquist 295). Bakhtin declares that, for centuries, Rabelais' book had been misunderstood. Throughout Rabelais and His World, Bakhtin attempts two things: first, to recover sections of Gargantua and Pantagruel that, in the past, were either ignored or suppressed; and, second, to conduct an analysis of the Renaissance social system in order to discover the balance between language that was permitted and language which was not. By means of this analysis, Bakhtin pinpoints two important subtexts in Rabelais' work: the first is carnival which Bakhtin describes as a social institution, and the second is grotesque realism, which is defined as a literary mode. Thus, in Rabelais and His World Bakhtin studies the interaction between the social and the literary, as well as the meaning of the body (Clark and Holquist 297-299).

Bakhtin explains that carnival, in Rabelais' work and age, is associated with the collectivity; for those attending a carnival do not merely constitute a crowd; rather the people are seen as a whole, organized in a way that defies socioeconomic and political organization (Clark and Holquist 302). According to Bakhtin, “[A]ll were considered equal during carnival. Here, in the town square, a special form of free and familiar contact reigned among people who were usually divided by the barriers of caste, property, profession, and age” (Bakhtin 10). At carnival time, the unique sense of time and space causes the individual to feel he is a part of the collectivity, at which point he ceases to be himself. It is at this point that, through costume and mask, an individual exchanges bodies and is renewed. At the same time there arises a heightened awareness of one’s sensual, material, bodily unity and community (Clark and Holquist 302).

Bakhtin says also that in Rabelais the notion of carnival is connected with that of the grotesque. The collectivity partaking in the carnival is aware of its unity in time as well as its historic immorality associated with its continual death and renewal. According to Bakhtin, the body is in need of a type of clock if it is to be aware of its timelessness. The grotesque is the term used by Bakhtin to describe the emphasis of bodily changes through eating, evacuation, and sex: it is used as a measuring device (Clark and Holquist 303).

Translations

Thomas Urquhart first translated the work into English in the mid-17th century, although his translation was incomplete, and Peter Anthony Motteux completed the translation of the fourth and fifth books. The Urquhart/Motteux version is far from literal, but Urquhart's work was described by J.M. Cohen in the preface to his 1955 translation as "more like a brilliant recasting and expansion than a translation", although Motteux's contribution was criticised as "no better than competent hackwork... [W]here Urquhart often enriches, he invariably impoverishes". The Urquhart/Motteaux translation is out of copyright, and so it has been used for many reprinted editions, including that of Britannica's "Great Books of the Western World". To a modern reader, this English version is now very difficult to read because many of the slang terms, such as those for shitting, farting, copulating and urinating have long been archaic.

William Francis Smith made a new translation in 1893, trying to match Rabelais' sentence forms exactly, which renders the English obscure in places. For example the convent prior exclaims against Friar John when the latter bursts into the chapel, "What will this drunken Fellow do here? Let one take me him to prison. Thus to disturb divine Service!" Smith's version includes copious notes.

John Michael Cohen's modern translation, first published in 1955 by Penguin, "admirably preserves the frankness and vitality of the original", according to its back cover, and is the most readable text for a modern reader, although it has virtually no footnotes to explain Rabelais' allusions.

Illustrations

The most famous and reproduced illustrations for Gargantua and Pantagruel were done by French artist Gustave Doré and published in 1854.[6] Several appear in this article. Over 400 additional drawings were done by Doré for the 1873 second edition of the book. Another set of illustrations was done by French artist Joseph Hémard and published in 1922.[7]

Further reading

See also

References

  1. ^ Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and his World. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984. p. 110.
  2. ^ As translated by Burton Raffel, 1989.
  3. ^ a b c d e Rabelais, François; Jacques Boulenger (1955). Rabelais Oeuvres Complètes. France: Gallimard. pp. 1033. 
  4. ^ Marcel Francon, "Francesco Colonna's 'Poliphili Hypnerotomachia' and Rabelais", The Modern Language Review, Vol. 50, No. 1 (January 1955), pp. 52-55
  5. ^ "Rabelais grammairien. De l'histoire du texte aux problèmes d'authenticité", Mirelle Huchon, in Etudes Rabelaisiennes XVI, Geneva, 1981
  6. ^ J. Bry Ainé, Paris, 1854.
  7. ^ Crès, Paris, 1922.

External links


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