Gargantua (French Edition)

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They are not open to challenge. It helps that they are also royalty in their milieu. Gargantua's son, Pantagruel whose name means "all thirst" , has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an insatiable appetite for food and alcohol. He receives the best tuition and acquires both wisdom and judgement. The novel effectively describes his adventures in learning, both within France and offshore. His diplomatic status assures him of safe passage. Thus, Rabelais is able to experience and assess other political options by observation without overtly challenging the status quo of his fictional royal family, precisely because it is a member of the family the Prince who is conducting the investigation.


The narrative is a number of successive inquisitions. It doesn't betray any particular preference or bias. Information and knowledge are goals in their own right.

They do not have to be purposive within the framework of the novel, even if Rabelais' own goal might have been to encourage greater freedom of choice in real life. Grotesque Realism conceives of reality or the human body as structured in a hierarchical or stratified manner. At the highest level is the abstract, ideal, spiritual and noble aspect of the mind. At the lowest level is the material, vulgar, irreverent, wanton aspect of the genitalia. Bakhtin sees the one transform into the other by a process of death, decay and degradation.

The middle level is that of the belly, the gut or the womb, which represents the process of excretion, transformation, renewal, rebirth or birth of a new being. These anatomical metaphors apply just as much to the body politic as the human body. Thus, the middle level is the process by which society and social order changes, e. The top level is both inverted and subverted from below. Rabelais would argue that these processes are not just violent, vulgar and offensive, but natural, inevitable and necessary. Hence, his novel, in which he describes the processes explicitly, is both ribald and profoundly serious.

It is both sexual and revolutionary, hence its perceived threat to the status quo upheld by King and Pope. The Opposite Sex and the Opposing Side Through our genitals and our mouths, we interact with each other and the world by way of sex, eating and drinking, all of which proliferate in the novel. Bumguts, tripes, bowels, codpieces, gashes and congress abound. Often, women are the mere target of male sexual activity.

This has attracted much criticism, starting at the time of publication when a number of women wrote fictional rejoinders. However, in its defence, there are a number of women who are queens or abbesses or in other positions of power in their own right. Equally importantly, there is a sense of wonder or ignorance, of apprehension or fear about the female body and mind. For all the sexual congress, women are a mystery, an unknown, an inexplicable.

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The institution of marriage represents both an opportunity and a concern. Surely, without marriage, there cannot be infidelity. Therefore, concludes the Prince's adviser, Panurge "all will or drive" , the best way to avoid being cuckolded is to eschew marriage. Thus, Rabelais suggests that the progress of life is not just about comprehending the workings of the social order, but also the nature of the opposite sex and the union with it in holy or unholy matrimony. Where Rabelais places conflict, Pantagruel seeks resolution. He seems to have a unique ability to placate opponents, resolve disputes and achieve a new order.

He shepherds people through the process of change. The subjects he most despises are not his opponents, but the lawyers who would provoke, inflame and prolong disputes for their own profit no doubt billed at hourly rates or per folio of written word. Therefore, freedom, honour and contentment can be achieved by giving to us what we long for and desire. Thus, regardless of the quest or the grail, truth is really to be found in the cup itself, and its contents the real sanc-greal, "a most divine thing".

View all 52 comments. Jan 26, Alex rated it really liked it Shelves: rth-lifetime , novel-a-biography , The foreman of farts! The sheik of shit! The rajah of rectums! The first joke in the world was a fart joke. Sophocles, Shakespeare, Melville, all liked fart jokes. But no one has ever farted like Rabelais. Here's the dirty truth: if you're not super into pages of 16th century fart jokes, you can read the first two books and skip the rest.

I KNOW! Only assholes do that! Look, you don't have to take my advice, I don't care, I'm just N Rabelais! No, they never actually said that? I fart in your general direction, pedant. You can read the first two books and love Rabelais, or read the whole thing and be annoyed.

Your choice. Book One in the order they were written is Pantagruel, and here's what Pantagruelism is, so you know what your pretentious college professor friends are talking about it when they start throwing that word around - p.

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There's a lot of drinking involved. But not drunkenness!

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You know how Europeans are. Pantagruelists are educated and intelligent; they're very pleased with themselves for being educated and intelligent; they swish wine around in their glasses before drinking it; they cultivate a certain smug detachment from the world. They're annoying, but not the most annoying; they do have interesting things to say, although they tend to bang on quite a bit. More stuff about Pantagruelists "They will never take in bad part anything they know to flow from a good, frank and loyal heart.

Just sorta douchey. This book also introduces the character Panurge, who is initially a terrific scoundrel. He wears a cloak with "over 26 pouches and pokes", containing "verjuice, which he flung into the eyes of the folks he came across; in another, burrs Fun stuff. Book Two is Gargantua, and this is great too. It features the famous bit where the young Gargantua describes all the different things he's tried wiping his ass with: cats, roses, hats, pigeons, but the best, he says, is a goose. Which is not true, because geese are cruel, but who are you gonna believe, me or a famous writer?

Anyway, Gargantua is driven insane by dumb medieval learnin', which I think we can all identify with; this is similar to what happens to Don Quixote 65 years later. Rote memorization is what turns Gargantua into a blithering idiot. A reeducation in the humanist, Renaissance style - a focus on being well-rounded, understanding texts, and also physical education - saves him.

Gargantua (Classiques de Poche) (French Edition) By Rabelais | eBay

This book also introduces the fightin', fuckin' cleric Frere Jean, one of Rabelais' better characters: "young, gallant, lively, lusty, adroit Panurge suddenly turns from a scoundrel to a dunce; he spends the whole book whinging about whether he should get married, which Rabelais uses as an excuse to expound on a number of Renaissance debates that you don't care about. Second: because I was vexed. Third, because I was vexed. It's just like an Odyssey-style journey, so that's fun.

But inessential. There's a lot of controversy over whether Book Five was written by Rabelais at all; my translator, whose name is seriously Screech, is positive it wasn't. That should give you enough of an excuse to skip it; it's fine but you certainly have the idea by now anyway, and it has nothing amazing to add.

Rabelais is pretty cool. There are some good jokes in here. There's this aside: "Madam, mind you don't fall in.

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Look, Rabelais is right: someday "you shall die, all peacefully pickled in farts. But maybe not all of it. View all 12 comments. Eschatological scatology this one I'm afraid. I did not think twas possible to mix so many farts with so many medieval microaggressions, dissertationes de misogynia etc.

The author narrates the adventures of two giants, Gargantua the father and Pantagruel the son and their comrades, using so many scatological exaggerations that the entire text becomes unbearable. Rabelais devotes a whole chapter to Gargantua's experiments to find the ideal material for wiping one's arse, with an abundance of Eschatological scatology this one I'm afraid. Rabelais devotes a whole chapter to Gargantua's experiments to find the ideal material for wiping one's arse, with an abundance of repulsive, explicit details.

In another chapter we are being presented with a story about how a married woman, rejecting another man's sexual advances, receives the punishment of being raped and ripped by a pack of dogs. This is textbook example of what the average medieval monk fantasized when they where not terrorizing their flocks with devilish visions of eternal punishment.

View all 14 comments. May 12, MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing Shelves: novels , penguin-classics , pernod-and-gauloises , voluminous , pres.