Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
Download Gargantua and Pantagruel ebook. The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel (French: La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel) is a pentalogy of novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais, which tells of the adventures of two giants, Gargantua (/ɡɑːrˈɡæntʃuːə/; French: [ɡaʁ.ɡɑ̃.ty.a]) and his son Pantagruel (/pænˈtæɡruːˌɛl, -əl, ˌpæntəˈɡruːəl/; French: [pɑ̃.ta.ɡʁy.ɛl]). The text is written in an amusing, extravagant, and satirical vein, and features much crudity, scatological humor, and violence (lists of explicit or vulgar insults fill several chapters).
The censors of the Collège de la Sorbonne stigmatized it as obscene, and in a social climate of increasing religious oppression in a lead up to the French Wars of Religion, it was treated with suspicion, and contemporaries avoided mentioning it. 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. Wordplay and risqué humor abound in his writing.
I am truly shocked that there are reviewers here complaining about this edition (tr. M.A. Screech – Penguin). This book is without a doubt a landmark in the publication of Rabelais in English. The translation is very accurate in meaning and yet quite readable. Cohen’s was full of euphemisms and Briticisms, not to mention flat-out mistranslations. Raffel’s is an anachronistic and groovy retelling – not really a translation at all. Screech’s notes ground the work in period context. I found them illuminating. Students of French literature should find them extremely useful. They are easily ignored, if one oddly finds them offensive.
The “dumbing down” mentioned by one reviewer really describes translations which simplify and pretend that an older work is contemporary by using current slang (e.g. Raffel, Mitchell, Slavitt et. al.). This edition should be the translation of choice for years to come and is especially recommendable for academic use.
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François Rabelais (/ˌræbəˈleɪ/; French: [fʁɑ̃swa ʁablɛ]; between 1483 and 1494 – 9 April 1553) was a French Renaissance writer, physician, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs. His best known work is Gargantua and Pantagruel.
Because of his literary power and historical importance, Western literary critics consider him one of the great writers of world literature and among the creators of modern European writing. His literary legacy is such that today, the word Rabelaisian has been coined as a descriptive inspired by his work and life. Merriam-Webster defines the word as describing someone or something that is “marked by gross robust humor, extravagance of caricature, or bold naturalism”.
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