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".
|Born||Between 1483 and 1494|
Chinon, Kingdom of France
|Died||9 April 1553|
Paris, Kingdom of France
|Occupation||Writer, physician, humanist|
|Literary movement||Renaissance humanism|
|Notable works||Gargantua and Pantagruel|
No reliable documentation of the place or date of the birth of François Rabelais has survived. While some scholars put the date as early as 1483, he was probably born in November 1494 near Chinon in the province of Touraine, where his father worked as a lawyer. The estate of La Devinière in Seuilly in the modern-day Indre-et-Loire, allegedly the writer's birthplace, houses a Rabelais museum.
Rabelais became a novice of the Franciscan order, and later a friar at Fontenay-le-Comte in Poitou, where he studied Greek and Latin as well as science, philology, and law, already becoming known and respected by the humanists of his era, including Guillaume Budé (1467-1540). Harassed due to the directions of his studies and frustrated with the Franciscan order's ban on the study of Greek (because of Erasmus' commentary on the Greek version of the Gospel of Saint Luke),:11 Rabelais petitioned Pope Clement VII (in office 1523-1534) and gained permission to leave the Franciscans and to enter the Benedictine order at Maillezais in Poitou, where he was more warmly received.
Later he left the monastery to study medicine at the University of Poitiers and at the University of Montpellier. In 1532 he moved to Lyon, one of the intellectual centres of the Renaissance, and in 1534 began working as a doctor at the Hôtel-Dieu de Lyon (hospital), for which he earned 40 livres a year. During his time in Lyon, he edited Latin works for the printer Sebastian Gryphius, and wrote a famous admiring letter to Erasmus to accompany the transmission of a Greek manuscript from the printer. Gryphius published Rabelais' translations & annotations of Hippocrates, Galen and Giovanni Manardo. As a physician, he used his spare time to write and publish humorous pamphlets critical of established authority and preoccupied with the educational and monastic mores of the time.:13-15
In 1532, under the pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier (an anagram of François Rabelais), he published his first book, Pantagruel King of the Dipsodes, the first of his Gargantua series. The idea of basing an allegory on the lives of giants came to Rabelais from the folklore legend of les Grandes chroniques du grand et énorme géant Gargantua, which were sold as popular literature at the time in the form of inexpensive pamphlets by colporters and at the fairs of Lyon.:13 Pantagruelisme is an "eat, drink and be merry" philosophy, which led his books into disfavor with the church, simultaneously brought them popular success and the admiration of later critics for their focus on the body. This first book, critical of the existing monastic and educational system, contains the first known occurrence in French of the words encyclopédie, caballe, progrès and utopie among others. Despite the book's popularity, both it and the subsequent prequel book (1534) about the life and exploits of Pantagruel's father Gargantua were condemned by the "Sorbonne" in 1543 and the Roman Catholic Church in 1545.:111-115, 128-132 Rabelais taught medicine at Montpellier in 1534 and again in 1539. In 1537, Rabelais gave an anatomy lesson at Lyon's Hôtel-Dieu using the corpse of a hanged man;:xvii Etienne Dolet, with whom Rabelais was close at this time, wrote of these anatomy lessons in his Carmina.:247 In June 1543 Rabelais became a Master of Requests.
Between 1545 and 1547 François Rabelais lived in Metz, then a free imperial city and a republic, to escape the condemnation by the University of Paris. In 1547, he became curate of Saint-Christophe-du-Jambet in Maine and of Meudon near Paris, from which he resigned in January 1553 before his death in Paris in April 1553.:xx-xxi
With support from members of the prominent du Bellay family, Rabelais received approval from King Francis I to continue to publish his collection. However, after the king's death in 1547, the academic élite frowned upon Rabelais, and the French Parlement suspended the sale of his fourth book (Le Quart Livre) published in 1552.:xx
Rabelais traveled frequently to Rome with his friend and patient Cardinal Jean du Bellay, and lived for a short time in Turin (1540- ) as part of the household of du Bellay's brother, Guillaume. Rabelais also spent some time lying low, under periodic threat of being condemned of heresy depending upon the health of his various protectors. Only the protection of du Bellay saved Rabelais after the condemnation of his novel by the Sorbonne.:xix-xx
Gargantua and Pantagruel relates the adventures Gargantua and his son Pantagruel. The tales are adventurous and erudite, festive and gross, toxic ecumenical and rarely—if ever—solemn for long. The first book, chronologically, was Pantagruel and the Gargantua mentioned in the Prologue refers not to Rabelais' own work but to storybooks that were being sold at the Lyon fairs in the early 1530s.:297, 300 In the first chapter of the earliest book, Pantagruel's lineage is listed back 60 generations to a giant named Chalbroth. The narrator dismisses the skeptics of the time—who would have thought a giant far too large for Noah's Ark—stating that Hurtaly (the giant reigning during the flood and a great fan of soup) simply rode the Ark like a kid on a rocking horse, or like a fat Swiss guy on a cannon.:508-514 In the Prologue to Gargantua the narrator addresses : "Most illustrious drinkers, and you the most precious pox-ridden—for to you and you alone are my writings dedicated ..." before turning to Plato's Banquet.:50 An unprecedented syphilis epidemic had raged through Europe for over 30 years when the book was published, even the king of France was reputed to have been infected. Etion was the first giant in Pantagruel's list of ancestors to suffer from the disease.:510
Although most chapters are humorous, wildly fantastic and frequently absurd, a few relatively serious passages have become famous for expressing humanistic ideals of the time. In particular, the chapters on Gargantua's boyhood and Gargantua's paternal letter to Pantagruel:192-6 present a quite detailed vision of education.
In the first book, M. Alcofribas narrates the Abbey of Thélème, built by the giant Gargantua. It differs remarkably from the monastic norm, as the abbey is open to both monks and nuns, has a swimming pool, maid service, and no clocks in sight. Only the good-looking are permitted to enter.:268-9 The inscription on the gate to the abbey first sets out who is unwelcome: hypocrites, bigots, the pox-ridden, Gothz, Magothz, the straw-chewing law clerks, usurious grinches, old or officious judges, and burners of heretics.:272 When the members are defined positively, the text becomes more inviting:
Honour, praise, distraction
Herein lies subtraction
in the tuning up of joy.
To healthy bodies so employed
Do pass on this reaction:
Honour, praise, distraction:274
The Thélèmites in the abbey live according to a single rule: DO WHAT YOU WANT.
There aren't many speaking roles for women in the Rabelaisian adventures, not even in Le Tiers Livre where the recurrent theme is whether Panurge should marry or not. Pantagruel's mother, for example, dies in childbirth; Gargantua's mother (Gargamelle) fades from the story as soon as the newborn giant has climbed out her ear into life. This book was published under Rabelais' own name in 1546 and was also banned by the Sorbonne. It revisited discussions he had had while working as a secretary to Geoffroy d'Estissac earlier in Poitiers, where la querelle des femmes had been a lively subject of debate.:xix More recent exchanges with Marguerite de Navarre before she wrote the Heptameron led Rabelais to dedicate the book to her.
The French Renaissance was a time of linguistic contact and debate. The first book of French, rather than Latin, grammar was published in 1530, followed nine years later by the language's first dictionary. Spelling was far less codified back then. Rabelais, as an educated reader of the day, preferred etymological spelling which preserved words' histories to more phonetic spellings which would wash them away.
Rabelais' use of Latin, Greek, regional and dialectal terms, creative calquing, gloss, neologism and mis-translation was the fruit of the printing press having been invented less than a hundred years earlier. A doctor by trade, Rabelais was a prolific reader, and wrote a great deal about bodies and all they excrete or ingest. His works are filled with multilingual, often sexual, puns, absurd creatures, bawdy songs and lists. Words and metaphors from Rabelais abound in modern French and some words, as mentioned above, have even found their way into English, through Thomas Urquhart's 1693 translation.
Most scholars today agree that the French author wrote from a perspective of Christian humanism. This has not always been the case. Abel Lefranc, in his 1922 introduction to Pantagruel, depicted Rabelais as a militant anti-Christian atheist. M. A. Screech, like Lucien Febvre before him,:329-360 describes Rabelais as an Erasmian.
Rabelais was Roman Catholic. Timothy Hampton writes that "to a degree unequaled by the case of any other writer from the European Renaissance, the reception of Rabelais's work has involved dispute, critical disagreement, and ... scholarly wrangling ..." But at present, "whatever controversy still surrounds Rabelais studies can be found above all in the application of feminist theories to Rabelais criticism".
Citing Jean de La Bruyère, the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911 wrote of Rabelais as:
... a revolutionary who attacked all the past, Scholasticism, the monks; his religion is scarcely more than that of a spiritually-minded pagan. Less bold in political matters, he cared little for liberty; his ideal was a tyrant who loves peace. [...] His vocabulary is rich and picturesque, but licentious and filthy. In short, as La Bruyère says: "His book is a riddle which may be considered inexplicable. Where it is bad, it is beyond the worst; it has the charm of the rabble; where it is good it is excellent and exquisite; it may be the daintiest of dishes." As a whole it exercises a baneful influence.
Alfred Jarry performed, from memory, hymns of Rabelais at Symbolist Rachilde's Tuesday salons. Jarry worked for years on an unfinished libretto for an opera by Claude Terrasse based on Pantagruel.
Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian philosopher and critic, derived his concepts of the carnivalesque and grotesque body from the world of Rabelais. He points to the historical loss of communal spirit after the Medieval period and speaks of carnival laughter as an "expression of social consciousness".:92
Milan Kundera, in a 2007 article in The New Yorker, commented on a list of the most notable works of French literature, noting with surprise and indignation that Rabelais was placed behind Charles de Gaulle's war memoirs, and was denied the "aura of a founding figure! Yet in the eyes of nearly every great novelist of our time he is, along with Cervantes, the founder of an entire art, the art of the novel".
Making the beast with two backs is a euphemistic metaphor for two persons engaged in sexual intercourse. It refers to the situation in which a couple—in the missionary position, woman on top, on their sides, kneeling, or standing—cling to each other as if a single creature, with their backs to the outside.
In English, the expression dates back to at least William Shakespeare's Othello (Act 1, Scene 1, ll. 126-127):
The earliest known occurrence of the phrase is in Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel (c. 1532) as the phrase la bête à deux dos. Thomas Urquhart translated Gargantua and Pantagruel into English, which was published posthumously around 1693. Othello was written c. 1601–1603.Edward Lachman
Edward Lachman, A.S.C. (born March 31, 1948) is an American cinematographer and director. Lachman is mostly associated with the American independent film movement, and has served as director of photography on films by Todd Haynes (including Far from Heaven in 2002 and Carol in 2015, both of which earned Lachman Oscar nominations), Ulrich Seidl, Wim Wenders, Steven Soderbergh and Paul Schrader. His other work includes Werner Herzog's La Soufrière (1977), Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Sofia Coppola's directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides (1999), Robert Altman's last picture A Prairie Home Companion (2006), and Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime (2009). He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers.
In 1989, Lachman co-directed a segment of the anthology film Imagining America. In 2002, Lachman co-directed the controversial Ken Park with Larry Clark. In 2013, Lachman produced a series of videos in collaboration with French electronic duo Daft Punk, for the duo's album Random Access Memories.François Rabelais University
The University of Tours (French: Université de Tours), formally François Rabelais University (Université de François-Rabelais), is a public university in Tours, France. The university was formerly named after the French writer François Rabelais, and was founded in 1969. As of July 2015 it is a member of the regional university association Leonardo da Vinci consolidated University.Gargantua and Pantagruel
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 (; French: [ɡaʁɡɑ̃tya]) and his son Pantagruel (; French: [pɑ̃taɡʁyɛl]). 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.Harry Roselmack
Harry Roselmack, born 20 March 1973 in Tours, is a French radio and TV journalist of Martiniquan descent.Hugh Ray Easton
Hugh Ray Easton (1906–1965) was an English stained-glass artist.
Hugh Easton was born in London, son of Frank (a doctor) and Alice (née Howland). He studied in France and worked for the firm of Blacking in Surrey before setting up a studio in Cambridge. During the Second World War he served at the Ministry of Information with the rank of commander in the RNVR. Most of his windows were made in Harpenden at the studio of Robert Hendra and Geoffrey Harper. He and his associates worked on many windows for churches and other institutions after the war. A memorial service was held for him in Henry VII's chapel on 24 September 1965. He was the designer of a memorial window in the Battle of Britain Chapel in Westminster Abbey.Many of his windows contain his 'weathervane' signature, e.g. East window, South Aisle, St Mary the Virgin church, Burwell, Cambridgeshire. His workshop was in Cambridge.Jean Duvignaud
Jean Duvignaud (22 February 1921 – 17 February 2007) was a French novelist, sociologist and anthropologist. He was born in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, on February 22, 1921.
Duvignaud was a secondary school teacher first at Abbeville, then at Étampes (1947–1956), where he taught Georges Perec. After submitting his doctoral thesis, he taught at the University of Tours. In 1972, he founded the magazine Cause commune with Georges Perec and Paul Virilio. For a time he was in a relationship with Clara Malraux, the ex-wife of novelist André Malraux.language
He died (aged 85) in La Rochelle on February 17, 2007.Jean Germain (politician)
Jean Germain (11 September 1947 – 7 April 2015) was a French socialist politician.John Lesley
John Lesley (or Leslie) (29 September 1527 – 31 May 1596) was a Scottish Roman Catholic bishop and historian. His father was Gavin Lesley, rector of Kingussie, Badenoch.Joël Bruneau
Joël Bruneau (born 7 September 1963) is a French politician, mayor of Caen since 2014.Marie Jaisson
Marie Jaisson is a sociologist studying the sociology of medical practices and of biological phenomena. She is professor at the University of Tours (France) and affiliated to the Centre Maurice-Halbwachs (EHESS-ENS-CNRS, Paris, France).Mireval
Mireval is a commune in the Hérault department in Occitanie in southern France.
It is famous for its muscat wine, the Muscat de Mireval, about which François Rabelais wrote at the beginning of the 16th century.Panurge (opera)
Panurge is an opera (titled 'Haulte farce musicale') in three acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Georges Spitzmuller and Maurice Boukay, after Pantagruel by Rabelais. It was first performed at the Théâtre de la Gaîté in Paris on 25 April 1913, nearly a year after Massenet's death, one of three operas by the composer to have premiered posthumously, the others being Cléopâtre (1914) and Amadis (1922).Rabelais (disambiguation)
François Rabelais (circa 1494 – 1553) was a French Renaissance writer, doctor and humanist.
Rabelais may also refer to:
5666 Rabelais, a main-belt asteroid, named for French Renaissance writer François Rabelais
François Rabelais University, a public university in Tours, France, named for French Renaissance writer François Rabelais
Rabelais Student Media, a student newspaper at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, named for French Renaissance writer François RabelaisRabelais Student Media
Rabelais Student Media is a student newspaper at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, named after French Renaissance writer François Rabelais.
From its founding in 1967, Rabelais Student Media has been run as a department of the La Trobe University Student Representative Council (now the La Trobe Student Union). The paper is funded by a combination of advertising revenue and a student levy. Editors are elected annually and serve for a single year.
Rabelais has a notorious history in the Australian legal world. The July 1995 edition of the magazine published an article which allegedly incited readers to shoplift as a means of surviving student poverty. This edition was subsequently banned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification and the editors of the magazine charged with publishing, distributing and depositing an objectionable publication. In this instance an objectional publication was defined as one that allegedly incited criminal activity. The editors lodged an appeal, which led to a protracted four-year court case. The appeal was eventually defeated by the full bench of the Federal Court, who refused the editors application to appeal to the High Court of Australia. The criminal charges were dropped in March 1999. On campus, the paper is known for casting a critical eye over the actions of the Union and the University at large.
After many different formats and regime changes over the years, Rabelais is published monthly during the school year (March to November) and has a circulation of approx 9,000. This year (2011) the publication has adopted a more informal magazine style, while still keeping the format of a newspaper. There is more content about music, movies, books, student life and fashion.Rabelais and His World
Rabelais and His World (Russian: Творчество Франсуа Рабле и народная культура средневековья и Ренессанса, Tvorčestvo Fransua Rable i narodnaja kul'tura srednevekov'ja i Renessansa; 1965) is a scholarly work which is considered one of Mikhail Bakhtin's most important texts and now a classic of Renaissance studies. In the work Bakhtin explores Gargantua and Pantagruel by the French Renaissance writer François Rabelais.Bakhtin argues that for centuries Rabelais’s book has been misunderstood. Bakhtin attempts to redress this and clarify Rabelais's intentions through two methods: recovery of sections of Gargantua and Pantagruel that were previously either ignored or suppressed, and analysis of the Renaissance social system in order to discover the balance between language that was permitted and language that was not. Through this analysis, Bakhtin pinpoints two important subtexts: carnival (carnivalesque) which Bakhtin describes as a social institution, and 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. As written, Rabelais and His World not only examines the openness of Gargantua and Pantagruel, it also serves as an example of such openness.Renaud Machart
Renaud Machart (born 22 March 1962 in Lannion) is a French journalist, music critic, radio producer and music producer.Trois petites pièces montées
The Trois petites pièces montées (Three Little Stuffed Pieces) is a suite for small orchestra by Erik Satie, inspired by themes from the novel series Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais. It was premiered at the Comédie des Champs-Élysées in Paris on February 21, 1920, conducted by Vladimir Golschmann. Satie later arranged it for piano duet and today it is more frequently heard in this version. A typical performance lasts about five minutes.Éric de Chassey
Éric de Buretel de Chassey (born 1965, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.) is a French historian of French art, art critic, and professor of contemporary art history at François Rabelais University in Tours, France.
Born in the United States to French parents, Benoît de Buretel de Chassey (1941–2012) and Brit Michon du Marais (born 1943), he was raised in France. On 4 September 2009, he was named director of the French Academy in Rome, succeeding Frédéric Mitterrand. He has been married since 2013 to actress Anne Consigny.