Brodeau, and many other men of letters, while she protected Rabelais, E.
The sensuality which characterized the period appears in it, but in a less coarse form than in the great work of Rabelais; and there is 'a poetical spirit which, except in rare instances, is absent from Pantagruel.
A statue of Rabelais, who was born in the vicinity of the town, stands on the river-quay.
Symphorien Champier (Champerius or Campegius) of Lyons (1472-1539), a contemporary of Rabelais, and the patron of Servetus, wrote with fantastic enthusiasm on the superiority of the Greek to the Arabian physicians, and possibly did something to enlist in the same cause the two far greater men just mentioned.
Rabelais not only lectured on Galen and Hippocrates, but edited some works of the latter; and Michael Servetus (1511-1553), in a little tract Syruporum universa ratio, defended the practice of Galen as compared with that of the Arabians.
The inquisitor-general at Lyons, Matthieu Ory (the " Doribus " of Rabelais) took up the case on 12th March; Servetus was interrogated on 16th March, arrested on 4th April, and examined on the two following days.
These details of his education (which, like most else that is known about him, come from his own mouth) are not only interesting in themselves, but remind the reader how, not far from the same time, Rabelais, the other leading writer of French during the Renaissance, was exercising himself, though not being exercised, in plans of education almost as fantastic. At six years old Montaigne was sent to the college de Guienne at Bordeaux, then at the height of its reputation.
During this revolution only two writers of older date held their ground, and those two were Rabelais and Montaigne - Montaigne being of his nature more generally readable than Rabelais.
Rabelais, who died when Montaigne was still in early manhood, exhibits the earlier and rising spirit, though he needs to be completed on the poetical side.
The positiveness of the French disposition is already noticeable in Rabelais; it becomes more noticeable still in Montaigne.
In France it was necessary for a Rabelais to hide his free-thinking under a disguise of revolting and unintelligible jargon.
It is possible that the relations between the sexes - in this prototype of Rabelais's Abbey of Theleme - were not entirely what is termed Platonic. But there is on the other hand scarcely a doubt that the tales of licentiousness circulated by opponents are groundless.
The story (alluded to by Milton, Rabelais, Mrs Browning and Schiller) of the pilot Thamus, who, sailing near the island of Paxi in the time of Tiberius, was commanded by a mighty voice to proclaim that "Pan is dead," is found in Plutarch (De orac. defectu, 17).
It was the birthplace of Sir Thomas Urquhart, the translator of Rabelais.
It expressed itself at last in the monumental work of Don Quixote, which places Cervantes beside Rabelais, Ariosto and Shakespeare as one of the four supreme exponents of the Renaissance.
That, of course, is Rabelais.
What Ariosto is for Italy, Cervantes for Spain, Erasmus for Holland, Luther for Germany, Shakespeare for England, that is Rabelais for France.
FRANCOIS RABELAIS (c. 1490-1553), French humorist, was born at Chinon on the Vienne in the province of Touraine.
There is nothing in the positive facts of his life which would not suit tolerably well with any of these dates; most 17th-century authorities give the earliest, and this also accords best with the age of the eldest of the Du Bellay brothers, with whom Rabelais was (perhaps) at school.
In favour of the latest it is urged that, if Rabelais was born in 1483, he must have been forty-seven when he entered at Montpellier, and proportionately and unexpectedly old at other known periods of his life.
The only contribution which need be made here to the controversy is to point out that if Rabelais was born in 1483 he must have been an old man when he died, and that scarcely even tradition speaks of him as such.
In the year 1519, on the 5th of April, the Francois Rabelais of history emerges.
The monks of Fontenay le Comte bought some property (half an inn in the town), and among their signatures to the deed of purchase is that of Francois Rabelais.
The next certain intelligence which we have of Rabelais is somewhat more directly bio 1 See S.
The letters of the well-known Greek scholar Budaeus, two of which are addressed to Rabelais himself and several more to his friend and fellow-monk Pierre Amy, together with some notices by Andre Tiraqueau, a learned jurist, to whom Rabelais rather than his own learning has secured immortality, show beyond doubt what manner of life the future author of Gargantua led in his convent.
Some books and papers were seized as suspicious, then given back as innocent; but Rabelais was in all probability disgusted with the cloister - indeed his great work shows this beyond doubt.
an indult, licensing a change of order and of abode for Rabelais.
From a Franciscan he became a Benedictine, and from Fontenay he moved to Maillezais, of which Geoffroy d'Estissac was bishop. But even this learned and hospitable retreat did not apparently satisfy Rabelais.
At this time Lyons was the centre and to a great extent the headquarters of an unusually enlightened society, and indirectly it is clear that Rabelais became intimate with this society.
A manuscript distich, which was found in the Toulouse library, deals with the death of an infant named Theodule, whose country was Lyons and his father Rabelais, but we know nothing more about the matter.
What makes the Lyons sojourn of the greatest real importance is that at this time probably appeared the beginnings of the work which was to make Rabelais immortal.
There is no doubt that both Gargantua and Pantagruel were popular names of giants in the Middle Ages, though, curiously enough, no mention of the former in French literature much before Rabelais's time has been traced.
But there is no trace of the action or other characters of Gargantua that was to be, nor is the manner of the piece in the least worthy of Rabelais.
What does, however, seem probable is that the first book of Pantagruel (the second of the whole work) was composed with a definite view to this chap book and not to the existing first book of Gargantua, which was written afterwards, when Rabelais discovered the popularity of his work and felt that it ought to have some worthier starting-point than the Grandes chroniques.
This busy and interesting period of Rabelais's life was brought to a close apparently by his introduction or reintroduction to Jean du Bellay, who, in October 1J33, passing through Lyons on an embassy to Rome, engaged Rabelais as physician.
The visit did not last very long, but it left literary results in an edition of a description of Rome by Marliani, which Rabelais published in September 1534.
In the spring of 1535 the authorities of the Lyons hospital, considering that Rabelais had twice absented himself without leave, elected Pierre de Castel in his room; but the documents which exist do not seem to infer that any blame was thought due to him, and the appointment of his successor was once definitely postponed in case he should return.
At the end of 1535 Rabelais once more accompanied Jean du Bellay, now a cardinal, to Rome and stayed there till April in the next year.
This bull not only freed Rabelais from ecclesiastical censure, but gave him the right to return to the order of St Benedict when he chose, and to practise medicine.
Rabelais wrote a panegyrical memoir of Guillaume, which is lost, and the year before saw the publication of an edition of Gargantua and Pantagruel, book i., together (both had been repeatedly reprinted separately), in which some dangerous expressions were cut away.
Up to this time Rabelais, despite the condemnation of the Sorbonne referred to above, had experienced nothing like persecution or difficulty.
Even the spiteful or treacherous act of Dolet, who in 1542 reprinted the earlier form of the books which Rabelais had just slightly modified, seems to have done him no harm.
At Francis's death on 31st March 1 547 Du Bellay went to Rome, and at some time not certain Rabelais joined him.
In the same year a monk of Fontevrault, Gabriel du Puits-Herbault, made in a book called Theotimus the first of the many attacks on Rabelais.
Rabelais had indeed again made for himself protectors whom no clerical or Sorbonist jealousy could touch.
The Sciomachie was written to the cardinal of Guise, whose family were all-powerful at court, and Rabelais dedicated his next book to Odet de Chatillon, afterwards cardinal, a man of great influence.
Thus Rabelais was able to return to France, and in 1550 was presented to the livings of Meudon and St Christophe de Jambet.
It is said that Rabelais met and quarrelled with Joachim du Bellay the poet at Rome, and with Ronsard at Meudon and elsewhere, that this caused a breach between him and the Pleiade, that he satirized its classicizing tendencies in the episode of the Limousin scholar, and that Ronsard after his death avenged himself by a libellous epitaph.
There is indeed no reason to suppose that either Ronsard or Du Bellay was a fervent admirer of Rabelais, for they belonged to a very different literary school; but there is absolutely no evidence of any enmity between them, and Du Bellay actually refers to Rabelais with admiration.
Some chapters of Rabelais's fourth book had been published in 1548, but the whole did not appear till 1552.
Ten years after the publication of the fourth book and nine after the supposed date of the author's death there appeared at Lyons sixteen chapters entitled l&'le sonnante par maistre Francois Rabelais, and two years later the entire fifth book was printed as such.
But the strongest argument, and one which has never been attacked by authorities really competent to judge, is that the "griffe de l'aigle" is on the book, and that no known author of the time except Rabelais was capable of writing the passage about the Chats fourres, the better part of the history of Queen Whims (La Quinte) and her court, and the conclusion giving the Oracle of the Bottle.
Stein, un Rabelais apocryphe (1901), repeated and confirmed by M.
This war is described at great length, the chief hero of it being the monk, Friar John, a very unclerical cleric, in whom Rabelais greatly delights.
Picrochole defeated and peace made, Gargantua establishes the abbey of Thelema in another of Rabelais's most elaborate literary passages, where all the points most obnoxious to him in monastic life are indicated by the assignment of their exact opposites to this model convent.
Moroseness and dogmatism are as far from the Pantagruelism of Rabelais as maudlin sentimentality or dilettantism.
For a general estimate of Rabelais's literary character and influence the reader may be referred to the article French Literature.
There have been few more remarkable instances of the lues commentatoria than the work of the editors of Rabelais.
Almost every one appears to have started with a Rabelais ready made in his head, and to have, so to speak, read that Rabelais into the book.
But the first blunder, that of forming a general hypothetical conception of Rabelais and then adjusting interpretation of the work to it, is the commoner.
Fleury, Rabelais is a sober reformer, an apostle of earnest work, of sound education, of rational if not dogmatic religion, who wraps up his morals in a farcical envelope partly to make them go down with the vulgar and partly to shield himself from the consequences of his reforming zeal.
According to others, of whom we have had in England a distinguished example in Sir Walter Besant, Rabelais is all this but with a difference.
The religious part of the matter will be dealt with presently; but it is impossible to think that any unbiased judge reading Rabelais can hold the grave-philosopher view or the reckless-goodfellow view without modifications and allowances which practically deprive either of any value.
Those who, as it has been happily put, identify Rabelais with Pantagruel, strive in vain, on any view intellectually consistent or morally respectable, to account for the vast ocean of pure or impure laughter and foolery which surrounds the few solid islets of sense and reason and devotion.
Those who in the same way identify Rabelais with Panurge can never explain the education scheme, the solemn apparition of Gargantua among the farcical and fantastic variations on Panurge's wedding, and many other passages; while, on the other hand, those who insist on a definite propaganda of any kind must justify themselves by their own power of seeing things invisible to plain men.
No one reading Rabelais without parti pris, but with a good knowledge of the history and literature of his own times and the times which preceded him, can have much difficulty in appreciating his book.
In only two points can Rabelais be said to be definitely polemic. He certainly hated the monkish system in the debased form in which it existed in his time; he as certainly hated the brutish ignorance into which the earlier systems of education had suffered too many of their teachers and scholars to drop. At these two things he was never tired of striking, but elsewhere, even in the grim satire of the Chats fourres, he is the satirist proper rather than the reformer.
Rabelais is, in short, if he be read without prejudice, a humorist pure and simple, feeling often in earnest, thinking almost always in jest.
It is somewhat curious that some of those who claim Rabelais as an enemy of the supernatural in general have been the loudest to condemn this blemish, and that some of them have made the exceedingly lame excuse for him that it was a means of wrapping up his propaganda and keeping it and himself safe from the notice of the powers that were.
This is not complimentary to Rabelais, and, except in some very small degree, it is not likely to be true.
As for the extreme theory of the anti-Rabelaisians, that Rabelais was a "dirty old blackguard" who liked filth and wallowed in it from choice, that hardly needs comment.
In the first place, the comparative indecency of Rabelais has been much exaggerated by persons unfamiliar with early French literature.
The fabliaux, the early burlesque romances of the Audigier class, the farces of the t5th century, equal (the grotesque iteration and amplification which is the note of Gargantua and Pantagruel being allowed for, and sometimes without that allowance) the coarsest passages of Rabelais.
The general taste having been considerably refined since, Rabelais has in parts become nearly unreadable - the worst and most appropriate punishment for his faults.
Rabelais could not have written as he has written in this respect and in others if he had been an earnestly pious person, taking heed to every act and word, and studious equally not to offend and not to cause offence.
The last of these claims has now been very generally given up, and indeed Erasmus might quite as reasonably be claimed for the Reformation as Rabelais.
But Rabelais, in his own way, held off from the Reformation even more distinctly than Erasmus did.
But irreverences of this kind, as well as the frequent burlesque citations of the Bible, whether commendable or not, had been, were, have since been, and are common in writers whose orthodoxy is unquestioned; and it must be remembered that the later Middle Age, which in many respects Rabelais represents almost more than he does the Renaissance, was, with all its unquestioning faith, singularly reckless and, to our fancy, irreverent in its use of the sacred words and images, which were to it the most familiar of all images and words.
It is not, indeed, to be contended that Rabelais was a man with whom religion was in detail a constant thought, that he had a very tender conscience or a very scrupulous orthodoxy.
It is sufficient to say that there is absolutely nothing within the covers of Rabelais's works incompatible with an orthodoxy which would be recognized as sufficient by Christendom at large, leaving out of the question those points of doctrine and practice on which Christians differ.
The dates of the original editions of Rabelais's works have been given where possible already.
The next important date in the bibliography of Rabelais is 1823, in which year appeared the most elaborate edition of his work yet published, that of Esmangart and Johanneau (9 vols.), including for the first time the Songes Drolatiques, a spurious but early and not uninteresting collection of grotesque figure drawings illustrating Gargantua and Pantagruel, and the second edition of M.
Commentaries on Rabelais, independent of editions, have been numerous from the work of Jean Bernier, Jugement et nouvelles observations sur les ceuvres ...
Francois Rabelais (1697), onwards.
Noel, Rabelais (1850); A.
Mayrargues, Rabelais (1868); Jean Fleury (1876); Paul Stapfer (the best of all) (1889); and G.
Heulhard, Dernieres annees de Rabelais (1884), and others; while the Revue des etudes Rabelaisiennes (1903 onwards) contains valuable studies, especially those of M.
Rabelais was very early popular in England.
There are possible allusions to him in Shakespeare, and the current clerical notion of him is very unjustly adopted by Marston in the words "wicked Rabelais"; but Bacon described him better as the great jester of France, and a Scot, Sir Thomas Urquhart, translated the earlier books in 1653.
Criticism of a scattered kind on Rabelais in English is abundant, that of Coleridge being the most important, while the constant evidence of his influence in Southey's Doctor is also noteworthy.
But he was hardly treated as a whole before Sir Walter Besant's book on the subject in the "Foreign Classics for English Readers" (1879), which the author followed up with Readings from Rabelais (1883).
He had naturally read Lucian and Rabelais - possibly Crusoe and the Arabian Nights.
It was undertaken with the simple design of furnishing a preface to his younger son's translation of Shakespeare; a monument of perfect scholarship, of indefatigable devotion, and of literary genius, which eclipses even Urquhart's Rabelais - its only possible competitor; and to which the translator's father prefixed a brief and admirable note of introduction in the year after the publication of the volume which had grown under his hand into the bulk and the magnificence of an epic poem in prose.
Budaeus was his friend, Rabelais his faithful secretary and doctor; men of letters, like Etienne Dolet, and the poet Salmon Macrin, were indebted to him for assistance.
(Paris, 1905); marquis de la Jonquiere, Le Cardinal du Bellay (Alencon, 1887); Heulhard, Rabelais, ses voyages en Italie (Paris, 1891); Chamard, Joachim du Bellay (Lille, 1900); V.
Dr Ferriar, in his Illustrations of Sterne (published in 1798), pointed out several unacknowledged plagiarisms from Rabelais, Burton and others; but it is only fair to the critic to say that he was fully aware that they were only plagiarisms of material, and do not detract in the slightest from Sterne's reputation as one of the greatest of literary artists.
The opponents of the book rely (1) on the testimony of a certain Louis Guyon, who in 1604 declared that the fifth book was made long after Rabelais's death by an author whom he knew, and who was not a doctor, and on the assertion of the bibliographer Du Verdier, about the same time, that it was written by an "ecolier de Valence"; (2) on the fact that the anti-monastic and even anti-Catholic polemic is much more accentuated in it; (3) on the arguments that parts are apparently replicas or rough drafts of passages already appearing in the four earlier books; and (4) that some allusions are manifestly posterior to even the furthest date which can be assigned for the reputed author's decease.
On the other hand, it is urged that, though Guyon and Du Verdier were in a sense contemporaries, they wrote long after the events, and that the testimony of the former is vitiated, not merely by its extreme vagueness, but by the fact .that it occurs in a plaidoyer, tending to exculpate physicians from the charge of unorthodoxy; that Du Verdier in another place assigns the Pantagrueline Prognostication to this same unknown student of Valence, and had therefore probably confused and hearsay notions on the subject; that the rasher and fiercer tone, as well as the apparent repetitions, are sufficiently accounted for on the supposition that Rabelais never finally revised the book, which indeed dates show that he could not have done, as the fourth was not finally settled till just before his death; and that it is perfectly probable, and indeed almost certain, that it was prepared from his papers by another hand, which is responsible for the anachronous allusions above referred to.
Rabelais is the incarnation of the "esprit Gaulois," a jovial, careless soul, not destitute of common sense or even acute intellectual power, but first of all a good fellow, rather preferring a broad jest to a'fine-pointed one, and rollicking through life like a good-natured undergraduate.
The sayings attributed to Rabelais which colour the idea (such as the famous "Je vais chercher un grand peut-titre," said to have been uttered on his death-bed) are, as has been said, purely apocryphal.
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