Francois Rabelais

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In existographies, Francois Rabelais (c.466-401 BE) (c.1489-1553 ACM) (IQ:170|#407) (ID:2.66|64) (Cattell 1000:121) (PR:705|65AE / writer:89) (Hugo 14:12) (FA:51) (CR:13) (LH:6) (TL:19), pronounced “rabble-a”, was French writer, physician, humanist, satirist, Greek scholar, aka “ape of Lucian”, “Democritus reborn” (Bellay, c.1550), “secular sage” (Hecht, 2004), known as an “aggressive atheist” (Abel Lefranc, c.1890), noted for his 1532 The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel (AB:21) tells the story of two giants who make fun of religion.


In c.1532, Rabelais published the first volume of his pentalogy The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel, wherein he tells the funny adventures of two giants, Gargantua and his son Pantagruel, full of “messy carousing, unceremonious sexual adventures, excretions, and general muck”, wherein many people make fun of priests, scripture, Church hierarchy and ritual.[1] Pantagruel's philosophy, called "Pantagruelism", is rooted in "a certain gaiety of mind pickled in the scorn of fortuitous things". This seems to be code for Epicureanism (see: fortuitous atoms).

In 1715 to 1723, Philippe II, an “avowed atheist”, and regent (ruler) of France, had the works of Rabelais, presumably his Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel, bound into his Bible so that he could read them privately during mass.[2]

In 1942, Lucien Fabvre, in his The Problem of Unbelief in the Sixteenth Century: the Religion of Rabelais, asserted nobody, Rabelais included, before Rene Descartes (c.1620), could have been “real atheist”, per reason that people labeled as atheists prior to Descartes were the result of historians “impressing modern values on the past”, and that the label “atheist” in these days was used a way to insult one another.[3]



Rabelais associated with Etienne Dolet (friend).


Rabelais influenced: Denis Diderot, Honore Balzac (student).


Quotes | On

The following are quotes on or related to Rabelais:

“Behind this very readable conversation, in Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew (1661), with the frolics and outrageous opinions of an exuberant personality, who is a great comic creation of Rabelaisian proportions, there is an extremely complicated and difficult work which raises questions not yet all clearly answered by the researches and criticism of generations of scholars.”
— Leonard Tancock (1964), “Introduction to Rameau’s Nephew (pg. 16) [4]
Rabelais has had his critical ups and downs through the centuries. In the seventeenth century in France, Rabelais was much reviled as the comic but somewhat raunchy humor of the Renaissance went out of style. La Bruyere called Rabelais' books monstrous, and Pierre Bayle had very little to say in his favor. A great exception to this trend is Moliere, whose plays share Rabelais' comic verve. In England, Rabelais was better received in the seventeenth century. It is very likely that Shakespeare knew Rabelais; the pedant Holofern, for example, in Love's Labor Lost is so close to Tubal Holophemes, Gargantua’s first tutor, in both name and character, that some common influence can be surmised. In a similar vein, Thomas Nash, another enemy of pedants and puritans, shares a prose style close to Rabelais', and Francis Bacon, one of the most important figures of the English seventeenth-century, called Rabelais ‘the great jester of France’. French writers of the eighteenth century were divided on Rabelais; Voltaire, who seems so close to Rabelais in so many ways, called Rabelais' novels extravagant and unintelligible. Denis Diderot, on the other hand, was effusive in his praise of Rabelais. Diderot, the author of Jacques the Fatalist, which is imbued with the spirit of Pantagruel and Gargantua, referred to Rabelais as the ‘sovereign pontife of the cup.’ In England, in the eighteenth century, once again, Rabelais was very popular. Laurence Sterne, the author of Tristram Shandy, venerated Rabelais, and Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift also contains many allusions to Rabelais. French writers of the nineteenth century were more favorably disposed to Rabelais, especially in the latter part of the century. It early in the century, the French critic Sainte-Beuve followed Bruyere's lead saying that reading Rabelais was akin to trying to cross a large rubbish-strewn square, later writers such as Victor Hugo, Honore Balzac, and Gustave Flaubert were great fans. Hugo called Rabelais one of the fourteen geniuses who had honored humanity, and Flaubert said that he, as Moliere had before him, kept Rabelais on his bedside table.”
— Michael Randall (2005), “Introduction to Gargantua and Pantagruel” (pg. xxvi)[5]

End matter


  1. Hecht, Jennifer. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (pg. 279). HarperOne.
  2. Blom, Philipp. (2010). A Wicked Company: Holbach’s Salon and the Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment (Amz) (pg. 9). McClelland, 2011.
  3. Febvre, Lucien. (1942). The Problem of Unbelief in the Sixteenth Century: the Religion of Rabelais (translator: Beatrice Gottlieb) (pg. xi). Harvard University Press, 1982.
  4. Diderot, Denis. (1661). Rameau’s Nephew (Le Neveu de Rameau); in: Rameau’s Nephew and Diderot’s Dream (§:15-130) (translator: Leonard Tancock). Penguin, 1964.
  5. Rabelais, Francois. (1532). Gargantua and Pantagruel (translator: Peter Motteux; introduction: Michael Randall) (pg. xxvi). Publisher.

External links

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