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Gargantua and Pantagruel (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 26, 2006
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About the Author
Dr. M. A. Screech is a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of University College London; he long served on the committee of the Warburg Institute as Fielden Professor of French Language and Literature in London, until his election to All Souls in 1984. He is a Renaissance scholar of international renown. His books include Montaigne and Melancholy, as well as Rabelais and (on Erasmus) Ecstasy and the Praise of Folly; all are acknowledged to be classic studies in their fields.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
In general I liked the first two books more than the later books. They were a little more wild and inconsistent, but a lot more fun. Panurge was probably my favorite character in the first book; in the third book he was a key character, but by the last two books he was a somewhat annoying character.
A quick summary of the books is below. Pantagruel is the story of the birth and early life of the Giant Pantagruel, which was probably the most hilarious of the books. Gargantua is the story of the birth and life of Panagruel's father Gargantua; this was also quite funny covering several topics. The 3rd book of Pantagruel contains two main themes; the first is a discussion between Pantagruel and Panurge on debtors and borrowers. Panurge gives the funniest discourse on the need for debtors I have ever seen. The rest of the book tells of Panurge consulting every imaginable method of seeing the future to see if he should marry. The 4th book is basically a travel log similar to Gulliver's travels where Pantagruel and his friends go on a long sea trip finding many interesting lands. The 5th book is a continuation of the 4th book. Note that the 5th book is of questionable authorship.
As far as the translation goes, I was impressed; but note that this is the only translation I have read.Read more ›
However, this edition falls short in a large number of ways. First of all, it's presented as a big, fat, "scholarly" edition, with lots of footnotes, chapter summaries, and aids for the reader to contextualize the information. Not that there's any problem with that in itself - Rabelais is certainly one of those authors that requires at least some knowledge of his intellectual predecessors - but it really disturbs the general flow and feel of the book and places it in the context of being some old and stuffy book read as a "primary source" that can give us insight into 16th-century France than for its own sake. Given that this book essentially ridicules such "old and venerable" texts by means of obscene humor resembling that used by South Park in our modern culture, I really don't think this is the best way to present Rabelais. Also, the books are presented in the order they were written rather than in the traditional order of Gargantua first, then Pantagruel, then the books which are actually numbered. Again, this isn't in itself a problem, except that it disrupts the narrative flow if one wishes to read this book as a whole, starting with the exploits of Gargantua and then moving to the adventures had by his son.Read more ›
I first read this book in 1980 or 1981 when a roommate had a copy. I had already formed the intention of reading the classics. I was surprised at how zany and absurd the book was, and how filled with wild exaggeration and bathroom humor. Lacking a central story line, the book is a long series of heterogeneous episodes, and I found it a challenge to make it all the way through its 712 pages. But I did.
Now that I’m reading the Britannica Great Books of the Western World, the book again appears on my list, and because I didn’t remember much of it, I decided to read it again. Now more mature, educated, and patient, I was able to get more out of it, but I still found it to be a chewy read that took discipline to get through.
Gargantua and Pantagruel seem to have been figures of local legend that Rabelais (ca. 1492–1553) seized upon as heroes for his work. At their respective births (Pantagruel is Gargantua’s son) they are described as enormous giants of King Kong-like proportions, but in the rest of the narrative they seem to blend in more or less easily with their normal-sized human companions.
Gargantua is the king of a small realm in the south of France, and his upbringing and adventures are related with a special emphasis on his bodily functions—a persistent concern of Rabelais. For example, a chapter is devoted to describing all the things that Gargantua uses to wipe his bottom with. There is also a lot of attention to food and drink, and the consumption of these in huge quantities. The narrator often refers to his readers as his fellow boozers, and there is a strong sense that this is a book by, for, and about bon vivants.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I ordered this book for a college class when the book arrived it wasn't the same book. It is still a Gargantua and Pantagruel book but the ISBN number is different than what is... Read morePublished on January 30, 2014 by Megan Zoltowski
Classic comedy which is guaranteed to elicit from your lips a smile, and from your belly many a guffaw, Rabelais needs no laugh track. His stuff (five hundred years later! Read morePublished on November 19, 2013 by art owen
I have to agree with some other reviewers here: this is a disappointment and certainly no replacement for the excellent Cohen translation previously available in Penguin... Read morePublished on September 16, 2013 by Dr. John D
I definitely agree with Shadowgraphs: the Cohen translation/edition is far superior. The Screech colossus has scholarly value (to the point of vanity) but it gets in the way and... Read morePublished on June 23, 2013 by Ruk
Turn off brain. Tune in to the web from 1531 to 1564. Ah, an interesting site. Francois Rabelais, talking about Pantagruel and Gargantua.... What?! This IS different. Read morePublished on June 19, 2013 by william newmoon
A must read for those interested in knowing the undercurrents of cultural events while Rabelais was alive. Good sleuthing! Read morePublished on February 19, 2013 by Charles Jordan