Gargantua, Pantagruel, and Patience

At the risk of being called a prude, a troglodyte, or just-plain-ignoramus by one of the many omniscient intelligences prowling across the internet to belittle every typo made by a blogger, I want to come straight out and admit that of all the books of the Great Books of the Western World set this is the one I find least great. While I am aware of the significance and meaning of the work, the truth is it was difficult for me to maintain interest. At its best, Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel is a moderately funny and somewhat intriguing satire. For the most part, it is a continuous series of dick, fart, and ass jokes that outdo any Seth Rogen movie in obnoxiousness.

While this is not my first encounter with this work, it was my first time reading a significant portion of it all at once. Books I and II run to 126 pages in the 1954 set of the Great Books. And it required a great deal of perseverance and patience for me to make it through all 126 — but make it through all 126 I did indeed, though I can’t say I’m any bit the better for it.

Perhaps there’s something I’m missing here beyond its historical significance and I’m certainly open to correct and criticism, but I remain thoroughly unimpressed with this particular “great” book.

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One comment

  1. Rabelais was a deep scholar and an absolute free mind in every sense, a free mind living in his completely locked time . He was also and above all an alchemist, erudite in antique initiatic teachings . His books were his tools to secretly transmit alchemist knowledge to those who are able to catch it, and to mock the general passivity of human consciousness, able to believe and accept any scandalous consensus in politics and religion, which by his time was particularly obvious . But people have not changed, and Rabelais the free minded would write the same kind of books nowadays . He is extremely modern and quite unique in literature .

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