Rabelais, François

François Rabelais, often acknowledged as France's, if not Europe's, greatest comic genius produced four volumes of mock-epic narrative over a period of 20 years, commencing with Pantagruel (1532), continued by its prequel Gargantua (1534/1535), the so-called Third Book of Pantagruel’s adventures (1546) and then a Fourth Book of the same, published in possibly incomplete form in 1552 shortly before his death. It is astonishing that he began his literary career so late (the earliest estimated date of birth is 1483), but his erudition reveals a profound awareness of contemporary intellectual trends, surely acquired during his many years of monastic study, while his provincial upbringing in the predominantly rural area of the Loire Valley clearly afforded him an acquaintance and sympathy with a peasant way of ...

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