The first few chapters are dedicated to getting to know the main character. His birth, childhood, teen years and moving to Paris are shown. The return to his country is marked by the liberation of the land that was under enemies reign.
The author shows us events that concern the main character and at first sight the novel seems to be a biography novel but when we look closer we can see that it misses an introduction, plot twist, and a denouement and that the author uses them randomly just so he could put some events in between them.
Besides, he also inserts sayings, parodies, and discussion into the plot. The plot of the novel is actually placed between stories and anecdotes.
The novel “Pantagruel” begins with a description of the Pantagruel’s family history and a whole list of his ancestors. We find out that his mother dies during his birth which is also described.
Then his childhood and upbringing are described. His educator and teacher Epistemon took care of him and his education.
After finishing his studies, Pantagruel goes to Paris where he met Panurge who tells him the story of his captivity in Turkey.
After that, Pantagruel is dragged into a court discussion. In the end, he turned out to be the arbiter because the international court council couldn’t reach a verdict.
After listening to both sides, Pantagruel made a meaningless verdict but everyone was satisfied with it.
The story jumps back to Panurge who starts to tell his life story. He talks about his captivity in Turkey and how he managed to free himself. He stays an important part of the story in the upcoming chapters. We even find out some of his suggestions such as building a wall around Paris.
Panurge also met Taumast, an English intellectual. They had a discussion about hands. Panurge then tried to seduce a Parisian lady but he wasn’t successful at it.
As time passed by Pantagruel led an interesting life in Paris and he had been spending his days having fun with Panruge until the news of his father’s death reached him. He also found out that Dipsodes made an attack on his Utopia, the place where he was born.
He decided to liberate his kingdom and his friends came to help. With the help of Panurge, Epistemon and Eusten he managed to defeat 660 soldiers. They only kept one alive to use him as their slave.
After a successful battle, they decided to throw a celebration. They’ve sent their prisoner to tell their enemies all about their victory. Pantagruel demanded that the king Anarche and his army surrender.
Pantagruel and his friends went on another quest. They caught their enemies and fought against giants. They defeated their leader Loup Garou who was in an alliance with the king Anarche.
Pantagruel, thanks to his bravery and quests, especially his battle with Dipsodes, had a celebration in his name in the town Amaurot.
After the ceremony, Pantagruel invited everyone to help him defeat once and for all defeat the Dipsodes.
They went to their kingdom and there they had to fight against Almirods. Before the attack itself, Pantagruel used his tongue to shield everyone from the sudden rain.
All of the sudden the storytellers enters Pantagruel’s insides. After 6 months, when he exits it, he tells that they managed to defeat Almirods and that he will give him a seigniory.
After that, we find out that Pantagruel’s illness resulted with the first spas in Italy and France.
In the end, the author gives us a hint about new books and adventures of Pantagruel.
The author dedicated a lot of space to language in this novel which is notable in the 6th chapter when Pantagruel encounters Limousin and in the 9th chapter when he meets Panurge for the first time and Panurge responds to him in 14 different languages.
From the 10th to the 13th chapter, a court discussion between Humevense and Baisecul is held. Baisecul’s sentences are grammatically correct but when they built an incoherent statement in the end. This can be understood as a parody of a court discussion.
From 18th to 19th chapter Panurge talks to the Englishman. Their discussion was special because they only communicated by their hands. The author used it to mock the banal discussion. He thought that even though discussions are long nothing is being said about them.
The author takes a lot of time saying sayings, stating names and book lists. In the first chapter, we have a full list of two and a half pages of all the Pantagruel’s ancestors. The 7th chapter has a six pages long book list from a library in Paris.
The author is prone to enumeration, piling of information which is visible in the 34 chapters of the book. He uses big numbers in some situations that have nothing to do with the same situations in the real world.
We can easily come to the conclusion that there is no plot in the novel. There is no introduction, plot twist or denouement. The writer did use them in his stories but he didn’t apply them to the novel as a whole.
The origins of the novel are connected to chivalry and folklore. The main character’s name is from folklore. The author made his name by merging the Greek “panta” which means “I want to say everything” and “gruel” which means “he wants to say thirsty”.
The author often uses grotesque for showing that dying goes hand in hand with the birth like destruction goes with creation.
Also, big amounts of food and beverage are mentioned in the novel so Pantagruel is said to have drank milk made by 4600 cows when he was a baby.
Rebelais often mentions feces and other excrements in his novel. In the 28th chapter, Pantagruel beat an army by urinating on them and in the 32nd chapter the spas in Italy and France were made out of his urine. The author believes that feces and excrements mean a new life.
François Rabelais Biography
François Rabelais was born in 1483 or 1484. His father was a rich landowner and lawyer in charge of some government duties. Somewhere around 1500 Rabelais enrolled to university where he studied law.
In 1510 he joined the Franciscans in a convent named La Baumette. Ten years after he became a monk in the convent Fontenay-le-Comte.
In the mid 20’s of the 16th century, he had some troubles with the administration of the convent and the church authorities so he went to Maillezais, a Benedictine convent, where he worked for some time as the secretary of the bishop Geoffroy d’Estissac.
By the end of the century, he decided to leave the convent and he went to study medicine, in 1532 he published “Pantagruel” under a pseudonym but the novel was forbidden a year later due to explicit content.
He had two children and decided to dedicate himself to his career in medicine. He works in south France and later he went to Lyon. Soon after he moved to Rome where he started working as the secretary of the cardinal Du Bellay. He moved with him to Ferrara.
While he was there he wrote “Gargantua” and it’s unsure whether the novel was published in 1534 or a year later. He went to Rome again with the bishop Geoffroy as his friend and protector. He asked Pope’s permission to join the Benedictines again.
In 1537 he finished his studies and became a doctor in the university in Montpellier. After that, he had another child and did not publish anything for 11 years.
After the death of his protectors, his works were forbidden again but despite everything he published a third book that was a sequel for the previous two. He was under the protection of the French king and he didn’t use a pseudonym. The third book was also forbidden.
Rabelais then decided to join the German Protestants and go to Metz.
In 1548 he went back to Rome to cardinal Du Bellay and in the meantime, he published “The Fourth Book” in Lyon. Four years later the king allowed the publication of that work.
He died in Paris in 1933.
Books published postmortem: a sequel to “The Fourth Book” and “The Fifth Book”.