François Rabelais

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François Rabelais (French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃swa ʁablɛ]) (c. 1494 – April 9, 1553) was a major French Renaissance writer, doctor and Renaissance humanist. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, and bawdy jokes and songs.

Contents

Biography

Although the place or date of his birth is not reliably documented, and some scholars put it as early as 1483,[1] it is probable that François Rabelais was born in November 1494 near Chinon, Indre-et-Loire, where his father worked as a lawyer.[2] La Devinière in Seuilly, Indre-et-Loire, is the name of the estate that claims to be the writer's birthplace and houses a Rabelais museum.

Later he left the monastery to study at the University of Poitiers and University of Montpellier. In 1532, he moved to Lyon, one of the intellectual centres of France, and not only practiced medicine but edited Latin works for the printer Sebastian Gryphius. As a doctor, he used his spare time to write and publish humorous pamphlets which were critical of established authority and stressed his own perception of individual liberty. His revolutionary works, although satirical, revealed an astute observer of the social and political events unfolding during the first half of the sixteenth century.

Using the pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier (an anagram of François Rabelais minus the cedilla on the c), in 1532 he published his first book, Pantagruel, that would be the start of his Gargantua series. In this book, Rabelais sings the praises of the wines from his hometown of Chinon through vivid descriptions of the eat, drink and be merry lifestyle of the main character, the giant Pantagruel and his friends. Despite the great popularity of his book, both it and his prequel book on the life of Pantagruel's father Gargantua were condemned by the academics at the Sorbonne for their unorthodox ideas and by the Roman Catholic Church for their derision of certain religious practices. Rabelais's third book, published under his own name, was also banned.

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