Review of François Rabelais’ Saga: Gargantua & Pantagruel

I know it’s been a while since the last review I posted a few months ago, but it’s because I started reading the saga of the five books of Gargantua and Pantagruel, that were published thru 1532 to 1564, written by the monk, physician and occultist François Rabelais. 

I first heard about this book on Éliphas Lévi’s novel the Sourcier of Meudon, which is like a biography of François, and since I found his life amusing, I decided to read his work having an slightly idea of what I was going found due to the few times the books are mentioned in Éliphas’ novel, but bruh! I was so wrong...

If I’d had to describe the 5 books of Gargantua and Pantagruel in a sentence it would be:

What the f*ck did I just read???!!!

Since this books are a crazy mixture of fiction, non fiction, comedy, fantasy, philosophy, fables, science, arts, occultism, economy,  religion, love, demonology and maybe other topics I didn’t even realize, as this books were so random and so dense that I’m sure they need to be re read several time to be able to get a full grasp of all the knowledge they contain. 

But, unfortunately, that’s not going to happen, because despite being very knowledgeable, it was really hard for me to read them, mostly because they are too old and they bored me, the style of writing it’s not catching, and although they are written with a comedy tone to make them more appalling, the dull format of the narration made them a challenge for me.

Therefore, reading this saga left me with a bittersweet sensation, because the story is good, all the knowledge hidden in between the lines, and sometimes directly, it’s amazing, and the philosophy and critics to the humanity which François exposed on his books were very clever, but they were so hard to read that it shades a little the good part. 

To talk a little about the plot of this books, well, they narrate the life of two giants, which are Gargantua and Pantagruel, the first book tell the story of Gargantua, and how he grew in Europe and was educated, and fought a war and stablished his own land. 

The second book, it’s focused on Pantagruel, who’s Gargantua’s son, and it follows the same plot of the first book, telling us how Pantagruel was educated, and he too fought a war, with Panurge and some other friends he made along the way. 

Now from the third book on, the story focus only on Pantagruel and his friends (Specially Panurge, who becomes a co-protagonist) the conversation he has with them, the clash of their philosophies, and a lot of moral lesson, about life, economy and love. 

So in the third book, they discuss the topics of debts and how to handle oneself economically and marriage, as Panurge brings the topic that he would like to get married but he was afraid of becoming a cuck if he did got married. (So apparently being or becoming a cuck it’s been a issue on society since the 1500s or before 🤣)

The four book now center around this idea of Panurge, and the gang decide to go look for advise from wise people and even witches, to predict wether or not Panurge was going to become a cuck if he decided to get marry. 

But not being satisfied with the all the answers and predictions he got along the way, they decide to travel the seas looking for the ultimate answer provided to them by a ‘Holy Bottle’, and that’s what the last book narrates. His sea adventures, and all the different places and island full they visit on this way to the ‘Holy Bottle’

So it’s a big, complex and rich saga that, in my opinion, everyone has to read and should be more famous and well known, because I think it can be compared to Dante’s Inferno, or Cervantes Don Quixote, But I think that the heavy symbolism and hidden knowledge it contains, make this saga to form part of the occult and secret books that are hard to find.

The good part, tho,  is that if you’d like to read them, you can find them and download all five books with illustrations for free on iBooks. 

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