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    The Eclecticism of RabelaisAuthor(s): N. H. ClementSource: PMLA,Vol. 42, No. 2 (Jun., 1927), pp. 339-384Published by: ModernLanguage AssociationStable URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/457511.

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    XVIITHE ECLECTICISM OF RABELAIS*

    PART I. SURVEY1. INTRODUCTION

    A MONG the writers who express for all countries and timethethoughts, aspirations, and temper of their age isRabelais.' In hisday many fundamental questions were mooted.The sixteenth centurydebated ever and again these amongothers: the nature andimmortality of the soul, the eternityof the world, miracles, God,Nature, Providence, Destiny. Onall these questions Rabelaisexpressed himself, at times enig-matically, it is true, but in aform that has outlived the treatisesof the professionalphilosophers and theologians of the period,of a Pomponazzi, aVicomercato, a Cardan, a Bodin, and evena Calvin.A generation ofintensive study of Rabelais and his work hasbrought little progressin unraveling the fundamental problemshis romance presents. To somehe continues to be an enigma,2* The writer takes pleasure in makingacknowledgment of his indebtednessin the preparation of this paperto Mr. Archer Taylor, of the University ofChicago, and Mr. RichardT. Holbrook, of the University of California, whohave read it intheir editorial capacity and made many suggestions as to itsform,and to Mr. Louis Cons, of Princeton University, for suggestions astocontent, all of which have resulted in its material improvement.However, thewriter assumes entire responsibility for the opinionspresented in this investiga-tion on the religious and philosophicalviews of Rabelais.The italics used throughout this paper are thewriter's.Arthur Tilley, Francois Rabelais, 1907, p. 11: "He is theembodiment ofthe early French Renaissance in its earlier andfresher manifestations, in itsdevotion to humanism, in its restlessand many-sided curiosity, in its robustenthusiasm, in its belief inthe future of the human race."

    2 Emile fa*guet, Le Seizieme siecle, n.d., p. 77: "Les critiques,les professeursde litterature, les conf6renciers et les simplescauseurs ont toujours ete em-barrasses en presence de Rabelais etde son ceuvre. C'est une 6nigme." CharlesLenient, La Satire enFrance au seizieme siecle, 3d. ed. 1886, p. 62, presentsthetraditional views: "Les uns n'ont vu dans son ceuvre qu'unedebauche d'im-agination, un pele-mele confus de boufonneries et detrivialit6s, ofi brillent,ga et IA,a travers les fumees del'ivresse et les d6lires de la fantaisie, quelquesrares eclairs degenie, d'eloquence et de raison. Les autres, par espritd'opposi-tion ont pr6tendu trouver dans ce d6sordre meme un planhabilement congu,une combinaison ing6nieuse pour cacher laprofondeurde la pens6e et se deroberainsi aux poursuites de sesennemis."339

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    N. H. CLEMENTwhile others, who dismiss him too lightly, fail toexperience anydifficulty in plumbing the depths of his thought.3 Inrecentyears several attempts have been made to ascertain histruebeliefs,4 but none of these investigations has beensearchingenough. The purpose of the present study is to inquireoncemore into Rabelais' religious and philosophical opinions, andtoset forth his views on the questions justenumerated.Notwithstanding the words to the contrary of suchaneminent scholar and critic as Emile fa*guet,5 Rabelais is, andverylikely will continue to be, an enigma. The present inquiry,it maybe stated at the outset, undertakes little more than toshow theextent of Rabelais' participation in the ideas currentin his timein matters of philosophy and religion. It will showthat Rabelaisfelt an abiding interest in these questions, thathe discussed themfrequently, but it will not succeed in extract-ing from his workviews which can in all cases be attributedwith certainty to him ashis own, nor a formally and consistentlyformulated personaldoctrine and creed.

    fa*guet, ibid.: "Mais il n'est que de dire naivement, ffit-ce asa honte, ceque l'on pense, et je ne trouve nulle enigme, et sinonnulle profondeur, du moinsnul abtme, dans Rabelais."' JeanPlattard, Revue des Etudes Rabelaisiennes, VIII at p. 321, seesinRabelais a "Fabrician," i.e., a sympathizer with the moderateReformist viewsof Lefevre d'Etaples; Abel Lefranc, in Revue deFrance, May 1922, pp. 327 ff.argues he is a materialist. HenriBusson, in Les Sources et le developpementdurationalisme dans lalitterature rangaise de la Renaissance, (1533-1601), 1922,ascholarly and illuminating work which will frequently be quoted inthecourse of this study, examines his religious views, and thoughhis conclusionsare usually well-founded, his investigation is notsufficiently embracing. Notonly have many important passagesescaped his scrutiny, but he has nottouched upon the most importantproblem of all, Rabelais' notion of theDeity. A. F. Chappell's TheEnigma of Rabelais, 1924, in the writer's opinionleaves thequestion intact.s In the Prologue of Gargantua Rabelais says: "Caren icelle [the lectureof the book] bien aultre goust trouverez etdoctrine plus absconce, laquellevous revelera de treshaultzsacremens et mysteres horrificques, tant en ce quiconcere nostrereligion que aussi l'estat politicq et vie ceconomique." Accord-ingto fa*guet this is a mystification; Rabelais here is only laughingat hisreaders, and there is nothing abstruse in his book; it isonly an amusing story,written in his odd moments to divert himselfand his patients. His philosophyis merely the expression ofordinary common sense. It is neither original, norprofound, noreven very useful. Arthur Tilley, in Francois Rabelais, 1907,chap.11, combats fa*guet's view; see, however, the chapter "FollowNature"in his Studies in the French Renaissance, 1922.

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    THE ECLECTICISM OF RABELAIS

    At this juncture one may note special difficulties besettingthisinquiry which inhibit the cautious investigator from lightlymakingdogmatic assertions:First, after the publication of Pantagruel,Rabelais becamesuspect to the Sorbonne, the watchdog of orthodoxy,and forself-protection was put to the necessity in his subsequentBooksof concealing his views.6 To this must be attributed theob-scurity of numerous passages in his romance, which aredifficultand often impossible of interpretation.

    Second, his views do not appear whole and entire in any oneofhis five Books, but progressively develop through all ofthem,though the old that he has cast off is carried along side bysidewith the new.Third, like the men of the Renaissance, Rabelaisrevels inquotations and citations. He quotes and cites as much forthepleasure and amusem*nt he derives from these displaysoferudition as in order to buttress his own opinions. This isthe

    artistic and humanistic aspect of his genius. Accordingly,careneeds to be exercised in distinguishing the serious fromthemerely decorative, both in the opinions he expresses as hisownand in those he credits to his sources. In addition, Rabelais isalast representative of the esprit gaulois of the Middle Ages.Whenhe mingles buffoonery and obscenity with sacred thingsone must becautious in deciding whether his intent is primarilyto be derisive,or whether he is merely imitating the mediaevalwriters who readilymingled the grossest irreverence withorthodox beliefs.

    Fourth, it is difficult, not to say impossible, to decide howfarhe availed himself of the cloison etanche doctrine of thePaduanSchool: religion and philosophy possess distinct spheresabsolutelyindependent of each other, and propositions fromthe two spheresthat may appear mutually exclusive are per-fectly valid in theirproper spheres.7

    6 See Ernest Renan, Averroes et I'averroisme,3d. ed. 1866, pp.359 ff.7 See Renan, pp. 359-360. Though this opposition betweenfaith andphilosophy existed long before and after the PaduanSchool, the Paduansplaced a special emphasis on it. In thisopposition Renan sees only a subterfugeon the part of thefree-thinkers to excuse their daring in the sight of thetheo-logians. Others explain this double attitude on the groundthat the Paduansreally felt uncertain in the face of the two kindsof certainty, the philosophicaland the theological. See J. RogerCharbonnel, La Pensee italienne, 1919,

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    N. H. CLEMENT

    Fifth, as will appear in the course of this study, Rabelais isanEclectic. In him we find primarily an amalgam ofScepticism,Epicureanism, and Stoicism, with strains ofAristotelianism,Averroism, and Neoplatonism. It is not always easyto assigndefinitely to any specific school the philosophicdoctrines foundin such a fusion in Rabelais.8

    Sixth, the perennial question of the authenticity of theFifthBook arises here to disconcert the investigator. At thepresenttime a majority of the students of Rabelais are stronglyinclinedto accept, with certain qualifications, the ascription ofthisBook to Rabelais. The writer shares their view and theevidencefurnished by the Fifth Book will be embodied in thisstudy.9pp. 273-274. At p. 494 Charbonnel thus states the question:"La supremev6rit6 se confond avec Dieu. Mais il y a deux moyens del'atteindre, ou sil'on veut il y a deux aspects sous lesquels ilest 6galement legitime de la con-templer. La philosophie voit Dieudans la nature; la th6ologie le voit en dehorset au-dessus de cemonde. La philosophie part de l'immanence du divin, latheologie desa transcendance. Ce sont 1 deux methodes qui s'appliquentd uner6alit6: Dieu consider6 tant6t dans les manifestations de sonactivitequi vivifie et de sa providence qui conserve, tant6t dansl'unite absolue de sonessence qui echappe A toute definition et atoute figuration. I1 importe doncque la philosophie et la th6ologiese gardent d'empieter trop souvent sur leurdomaine respectif."8 Forthe syncretism of the doctrines of the ancient schools seeFrancoisPicavet, Esquisse d'une histoire generaleet compareedesphilosophies mnzditvales,2nd. ed., 1907, pp. 86-88.9 The writerwishes in the following note to restate with more precisiontheviews he expressed in his monograph, The Influence of theArthurian Romanceson the Five Books of Rabelais, 1926, pp.167-9.Arthur Tilley (Studies in the FrenchRenaissance, 1922)reviews the questionof "Rabelais and the Fifth Book" and reachesthe following chief conclusions:1) the whole of the Ile Sonnante(chapters 1-15) was written by Rabelais andhanded over to theprinter as he left it; 2) the rest of the Fifth Book is in themainRabelais' work, but in several of the chapters there areinterpolations,notably in chapters 18, 20, 26-28; 4) but though theFifth Book is in the mainby Rabelais, it clearly does not representhis final intentions; 5) some of thechapters (16, 31, and possibly18) he left unfinished; 6) other chapters he leftin the form of arough draft which he had not worked up into an artistic shape.Suchare chapters 11, 29, 30 and 35. Tilley might have included chapter9, themost baffling chapter in Rabelais.The present writer in alarge measure agrees with Tilley, but he wishes tosuggest thefollowing additions. He sees three distinct parts in the FifthBook:1) chapters 1-15, which are Rabelais' and untouched by hiscollaborator;2) chapters 30-43, which are distinctly Rabelaisian instyle and thought;3) chapters 16-29, which certainly do not exhibitRabelais' recognized style

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    THE ECLECTICISM OF RABELAIS

    The writer will, in the first part of this study, surveythequestion of Rabelais' religious and philosophical views as aandrepresent a gap, as it were, in his thought. Since all scholarsagree inattributing chapters 1-15 to Rabelais, nothing need here besaid about them.The writer believes chapters 30-43 also aresubstantially Rabelais' for thefollowing reasons: a) they dovetailperfectly with Books III and IV in thatthey bring to a well-roundedconclusion the Grail-quest idea foreshadowed inBook III anddeveloped in its initial aspects in Book IV; b) they show acon-sistent and logical development in Rabelais' religious andphilosophical viewsas they appear in Book III; c) in many minorrespects they cohere too wellwith the preceding Books to be thework of a continuator: chapters 30-31,the "Pays de Satin," areforeshadowed by the expression "pays de satin" ofIV, 8; chapters32-33 (including the one Moland prints as chapter 33 bis)areannounced by the expressions "c'est langaige lanternois" of II,9, the "paysLanternois" of IV, 5, and "a son retour de Lanternois"of IV, 8; the selection,in chapter 33 bis, of the "lantern"ofPierre Lamy, the friend of Rabelais' youth,"laquelle 'avoisautrefois cognue d bonnes enseignes," to conduct the questersto theoracle of the Holy Bottle is here of the greatest significance.Tilley'sdiscussion may be read for additional examples. Thereremain chapters 16-29,which, in the writer's opinion, are thereally problematic ones. As already said,they are obviouslydifferent from Rabelais' usual manner and show an interrup-tion inthe development of his thought. The second point, it is freelyconfessed,is of slight validity. Even the most careless reader,however, cannot fail tonotice the flatness and dullness of thesefourteen chapters. True enough, thereare flat and dull passages inother portions of Rabelais' work, but not extendingover fourteenconsecutive chapters. These chapters may be accounted foraccordingto two hypotheses: 1) they are a very rough draft byRabelais,perhaps with interpolations by a later hand,-Tilley'ssecond conclusion;2) they are by a later hand, but follow closely awell-marked plan by Rabelais.The writer believes such a planexisted. In IV, 1, the author says: "[Ils] firentle voyage de Indiesup6rieure en moins de quatre mois," a time limit which isstrictlyobserved. Pantagruel and his companions set sail on June 7, andonJuly 29, 1546,-fifty-two days later-the Council of Trent washeld,-inLantern-land, according to Rabelais. Of this council hesays, in IV, 5: "si lorsy arrivions (comme acile nous estoit)voyrions belle, honorable, et joyeuse com-pagnie des Lanternes."Finally in IV, 1, we learn that Xenomanes "avoit AGargantua, laisseet sign6, en sa grande et universelle hydrographie, la routequ'ilstiendroient. .... " (See the writer's discussion in The Influenceetc.,pp. 170-171.) These passages seem to indicate clearly enoughthat Rabelaiscomposed the last two Books-the journey to the HolyBottle-with a carefullydrawn plan before his eyes. All hiscollaborator needed to do was to amplifyhis rough indications. Thewriter is of the opinion that there was a collaborator,and heagrees with Mr. Louis Cons (Revue bleue, April 25, 1914) thatthiscollaborator may well have been Jean Quentin. According to thishypothesis,Rabelais composed the first and the last of the threeparts of Book V first andthe middle part was to be put indefinitive shape subsequently. Of course, thisis a practice notunknown among writers.

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    N. H. CLEMENT

    whole, and bring into the foreground the many problemsitpresents; in the second part he will set forth theprincipalreligious and philosophical controversies of thesixteenthcentury, and attempt to fix Rabelais' position on theissues sowarmly discussed in his day.

    2. RABELAIS'BACKGROUNDTwo major currents of thought arediscernible in the Renais-sance:First, a reaction againstecclesiastical authority in thoughtand against asceticism in life.This reaction was synchronouswith the growth and spread of humanismand the "return tonature" movement which it sponsored;Second, aneffort to harmonize the philosophy of the ancientswith Christiandoctrines, to show that the two were not in-

    compatible, but on the contrary that the teachings ofChristi-anity were buttressed by the philosophy of the GreeksandRomans.l0These new impulses penetrated into France from Italy inthewake of the literary and artistic Renaissance. Soon after1530the revival of philosophic thought was under way in France,andby 1540 all the great schools of the Ethical Period ofGreekphilosophy numbered adherents. Peripateticism, thetraditionalschool, continued to maintain itself, but largely in theformgiven it by the Paduan School" and its leader Pomponazzi,10Themost successful of these attempts was the one that sought toreconcile

    Christianity and the moral doctrines of the Stoics, especiallyof Seneca. Thiswas the task that Justus Lipsius, especially, andGuillaume Du Vair set them-selves to in the second half of thesixteenth century. See Leontine Zanta,La Renaissance du stoicismeau seiziemesicle, 1914. The Stoic doctrine of self-government wasinvolved in this connection and eventually led to a layasdistinguished from a Church morality.11Opinion is divided as towhen the rationalistic ideas of the Paduan Schoolfirst began topenetrate into France. Emile Besch wants to set the date as lateas1550. He says (Revue du Seizieme Siecle, VI, at p. 28):"L'humanisme envulgarisant la litt6rature et la philosophie antiqueavait donn6 [about 1550]aux intelligences d'elite une certainetoumure qui les inclinait au rationalisme."Busson, Introduction, p.xiv, wants to put the date back to 1533: "Dans lesdix annees quisuivent 1533, les disciples des philosophes de Padoue etlesItaliens eux-memes apportent en France les idees rationalistes.Pourtant cesidees ne sont pas encore tr/s repandues, puisque niRabelais dans ses deuxpremiers livres, ni Des Periers dans leCymbalumne semblent les connaitre."

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    complexion of the rationalism of the sixteenth century.18Thisspecies of rationalism has two aspects: (a) it isphilosophicalwhen it goes beyond the limits of experience in orderto graspat the truth lying beyond; (b) it is practical when itlimits itselfto the known facts of existence.l9 These two formswill in theseventeenth century be known respectively as the raisonofDescartes and the bon sens of Boileau.

    The Peripateticism of the Paduans found a powerful auxiliaryinits struggle against the old scholastic philosophy in the"naturephilosophy" of the Epicureans and the Stoics. Theteachings of St.Augustine, with his theory of human depravity,had colored the lifeand the thought of the Middle Ages anddeeply impressed them withthe idea of the sinfulness of man.The future life and personalsalvation became as a result thefirst concerns of the men ofmedieval times (cf. the DivineComedy). The "return to nature"movement resulted in ashift of emphasis from the future to thepresent life.

    18There are many varieties of rationalism, but in its widestsense-the onein the text above-rationalism is any system of thoughtwhich uses reason inthe search after truth. For an exposition ofrationalism in all its nuances, seeL. Olle-Laprune, La Raison et lerationalisme, 1906, pp. 164-179. Lecky, TheRise etc., Introduction,p. xix, defines it as "a certain cast of thought, orb iasofreasoning, which.... leads men on all occasions to subordinatedogmatictheology to the dictates of reason and of conscience, and,as a necessary conse-quence, greatly to restrict its influence uponlife. It predisposes men, in history,to attribute all kinds ofphenomena to natural rather than miraculous causes;in theology, toesteem succeeding systems the expressions of the wantsandaspirations of that religious sentiment which is implanted inall men; and inethics to regard as duties only those whichconscience reveals to be such."Olle-Laprune, p. 178, says that allforms of rationalism may be defined as thedoctrine whereby one seesin man only reason, and in reason only man. Thesecond part of thisdefinition amounts to saying that rationalism avoidsthetranscendental. Busson, p. xi, note 1, wishes to qualify thisdefinition. He says:"II y a un rationalisme orthodoxe, puisquel'Eglise reconnait le r6le de la raisondans la genese de l'acte defoi: l'heresie contraire est le fideisme .... Maisl'Eglisereconnait que certains de ses dogmes sont indemontrables. C'estetrerationaliste que de vouloir les prouver par la raison, mais avecl'intentionde les defendre, comme l'a pr6tendu toute une 6cole(Nicholas de Cusa, Ray-mond de Sebonde et Postel). Cette forme durationalisme est aussi h6r6tique."Busson defines true rationalismas: "la pr6tention de juger, et non plus deprouver, tous les faitsreligieux a la mesure de la seule raison et de ne croire queceuxqui r6sisteront a ce contr6le." This is the meaning now current.19Zanta, p. 76.

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    N. H. CLEMENTZeno's doctrine of "life according to Nature,"though shared

    by the Epicureans, was chiefly associated with the Stoicsect.The doctrine was interpreted to include both universalnatureand the nature peculiar to each individual. In thisdoubleaspect it was taken over by the Roman Eclectics(Cicero,Seneca) and transmitted through them to theRenaissance,when it played an important role in the development ofhuman-ism. By the beginning of the sixteenth century thedoctrinehad become generally current and is frequently foundopposedto Christian ascetic teachings.20Rabelais with his robustenthusiasm and his optimistic viewboth of individual and universalnature was eminently fitted toexalt into a position of newimportance the doctrine of "follownature." He accomplished this forindividual nature in hisfirst two Books, but chiefly in his Thelemewhere it is enthroned;in the apologue of Physis and Antiphysie (IV,32), and ingeneral in the last threeBooks, he apotheosizesuniversal Nature,which he celebrates, in III, 8, as the beneficentcreator andsustainer of all living things.

    3. RABELAIS' LIFE AND WORKSIn tracing the evolution of Rabelais'thought a threefolddivision must be made in his life: (1) theperiod up to the endof 1534; (2) an interlude extending over elevenyears, up to1545; (3) the final period of maturity, from 1545 tohis death

    in 1553. In the first period Pantagruel (1532) andGargantua(1534) appeared; the second period is unmarked by anyliteraryactivity, properly so called; the third is the period ofthe Third,Fourth, and Fifth Books.In the first period Rabelais isstill a Christian, but with strongfrondeur tendencies. In hismiddle period he made severaljourneys to Italy, where he possiblybecame acquainted withthe doctrines of the Paduan School, and inFrance he came incontact with its representatives, who were, ineffect, librespenseurs. In these years he consorted with thelibertin groupof Lyons, which was constituted soon after 1530 andwas com-posed of Maurice Sceve, Dolet, and Fournier, and withtheBordeaux group which is known to have been in existence by

    20 See Tilley, Studies in the French Renaissance, pp.233-237.

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    THE ECLECTICISMOF RABELAIS1540 and was made up of Briand Valle,du Ferron, R. Breton,and Buchanan.21 Though Rabelais was onlyslightly influencedby the Paduan doctrines, it seems evident thatfrom these con-tacts, especially with Dolet in Lyons, his beliefs,then in flux,ultimately turned from Christianity in the directionof eclecti-cism tinctured with scepticism. In his third period hisviewsreached their maturity. The fundamental scepticism ofhisnature, which underlies, permeates, and conditions all hiswork,attained its full development, his opinions apparentlycrystal-lized, and we can in a measure ascertain his attitude withrespectto most of the transcendental questions discussed inthosetimes.22

    Turning now to Rabelais' writings, we find an almosttotalabsence of philosophical preoccupations in his first, orChristian,period. In the first two Books he still accepts thetheologicalview of the world. In Pantagruel he is still a Catholicthoughwith liberal tendencies; his convictions sit lightly on him.Hewill turn his back upon them as soon as an alternativecreedpresents itself, which shall be less superstitious, lesscorrupt,and shall promise more liberty to the individual. In thisBookhe censures chiefly the institution of monasticism, possiblyonaccount of his recent unfortunate experiences with hisbrothermonks; he aims satirical shafts at the Sorbonne; he hazardsafew irreverent remarks concerning the Scriptures and JesusChrist,which will be expunged in the 1542 edition. However,in theseremarks, we may see a reflection of the freedom of thetimes insacred matters equally with the expression of a critical,scepticaltemper.

    Gargantua marks a step in the evolution of the author'sbeliefs.He clearly shows Reformist leanings, chapter 54 beingthe high-watermark of his interest in the new religious move-ment. What waspreviously, at most, a dislike of the Sorbonne,becomes a hatred,this guardian of orthodoxy having incurred21 See Busson, pp. 65,72, 92, 119-120, and Part I, chaps. 2, 3, on the influenceofPomponazzi, the leader of the Paduan School.22 It must not bethought that Rabelais was as much of an enigma to his

    contemporaries as he is to us. Many passages which today remainobscureseem to have been perfectly well understood at the time hewrote them. Inthis connection the reader is referred to Lefranc'sarticle in theRevuedeFrance,May, 1922.

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    both the Church and the Reformation, and even Christianityinthese Books appears highly attenuated. The groundwork ofhis beliefseems to be a pantheism based very largely on Stoicismbut admittingstrains of Neoplatonism and Averroism. InBook III he adopts theStoic view of the world and identifiesNature and God; in Book V hisStoical bias is more pronounced,he seems to have revised hisearlier views on immortality, thetraditional conception of God isentirely obliterated and hisrole effaced. The Fifth is the mostdaring of his Books, and theone from which, in spite of its manyobscurities, the clearestidea of his ultimate beliefs may begathered.5The interpolation seems to be a derisive allusion to theviews of Calvin onpredestination. There is no doubt that Rabelaiswas disappointed in theReformation. He saw one despotism trying todestroy and supplant another,and we may conclude that the violenceand intolerance of Calvin cooled anyinterest he might have felt inthe Protestant cause and made him willing tocompromise with his oldenemies in the Sorbonne.

    In the prologues of Book IV Rabelais defends himself against thecharge ofheresy levelled at him on account of the substitutionthree times of the wordasne for amein 111,22, 23. In his efforts todisculpate himself from the dangerousaccusation he makes a formaldeclaration of faith. In the Prologue de l'autheur,he says: "Telest le vouloir du tresbon, tresgrand Dieu, on quel jeacquiesce,auquel je obtempere, duquel je revere la sacrosaincteparole de bonnes nouvelles,c'est l'Evangile .... " He is so carefulnot to give offence and to place himselfabove suspicion that inBook IV we can discern no signs of progress in histhought; on thecontrary, he professes beliefs which he did not really entertain,asBook V clearly shows.25 Rabelais calls his philosophyPantagruelisme. He gives four differingdefinitions ofPantagruelisme, which roughly mark the different stages intheevolution of his beliefs. His definitions, which are grotesqueat the outset,attain dignity in his later Books. In Pantagruel 34his definition is: "vivre enpaix, joye, sante, faisans toujoursgrand chere." In the Pantagrueline Pro-nostication, (1532) chap. 6,the English, the Scotch, and the Easterlings arecalled "assezmauvais pantagruelistes" because they drink beer instead of wine.InGargantua1 it is: "beuvans a gr6 et lisans les gestes horrificquesde Panta-gruel." These definitions are conceived obviously in thespirit of Epicureanism.The years between Gargantuaand the Tierslivre have brought disillusionmentand tribulations to him, as wemay gather from the Prologue of Book III:"Prins ce choys etelection, ay pens6 ne faire exercice inutile et importun sijeremuois mon tonneau diogenic, qui seul m'est rest6 du naufragefaict par lepasse on Far de Mal'encontre." The melancholy of thesewords becomes trans-lated in a more serious attitude henceforthtowards life, and this attitude isthat of Stoicism. In the sameprologue he gives a new definition of Panta-gruelisme; it is: "unepropriete individuelle .... moyennant laquelle jamais

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    4. RABELAIS' SCEPTICISMThe most obvious trait in Rabelais'intellectual temper is his

    scepticism. However, he did not travel in this path all thewayto atheism on the one hand, nor to Pyrrhonism on the other;hisscepticism is of the kind that prompts men to test everythingin thelight of reason and experience and entirely to rejectauthority andfaith. In a word, it is a form of rationalism, andit may beasserted confidently that Rabelais stands with thevery firstrationalists of modern times.

    Rabelais' genius is positive, scientific, and realistic. He hasapredilection for facts, which he classifies and marshals inarraywhen he wishes to emphasize a point.26 He has the system-atic typeof mind.27 He is inquiring28 and he likes to test andcompare. Theseintellectual qualities, when exercised in thedomain of religion, orscience, or ethics, could not fail to piercethrough the maze ofsuperstition and unfounded tradition thatfettered the hearts andminds of men from antiquity until aboutthe middle of theseventeenth century. Knowledge begins withdoubt, Descartes was tosay a century later, and to this mightbe added that the more oneknows the less one believes. BeforeDescartes, Rabelais hadproceeded in that sense; he tells us inen maulvaisepartieneprendrontchosesquelconques."In III, 37, Rabelaislinks with thisdefinition he Stoic idea of the Wise Man. He has triumphedoverthepassions hat bringsufferingo humanity,and hehas learntthe lessonofwisdom. It is: "se oubliersoy mesme,issirhorsde soymesme,vuidersessensde toute terrienne ffection,purger onespritdetoutehumaine ollicitude,et mettretout en non chaloir."ThePantagruelf this newphilosophy,he tellsus in III, 51, "aeste l'id6e etexemplairede toute joyeuseperfection."And,finally,he essays in theProloguede l'autheurof Book IV a lastdefinition:"Pantagruelisme,ous entendez,que c'est unecertainegayeted'espritconficteen mesprisdes choses fortuites". Herewe have what fa*guet calls "la finefleur de Pantagruelisme" (LaFontaine, 1913, p. 308).26 Examples may be found in I, 3, where hecites eleven authorities in supportof his statement of the elevenmonths' period of gestation of Gargantua; inI, 7, where he mentionsseven cases of extraordinary births analogous withGargantua's.

    27 This is seen in the long lists of the forms of divination, ofgames, foods,etc. found in I, 22; III, 25, 26, 28, 38; IV, 17, 22,30-32, 37, 40, 59, 60, 64; V,33; in the long parades of reconditelearning to be found on almost every pageof his romance.

    28 See his letter from Italy to Geoffroy d'Estissac (Moland, p.616) and theseeds he sends the bishop.

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    effect that everything must be subjected to rational andem-pirical tests; and in his work we see doubt applied on themostextensive scale to the current traditional beliefs.Rabelais'scepticism envelops everything established byauthority, imposed byfaith, and given currency by tradition.He assumed an attitude ofmental detachment in all mattersand thus was enabled to survey themwith a critical eye. Thetests he applies are reason and experience,which he substitutesfor credulity in all religious, scientific,social, and politicalquestions. When this test has not beenapplied, either throughlack of opportunity, or because the materiallies beyond thereach of reason or personal experience andobservation, hisattitude remains one of suspended judgment.29 Inillustration,to those who would anthropomorphize God he administersthisrebuke: "Et de qui estez vous apprins ainsi discourir etparlerde la puissance et predestination de Dieu, paouvresgens?Paix.... humiliez vous devant sa sacree face, etrecoignoissezvos imperfections."30It is especially in empiricalquestions that Rabelais' scepticismis most patent. He refuses toaccept the extraordinary on anyauthority.31 For instance, herelegates to the Country of Satin-a non-existent land-all exoticanimals still unknown in Francein his day, where he places themside by side with imaginaryanimals believed in at that time. Nextto the Country of Satinhe situates Lantern-land, which apparentlysymbolizes thechoice spirits, past and present, of the humanrace.32The writersees in this juxtaposition a concealed meaning:Rabelais' ad-herence to the doctrine of probability of theSceptics. In effecthe says that in our inability to find surecriteria we must acceptas probable the judgments of the choicespirits of mankind,

    29 See the articles of Lazare Sainean on natural history inRabelais in theRSS, and the writer's The Influence, etc. chap. 6,for his sceptical attitude inmatters of science; on his scepticismin political matters see Tilley, FrancoisRabelais, 1907, p. 325,where his views on the state and kingship are discussed.30 Prologuede l'autheur, Book IV. For a similar thought see Pascal, Penske242,Brunschwicg edition.

    31 For typical cases see III, 27, where he asks that "true andnatural" thingsbe believed; the Country of Satin, V, 30-31;Epistemon's descent to Hell, II,30, where he imitates one of themost telling shafts of irony of Lucian.32 But see Abel Lefranc'sdiscussion in Bull. Soc. d'hist. mod., 1901, no. 3,"L'histoire dumythe des Lanternes dans Rabelais,"

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    testing them, however, as far as possible, by our own reasonandexperience; this is the meaning of the Trinc of the HolyBottle(V, 45), to whose oracle the questers are conducted bythe"lantern" of his old friend of monastic days, Pierre Lamy,hisfirst initiator in the humanities, at that time alreadydead.This aspect of Rabelais' genius can best be brought out byacomparison between him and the professional scientists of hisage,the most illustrious of whom even in the second half ofthesixteenth century were still under the spell of Antiquity.In commonwith all their less learned contemporaries, the menwho were openingup new vistas of knowledge implicitly believedthe scientificlegends and the marvelous stories handed downby tradition, fromwhich natural science was to liberate itselfonly in the followingcentury. In contrast with them the human-ist Rabelais is almost thefirst among the moderns to adopt asceptical attitude with regard tothis pseudo-science. In thisrespect he stands virtually alone amongthe philosophers,theologians, statesmen, artists, and humanists ofthe sixteenthcentury, who suffered extraordinary lapses intocredulity.33Considerations of space limit us to a singleillustration.Ambroise Pare, the great physician of his time, offersa strikingexample of this credulity. Rabelais about the year 1550placedthe unicorn and the remora among the imaginary animals inhisCountry of Satin. In 1582 Pare wrote his Discours de lalicorne,3 inwhich he affirms his belief in this legendary animalon theauthority of the Bible If he wrote this Discours it wasnot to denythe existence of the fabulous animal, but to combatthe deep-rootedbelief in the efficacy of its horn as an antidotefor poisons.Further, in the Appendice au livre des monstres,vol. III, Pareaccepts without question, as did Montaigne,stories about thesupernatural powers of the remora, a littlefish credited with theability to stop a ship in its course. It is

    33 EmileGebhart,Rabelais,a renaissancet a reforme, 895,p.103,observesthat Machiavelliand Cellinifirmlybelievedin theinfluenceof the stars onhuman destiny, while Rabelaissatirizesthissuperstition. In Essay II, 12,ApologiedeRaymondeSebonde,whichmarksthe culmination f Montaigne'sPyrrhonism,eshowshimselfdevoidof allcritical ense,andpretends o acceptthe mostpuerilestorieson the authorityof theancients.34AmbroisePar6,(Euvres ompletes,d. Malgaigne,1840,3 vols.,I, cclxxxix,andIII, chap.14.

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    to be noted that virtually all the "monsters" enumerated byPar6are the "monsters" of ancient tradition. He hasnothingextraordinary to relate regarding the animals of the newworld(though they are inaccurately described in his works)becausesupersitition has not yet had a chance to attributefabulousqualities to them.35The reader is now in a better positionto judge of the contrastpresented by the scientists of thesixteenth century and Rabe-lais, the sceptic. If Rabelais doesrecount marvelous storiesabout animals and plants it is because hisbook is a romanceand because magic and the marvelous are anessential part ofthe romance. However, he clearly enough indicateshis ownattitude towards the marvels he relates by situating theminnon-existent countries; in addition, he gives us specificwarnings.Many of his marvelous animals and plants are drawnfromPliny and Elianus; he tells us of the former "je ne suispoinctmenteur tant asseure comme il a este" (I, 6), and the latterhecalls a "tiercelet de menterie" (V, 30). He frequentlyexpresseshis scepticism in specific connections: "J'y [in theCountry ofSatin] vis un cameleon tel que le descrit Aristoteles . .. . et nevivait que d'air non plus que l'aultre" (V, 30), andconcerningthe aphrodisiac qualities of the herb called Targon:"Ne

    5 For a most instructive contrast the reader is referred to theCosmographieof Jean-Alfonse de Saintonge, Rabelais' contemporary,the most widely travelledsailor of his day, if we are to believehim. The Cosmographie,which was pub-lished in 1559 under the nameof Voyagesaventureuxdu capitaine Jean-AlfonseSainctongeois, is thestrangest medley of fable and fact. It was republished in1904 withannotations by Georges Musset. Lazare Sain6an, RER, X, 1-67,showsthat Jean-Alfonse's book is largely plagiarized from the Suma degeografiaof Fernandez de Enciso, which had been published in 1519,1530, and 1546.Speaking of the times of transition in whichJean-Alfonse wrote his book,Pierre Margry, in LesNavigationsfranpaises et la revolutionmaritime du XIVeau XVIcsiecle, 1867, says, p. 231: "Les hommes de cette 6poque, paruneconsequence de leur position sur la frontiere qui separe lesdeux &ges, etaientcondamn6s a subir en eux-memes une lutted'influences diverses d'oi la veritene pouvait se degager qu'enpartie. Momentanement l'esprit de l'antiquitereveille parl'imprimerie, l'esprit feodal impos6 par la coutume, lesidsesreligieuses, dans lesquelles la superstition se confondaitsouvent avec la foi,tous ces 6elments du passe se heurtant contrel'experience r6cente, le d6sirdu savoir et les aspirations vers unetat meilleur, devaient produire alors une6trange confusion m6medans les tetes les mieux organisees, qui se ressentaientforc6mentde ce combat du present et de l'avenir."

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    m'alleguez point l'Indian tant celebre par Theophraste, PlineetAtheneus, lequel avec l'aide de certaine herbe le faisait enun joursoixante et dix fois et plus. Je n'en crois rien" (III, 27).Whenmen like Ambroise Pare uncritically accepted the pseudo-science ofthe past and without discrimination placed it on thesame plane withwhat the science of their time had unequivo-cally established, theyshowed themselves to be the childrenof their age. When Rabelaisscoffingly refused to accept thispseudo-science as genuine heexhibited a temper closely akinto the true scientific attitude andthereby showed himself acontemporary of the men of the seventeenthand eighteenthcenturies and of our own age.

    5. RABELAIS' RATIONALISMIt has already been said that the termof Rabelais' scepticismon its religious side was not atheism, norPyrrhonism on itsphilosophic side. It was said that his scepticismwas relative,that is, it prompted him to shake off the fetters oftradition andauthority and to insist on examining questions ontheir meritby the sole use of the reason, and that it ended inrationalism.Since Rabelais' rationalism constitutes the positiveside of hissceptical temper, we should expect to find rationalisticten-dencies in him from the very outset. Here we encounteradifficulty: how are to be interpreted the obnoxious passages inhisearly books subversive of faith? In Pantagruel 1, "De

    l'origine et anticquite du grand Pantagruel," we find a satireonBiblical genealogies; in chapter 2 he ridicules holy waterand givesan ironical example of the efficacy of prayer; inchapters 14 and 15he parodies the litanies of the Church; inchapter 17 he burlesquesone of its services, and he has in thesame chapter a grossreference-suppressed in the 1542 edition-to the passion of Christ:"Jesus-Christne fut-il pas pendu enl'air?"; in chapter 30 heridicules the current conception of Hell.In Gargantua5, "Les proposdes bienyvres," we find an allusionto the agonizing word of Christon the cross: "J'ay la parolede Dieu en bouche: Sitio"; in chapter6, "Comment Gargantuanaquist en fa*gon bien estrange," the birth ofGargantua fromhis mother's left ear is a parody on theAnnunciation;36in" The 1542 edition suppressed the most daring partof this parody: "Pour-quoi ne le croiriez-vous? Pour ce, dictesvous, qu'il n'y a nulle apparance.

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    of an intense conviction is holding aloof from theReformation,although its apparent liberalism has attractions forhim. Withthe Tiers livre in 1545 his emancipation from all formalcreedsis complete, he is an esprit fort,9 and there remains butonemore step for him to take and still stop short of atheism.Thisstep he will take in the last Book. In brief, Rabelais'finalattitude is the culmination of a long and slow process ofevolu-tion which began before his literary career was initiatedandof whose beginnings we have no written record. The limits ofthisprocess were orthodox Catholicism, which placed noemphasis onnature and reason, and Stoical pantheism, whichis at the same timeeminently naturalistic and rationalistic.The rationalism ofRabelais consists, in its scientific aspect,in the substitution ofempiricism for tradition; in its religiousaspect, in equating God,Reason, and Nature; in its philosophi-cal aspect, in a breakingaway from all the formulas of theMiddle Ages and in an effort toreturn to the philosophy of theancients in so far as this waspossible under the modern con-ditions of life. Philosophy inancient times was determinedlargely by social, economic, and aboveall by political conditions.In the Renaissance the resurrectedphilosophy of Greece andRome was determined above all by religiousconditions. Theschool which most readily adapted itself to thesenew con-ditions was that of the Stoa. Hence we find Stoicism thepre-dominant philosophy of the second half of the sixteenth andthefirst half of the seventeenth century. It will appear in thesecondpart of this study that just as Rabelais was in the fore-frontamong the rationalists of his century, likewise he was oneof itsfirst Stoics.

    At the risk of some dislocation the writer has reserveduntilafter the remarks on Rabelais' naturism, scepticism,and39Villey,p. 277: "Certesnous ne trouvonsdansson oeuvreaucuneraisonde penser, avec ses detracteursfanatiques Calvin, Puyd'Herbault]qu'ilavait repudie a croyanceen Dieu et enl'immortalit6de l'ame;mais outrequeje ne jureraispoint qu'ellefuttres fermeen lui, tout portea croirequ'il etaitdegagedetoutereligionpositive,et j'estimeavecCalvinqu'acette date [1546]ils'6tait detourn6de l'Evangile. Entreles abus de Rome,qu'ilavait vusdepres, et l'intolerancede Geneve,qui s'organisait, l n'y avaitplus de placepour la conceptionfabriciennede la Reforme. Desabus6,l'6vangelisteduGargantua'etait sans doute refugiedans uneindifferencedont l'ironie etaitcontenuepar la prudence."

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    rationalism, a few words supplementing what was said above(seep. 341) as to the difficulty in distinguishing what is decora-tionor pure fun in Rabelais' work from what is advancedseriously as hisopinions or in support of them. Rabelais was nota philosopher byprofession. Montaigne was much nearer beingone, and it isrelatively easy to extract from the Essays a sys-tematic body ofthought. Montaigne discusses his sources andcomments on them; weknow when they correspond or disagreewith his own ideas, or whenthey awaken his scepticism. Sucha critical attitude is foreign toRabelais. But this lack in himmust be envisaged in the light of histimes and in the nature ofhis ideas. We must bear in mind that hiswork yields not onlya body of doctrines which are to be referred tothat branch ofphilosophy known as Ethics, but he goes beyondMontaignein attacking Christian dogmas and in giving us a fairlyadequateidea of his conception of the physical universe. Now, inthedomain of moral philosophy, Rabelais could, quite as wellasMontaigne, set forth without ambiguity and with relativesafetyhis true views, but far different was the case with regardto hisnatural philosophy. His views in this particular wereheretical, andas late as 1600 Giordano Bruno was burnt at thestake for similarbeliefs. In this connection we must not forgetRabelais' contentionswith the Sorbonne and the Parlementof Paris. We know that "chassede France par le malheur destemps," he was compelled, at leasttwice, to seek safety in flight;we know that for many years hiscorrespondence was watched;that there is evidence that he wasimprisoned for a time in1552.40 The question forcibly suggestsitself: Would a manlike Rabelais, who by his own confessioncertainly was notmade of martyr's stuff, have so often incurred thedanger ofperishing at the stake merely in order to indulge his bentforfun or to make a display of his erudition? We may be permittedtodoubt this. After crediting his esprit gaulois and his human-ist'svanity with their fair share of erudite quotations andcitationsthere still remains unaccounted for a sufficient massof them toallow us to obtain a fair idea of his true beliefs. Wemay beallowed to think that Rabelais quite consciously usedhis "eclat derire enorme" in order to escape being burnt at thestake for heresy,and Lefranc's words may safely be credited

    40See the Chronologyn Vol. I of Lefranc's dition,and thecitations.

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    with more than a modicum of truth: "Nul satirique," hesays,41"pas meme Voltaire n'a atteint, semble-t-il, un pareildegred'habilete et de calcul dans l'art de doser les negations lesplushardies."

    PART II. DISCUSSION1. ECLECTICISM

    Eclecticism has a close affinity with rational scepticism. Itisultimately based on the idea that all philosophical systemsarefrequently both contradictory of one another andself-contradictory, and therefore that they eventually destroyoneanother or decay from within. To this is added a secondcon-sideration: as nature and man are composed ofheterogeneouselements, truth likewise may be composed of elementsderivedfrom mutually contradictory systems, each of which hasinitself some parcel of the truth to offer. In piecing out anewsystem from the fragments of the old systems, what shall betheguiding principle of the Eclectic? It shall be one of sus-pendedjudgment in all cases where the Reason remains un-convinced. TheReason should not feel impelled definitely toaccept or rejectdoctrines in dispute when the arguments insupport of either sideappear equally cogent. This mentalattitude is one of rationalscepticism.42The weakness of Eclecticism lies in its inability toformulatea precise, harmonious, and coherent theory of knowledge orofthe universe. The Eclectic inevitably must fall intoincon-sistencies. But this lapse does not disturb him, as usuallyhisaim is only secondarily to secure pure knowledge; he isprimarilyinterested in attaining dependable results for practicalpurposes.Accordingly, "the distinctive doctrines of each schooldrop intothe background; and in the belief that infallibilityresides solelyin the mind itself, such portions are selected fromeach systemas seem most in harmony with the selecting mind."43

    41 Revue de France, May 1922.42 In III, 36, Rabelais showsclearly enough that he is not a Pyrrhonist bymaking Gargantua leavein disgust after Trouillogan's exhibition of unadulter-atedPyrrhonism. Gargantua is vexed with Trouillogan's performancebecauseit appears to him to be not a use but an abuse of thereason, inasmuch as itenables one to escape all intellectual andmoral responsibility.

    43 Eduard Zeller, Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics, tr. byReichel, new andrevised ed. 1892, p. 29; see also Charles Benard,L'esthetiqued'Aristote, 1887,pp. 256-257, 277 ff.

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    Third, the theory of special creation ex nihilo. This istheBiblical account, which teaches that about 6,000 years agoGodcreated the universe out of nothing and that some dayHe willdestroy it and again reduce it to nothing.The theologians of thesixteenth century passed over inalmost complete silence the theoryof cycles but attacked theAristotelian theory as being contrary torevelation, subversiveof faith, and atheistic in tendency. Theyheld that it minimizedProvidence and reduced to little or nothingthe role of God increation and in the government of theworld.46Rabelais has expressed himself on this question withsufficientfrequency and clearness to leave no doubt as to his ownposition.His views were entirely orthodox; he subscribed to thetra-ditional doctrine that God had created the world out ofnothingand could reduce it to nothing. He expressed this viewwithabsolute clearness in the Pantagrueline Pronostication(1532)chapter 1: " .... Dieu, le createur, lequel par sa divineparolletout regist et modere .... et sans la maintenance etgouverne-ment duquel toutes choses seraient en un moment reduictesaneant, comme de neant elles ont este par luy produictes enleurestre."He places the date of creation some 6,000 years ago.47Thisview of special creation was expressed, it is true, at a timewhenhe was still orthodox, but in almost every book of hisromancehe alludes to this doctrine.48 In V, 37, he identifies theidea of

    46See Busson, pp. 476, 214-220, for Vicomercato's views, whichwere thoseof the Peripatetic schools.47III, 18: "Mais, o vainesentreprinses des femmes .... elles commen-cerent escorcherl'homme... .par la partie qui plus leurs hayte, c'est le membrenerveulx,caverneulx, plus de six mille ans a ...."48 II, 8: "Toutes chosesseront reduictes a leur fin et periode"; 14: "detrente sept jubileznous n'aurons le jugement final, et sera Cusanus trompeen sesconjectures," (Jean Plattard, RER, VIII, at p. 265: "II [Cusanus]avaitfix6 la fin du monde actuel au 34e jubile apres J.-C., lejubile comprenant uneperiode de cinquante ans, comme chez lesjuifs. La conjecture 6tait fond6e surcette consideration que ledeluge 6tait arrive au 34e jubile apres la creation dumonde"); 28:.... aulcuns disoient que c'estoit la fin du monde et le juge-mentfinal, qui doibt estre consomme par feu"; III, 2: "qui scait si lemondedurera encores troys ans?"; 18: see preceding note; IV, Ancienprologue:"toutes choses sublunaires ont leur fin et periode"; 15:"Le monde ne fait plusque resver. Il approache de sa fin"; 26: "ladeclination du monde"; V, 37:TOUTES CHOSE SE MEUVENT A LEURFIN.

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    the destruction of the world with the Stoic idea of Destiny.Maywe infer from this that he subscribed to the Stoic doctrineofcycles? There is nowhere any indication of this.49 How thenare weto reconcile the orthodoxy of this belief with his hetero-doxy onother points? By showing that the notion of thedestruction of theworld is not only Christian, but pantheisticas well, that it wasgenerally entertained even by advancedthinkers like Jean Bodin whocould not possibly be countedamong the orthodox. Bodin twicediscusses the question andgives as a reason for the destruction ofthe world a desire on thepart of God to return to his originalstate of repose.50In general,the systems of philosophy of theancients-Aristotle's being thenotable exception-were pantheistic,and chief among thepantheistic schools stood Stoicism andNeoplatonism. A funda-mental doctrine of the pantheism of these twoschools was thatof emanation and absorption, produced, in the caseof Neo-platonism, through a number of theophanies. Neoplatonism,itis well known, influenced profoundly the early ChurchFathersandthrough them John Scot Erigena, the ancestor of thepantheists ofthe Middle Ages and the Renaissance.5" Therecan be no doubt thatRabelais was acquainted with Erigena

    49 Unless the passage in IV, 27, where he discusses theimmortality of thesoul be so construed: "Quant aux semidieux,panes, satyres, sylvains, folletz,aegipanes, nymphes, heroes etdaemons, plusieurs ont par la somme totaleresultante des agesdivers supputez par Hesiode compte leurs vies estre de9,720 ans.... "

    60 In his Theatrede la Nature and the Heptaplomeres. In thesecond he says:"Si nous posons le cas que le monde ait est6 cr6e,il faudra qu'en tant et tantd'innumerables millions de siecles(exceptees six mille ann6es qui ne sont pasencore expirees) il yavait eu une merveilleuse obscurite au vuide incompre-hensible quia precede le monde: et par ainsi il n'y aurait pas longtempsqueDieu, se reveillant comme d'un sommeil, se soit adonne a lacreation du monde,auquel pourtant il deust bientost bailler la finet ruyne pour retourner de sonaction motrice a son premier repos."Quoted from Busson, p. 545. On theHeptaplomeres,see Charbonnel, pp.624-627.61See Saint-Rene Taillandier, Scot Erigene et laphilosophie scolastique,1843, and A. Jundt, Histoire dupantheismepopulaire au moyen age et au seiziemesiecle, 1875.Picavet upholds in his history of medieval philosophy thethesisthat Neoplatonism was of paramount importance in fashioningthe new Chris-tian theology. The affinity subsisting between thedoctrines of the Platonists,new and old, and the Christianteachings has already been adverted to in thisstudy.

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    and his teachings. He alludes to the medieval philosopheratleast four times in his romance,52and in such terms asclearlyindicate that he was acquainted with his philosophy atfirsthand. It is a fair inference, accordingly, that Rabelais,byfollowing in the footsteps of the great medieval thinker, founditeasy to reconcile what orthodox beliefs still lingered in himwith asystem of thought essentially pagan, it is true, butwhichnevertheless the Church Fathers had succeeded to theirownsatisfaction in reconciling with their creed.

    In conclusion, we might say that Rabelais' pantheism enabledhimto avoid a difficulty that confronted Justus Lipsius andGuillaumeDu Vair. It enabled him to escape from the dilemmapresented by theChristian anthropomorphic God and thephysics of the Stoa, whichidentified God and Nature. As apantheist, Rabelais could easilyaccept the monism of theStoics, whereas Lipsius and Du Vair asorthodox Christiansfound themselves confronted by an insolubledifficulty, whichthe former, at any rate, sought to evade byresolving the monismof the Stoic School into a dualism. Lipsiusattempted by quota-tions from Seneca and Cicero to restrict themeaning of naturaamong the Stoics so as to signify nothing morethan the Spiritand Reason of God.53In this wise he sought toidentify Natureand God by seeing in both "the eternal spirit of theworld whichcreates and maintains life, that is to say,Providence."

    3. PROVIDENCE, FREE WILL, DESTINYThe two antagonisticexplanations of the universe, the teleo-logical and themechanistic, lay at the basis of the varioussolutions of theproblem of Providence, Free Will, and Destiny,current in thesixteenth century. For the purpose of this dis-cussion thesesolutions may be reduced to four:First, what is apparentlyAristotle's theory, that since Godstands outside the world insolitary self-contemplation, and62 I, 7: " .... docteurs scotistes.... et sentent de loin heresie"; 13: "ettelle est l'opinion demaistre Jehan d'Escosse"; III, 17: "Heracl*tus, grandscotiste ett6nebreux philosophe" (an equation, very likely, of the pantheismofthe two, and the adjective "t6nebreux", an allusion which fits bothErigena'sheterodox doctrines and the difficulty of grasping them);V, Prologue: " ....les sentences sent scotines et obscures. ..."63See especially Seneca, On Benefits, IV, 7, and NaturalQuestions, II, 45,and Zanta's comments, pp. 227-229.

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    enigmatic passage in V, 9: "Comment nous descendismes enl'Isledes ferremens." In this island tools and weapons of allsorts growon trees and fall into scabbards ready to receivethem, whenever thetree is shaken. Under a different kind oftree grow weapons ofanother sort, which, on coming in contactwith the trees, findpoints, blades, and handles, ready-made tofit them. In all this thewriter sees the doctrine of teleologypresented under symbolicalform. Here is the passage whichmakes us pause:

    Vray est qu'en toutes choses (Dieu excepte)advientquelquefoiserreur. Nature mesme n'en est exempte quandelle produitchosesmonstrueuses t animauxdifformes. Pareillement n ces arbres eno-tay quelquefaute: carune demiepiquecroissantehaute en l'airsousces arbresferrementiportes,n touchantles rameaux,en lieu deferrencontraun balay: bien, ce sera pour ramonnera cheminee.Unepertuisanerencontrades cizailles;tout est bon: ce sera pourosterles chenilles des jardins. Une hampe de hallebarderencontra eferd'une faux, et sembloit hermaphrodite: 'est tout un, ce serapourquelque aucheur.C'estbelle hose roire nDieu

    These three points need to be stressed: (a) the passage,takenliterally, exhibits the Aristotelian view of God and Natureand isteleological; (b) the italicized words are, in the writer'sopinion,ironical and seem to be aimed at this teleological viewof nature;(c) if this conjecture is right, the chapter would seemto indicatean Epicurean, atheistic view of the world. In thelanguage ofmathematics, the passage constitutes a "singularpoint." What doesit really mean? Any answer must be purelysubjective. The writeracknowledges his inability to offer asolution. The best that can bedone is to leave the reader tojudge for himself.God and Nature,says Aristotle, do nothing without a purpose;the latter alwaysstrives, so far as conditions allow, to achieveperfection; nothingis superfluous or useless in her, or accidentalin her creations.However, while striving toward definite endsshe often fails, owingto the resistance of matter against form,in the full realization ofher plans and produces many incompleteobjects, whichnevertheless heendeavorsasfar as possibleto makeuse offor purposesof herown.57

    67Eduard Zeller, Aristotle and the Early Peripatetics, 2 vols.,tr. by B. F. C.Costello and J. H. Muirhead, 1897, I, 466: "It isfrom this resistance offered

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    The other ancient schools, except Epicureanism which differedinthis respect from all of them, shared the teleological viewsofAristotle. The great aim of Epicureanism was to offer a viewofnature that would preclude all necessity for divine inter-vention,and to impute all phenomena to natural causes. Tothe Epicureans itwas absurd to imagine that the arrangementsof nature have for theirobject the well-being of mankind, or anyobject at all. Theyinsisted that nothing should be explainedas an intentionalarrangement by the Deity, but that every-thing should be referredto mechanical causes.In fine, though there is considerable doubt,it appears thatRabelais accepted Providence. As to Free Will andDestiny,though in the motto of Theleme, FAIS CE QUE VOULDRAS58 hebymatter to form that Aristotle derives all irregular naturalphenomena(terata), such as abortions and the like. He regards themas the stoppage ofnature in the midst of an unfulfilled design, asa mutilation and failure of theresult which she originallyintended." The later Stoics (Seneca) for this oppo-sition betweenmatter and form substituted an opposition between matter anddeity.Over against deity, which is the principle of good, they regardedmatteras the ground of all evil. See W. Windelband, A History ofPhilosophy, tr. byTufts, 1914, p. 230. Herein is the philosophicalbackground of Rabelais'apologue of Physis ("c'est Nature") andAntiphysie ("la quelle est partie ad-verse de Nature"), IV, 32, inwhich his philosophy of naturism led him on toattack bothProtestants and Catholics, "les demoniacles Calvins imposteursdeGeneve, les enraigez Putherbes .... monstres difformes etcontrefaicts endepit de Nature."68The problem of the last threeschools of philosophy among the Greeks, theStoic, the Sceptic, andthe Epicurean, was a problem of freedom. They alltaught that theaim of man was happiness. The problem was, how to obtainthishappiness? The Stoic solution, which was that of the Cynics also,was toconsider man as the unit and to reduce his wants to nothing,thereby renderinghim independent of everything, thus making him themaster of all things(mathematically: = oo). The Sceptic solutionwas to obtain freedom, andtherefore happiness, through universalignorance, which would leave manabsolutely untrammeled by knowledgeor facts and raise him above all responsi-bility ( = oo). TheEpicurean solution was to consider the world as one'soyster, to besuperior to it and to use it as one saw fit without compulsionorhindrance of any kind (Pascal, Pensee 413, Brunschwicg edition,would haveequated the Epicurean solution thus: ~=0). In his Abbayede Th6lemeRabelais adopts the Epicurean solution. The enjoymentwhich Epicurus soughtwas the enjoyment of one's own cultivatedpersonality, first of all, and whereverthis standard prevailsparticular value is attached to the personal relations ofsocietyand to friendship. In the second place, since happiness is to besought,not in subordination to a universal law, but in individualgratification or

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    apparently accepted the freedom of the will, he remains silentinthe last three Books on this question, except for theStoicpleasure, it was an inevitable development of the system thatto repose of mindand cheerfulness of disposition it should join thehedonistic doctrine of sensualgratification. It is this finalaspect of Epicureanism that is found in the firsttwo Books ofRabelais and apotheosized in Theleme. Now this form ofEpicure-anism, paradoxical as it may seem, verges upon Stoicism,inasmuch as both areultimately naturistic. Both could sincerelyadopt the maxim of sequerenaturam(cf. Montaigne III, 12), and thisconformity with Nature is in the final analysiswhat Rabelaisexpected of the dwellers in Theleme. A second contact of Ra-belaiswith Stoicism in his Epicurean period is to be found in theCalvinisticdoctrine of predestination, which is analogical with theStoicfatum and to whichhe seems to have subscribed at the period ofGargantua(see the passages of I,58, in editions Anterior 1535,1535, 1537, which he omitted in the 1542 edition).The greatdifference between the two doctrines is that according toCalvinismman has a delectation for evil and thereforeis damnedunless saved by the specialgrace of God, which is granted only inextraordinary cases. Now, in any natural-istic system, man'sdelectation, to use theological language, must be for good,and thisis precisely what Rabelais affirms in the celebrated passage in I,57,imitated from Castiglione's II Cortegiano: " .... parce que gensliberes, biennez, bien instruictz conversans en compagnieshonnestes, ont par nature uninstinct et aiguillon qui tousjours lespoulse d faictz vertueux et retire de vice,lequel ilz nommenthonneur." Thus at the very moment when Rabelais wasmost outspokenin his support of the views of Calvin (cf. I, 54), aninvincibleantagonism was already beginning to manifest itselfbetween the two in theirviews on nature. Rabelais was attracted tothe Reform by its rationalisticattitude in theological matters, butalso quite as much by its negative side, thefreedom from restraintit promised. However, when Calvin began to developthe reactionarypositive side of his system Rabelais was disillusioned andrepelled,and he turned away from the new creed. Feeling out of sympathywithboth the Church and the Reformation he now began to formulatehis ownsystem, which is based on a pantheistic conception of Godand Nature. In histhird, or Stoical, period, (Books III, IV, V),Rabelais upholds the naturalisticview of life implied in the mottoof Theleme, but jettisons the grosserhedonisticaspects of his firstperiod. We see this in the reduced role of meat and winein the lastthree Books, in Pantagruel's specific denunciation of theGastrolatorsin IV, 60, and in the injunction of the "illustrissimelanterne," the soul ofPierre Lamy: "le vin vous est en mespris, etpar vous conculque et subjugue"for all who "s'adonnent et dedient acontemplation des choses divines doiventen tranquillite leursesprits maintenir, hors toute perturbation des sens, laquelleplusest manifest6e en yvrognerie qu'en autre passion quelle que soit"(V, 34).We can now see the background of the ultimate form Rabelaisgave to hisPantagruelisme: une certaine gayete d'esprit conficte enmespris des chosesfor-tuites, with its admixture of Epicurean andStoic elements.

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    THE ECLECTICISM OF RABELAISmotto which he places at the entranceof the temple of theHoly Bottle (V, 37):

    DUc*nt VOLENTEM FATA, NOLENTEM TRAHUNTwhich, after all, is theexpression of a conditioned and not aservile will.59

    4. MIRACLESBoth Antiquity and the Middle Ages had anunqualifiedbelief in the supernatural, a belief which has lostcredit withintelligent people only in recent times, and stillpersists amongthe ignorant. This belief has translated itself atvarious timesinto such forms as divination, magic and witchcraft,andmiracles. The philological and historical investigationswhichthe early Reformers were compelled to undertake in ordertosubstantiate their assertion that the Church against whichtheywere in revolt had corrupted the spirit and the practicesofprimitive Christianity helped bring about an attitude ofrationalismwhich eventually undermined the belief in thesupernatural. But inthe days of Rabelais magic and divinationflourished in the wake ofthe Neoplatonic revival, and miracleswere generally credited;however, the belief in witchcraft,which had not been altogetherunknown in Antiquity and theMiddle Ages, was still in abeyance andwas not to become ascandal and a peril until the end of thecentury.Rabelais' views on magic need not detain us herebeyondsaying that though he does not express an opinion aboutit,the purely literary purposes to which he puts the magical,thatis, to supply the element of the marvelous, which isalmostessential to the type of medieval romance he is parodying,andthe burlesque of this marvelous, make it plain that he didnotshare the general belief in it. Accordingly, the only aspectofthe supernatural of interest to us in this discussion is thebeliefin miracles.Respecting the dissipation of the belief inmiracles thatfollowed in the wake of the Reformation, a distinctionmust bemade between the Gospel miracles, accepted byProtestants69For the Stoic doctrine of the conditioned will seeZeller, Stoics, etc., pp.

    179-181, 216. See also the discussion in Boethius, DeConsolationephilosophiae,V.

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    N. H. CLEMENTand Catholics alike,60and the ecclesiasticalmiracles accreditedto itself by the Church. These were merely meansof edificationand impostures of the Church, according to theProtestant view,which thus ruled out all the miracles of thepatrology andhagiography of the Middle Ages.The sixteenth centuryoffered two explanations for miracles:(a) the believers saw in themthe intervention in mundane affairsof saints and demons; (b) thephilosophers believed that mattermight be subservient to mindwhich, consequently, could pro-duce at will various naturalphenomena.61 Rabelais' attitude,which apparently is a reflectionpartly of Cicero's and partlyof the Epicurean doctrine, is inadvance of his time. Somepretended miracles he openly derides,others he ascribes toregular and orderly processes of nature withwhich we are notfamiliar because of our ignorance and their rareoccurrence.He stands almost alone in his time in his intuition oftheuniversality and the regularity of the laws of nature, thoughhedid not actually know them, and to preserve their integrityandefficacy he readily questions the genuineness of eventscalledmiraculous, even when they are related in the NewTestament.Heopenly derides ecclesiastical miracles in his first twoBooks,62buthe does not offer against them the argument whichhe will use later.In the interlude between Gargantua (1534)and the Tiers livre (1545)he has accepted the idea of the

    60 See Lecky, I, ch. 2, pp. 178-179, for a summing up of thearguments infavor of the authenticity of miracles.61See Busson, pp.45-51, for Pomponazzi's views, which were based onCicero's andrepresented those of the Paduan School. Pomponazzi did notbelievein the supernatural, but he seems to have believed in the occult.62Examples: II, 2, rain obtained by prayer; 7, Saint Gertrudeappearingto a nun in the pangs of childbirth; 14, the escape ofPanurge from the Turks;

    30, the burlesque resuscitation of Epistemon. In Gargantuahisattack againstthe supernatural becomes broader. In chap. 27,referring to the escape ofPicrochole's men from the pestilence hesays: " .... qui est cas assez mer-veilleux, car les curez,vicares, prescheurs, medecins, chirurgiens et apothecairesquiallaient visiter, penser, guerir, prescher et admonester lesmalades, estoienttous mors de l'infection, et ces diables pilleurset meurtriers oncques n'y prin-drent mal. Dont vient cela,Messieurs? Pensez, je vous prie"; in the samechapter he laughs atthe powerlessness of Christ's shroud to save itself fromburning; inchap. 45 he condemns the superstition that the saints can causeorcure disease. See RER, IV, 199 ff.

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    universality of natural law, which the Stoics had elaboratedfromAristotle, and which offers a deterministic explanationof allphenomena, ordinary or extraordinary.63 This is theobvious meaningof the Paradox of Lenders and Spenders(III, 2-4), which glorifiesthe conception of natural law, and isbased on the Stoic notion ofthe intimate connection, or, asthe Stoics called it, the"sympathy," subsisting throughout theuniverse and pervading allnature.64 Such a conception of theuniverse bars out thesupernatural, and events so called by theignorant the Stoicsreferred to natural laws, from which theywere speculativelydeduced. In this deduction the Stoics proveduntrue to thefundamental notion underlying their theory ofthe universe, as itopened the way to their belief in and practiceof divination,prophecy, and astrology. It is just here thatRabelais shows himselfin advance of his time, of the Stoicphilosophy, and of Cicero: inhis sceptical as opposed to theapologetic attitude toward thesupernatural.

    Cicero, whose De divinatione and De naturadeorumRabelaisfrequently cites, offers this rationalisticexplanation of thesupernatural (De div., II, 28):Whatevers born,ofwhateverkindit maybe,must havesomecause nnature,so that eventhoughit may be contraryto custom,it cannotpossiblybe contrarytonature. Investigate, if you can, the naturalcauseofeverynovelandextraordinaryirc*mstance:-evenif youcan-not discoverthe causestill you may feel sure that nothingcanhavetakenplacewithouta cause;and,by theprinciplesfnature,driveawaythat terrorwhichthenoveltyof thethingmayhaveoccasioned ou.

    6sWhile t is true thatPomponazzi's xplanation f miraclesmplieshe ideanovelfor the time of the reignof law in the universeseeBusson,pp. 44, 221-225)nevertheless e does notdevelopcompletelyhis implication.For the Stoicidea of natural aw,according o whichnothingcanhappenwithout sufficientcause, orunderthe same circ*mstances ifferently rom what has happened,seeZeller,Stoics,etc., pp. 173 ff.64A strainofNeoplatonism,whichregards he worldas a work of art, adivinepoem,isfoundin the Paradoxside by side with the Stoicphysics. SeeBenard,p.360, andWindelband, . 367. At p. 335 Windelband iscusses heStoicand Neoplatonicdoctrineof "sympathy." "Plotinus s alsoconnectedwith the Stoicsin his doctrineof the 'sympathyof allthings.' But whiletheyintended his to meanthe mutualconnectionfcauseandeffect,Plotinusmeansby it an operationat a distance,whichrests on the fact that, owing to theuniversalvitalityandanimationof the world,everything hat affectsa partofit is feltby the wholeandconsequently y all the otherparts."

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    These words are echoed by Rabelais in a discourse by theQueen ofQuintessence, V, 22:Cequefait les humainspensem*ns sgarerparesabismesd'admiration,n'est la souverainete des effects, lesquelsapertementls esprouventnaistredes causesnaturelles,moyennant'industriedes sages artisans;c'est a nouveaute el'experiencentranten leur sens,nonprevoyansafacilitedel'oeuvre,uandudgementerainassocieestudediligent.Pour-tant soyez en cerveauet de toute rayeurvousdespouillezi d' aucuneestes saisis a laconsiderationde ce que voyez par mes officiersestrefait. Voyez,entendez,contempleza vostre libre arbitre out cequemamaisoncontient,vous peu a peu emancipansduservaged'ignorance."

    However, Rabelais differs from Cicero in his disinclinationtocredit stories of the extraordinary (see Part I, ??4-5), which,asthe quotation from him shows, Cicero readily admitted, butwhich hesought to account for rationally. This attitudeRabelais probablyowed to the Epicurean philosophy whichstressed the study of naturalscience almost exclusively becausethe knowledge of natural causes,it taught, is the only meansof liberating the soul from theshackles of superstition.Busson is tempted to believe that inaddition to attackingthe ecclesiastical miracles65Rabelais attacksalso those of theGospels, even those attributed to Christ himself.In theresurrection of Epistemon (II, 30) he is inclined, alongwithothers, to see a satire of the miraculous cures operated byChristin which he uses ointment (John IX, 1-11); he thinks thatthewords Panurge uses to reassure Pantagruel and Eusthenes areaburlesque adaptation of those of Christ when performingsimilarmiracles66; n Gargantua's birth from his mother's ear,he sees atravesty on the Annunciation conceived in a spiritof scepticalmockery67; he thinks that the incurable cases

    65Seepp. 18, 20-21,187,191.66 Panurge ays: II, 30:"Enfans,nepleurezgoutte, l est encore outchault,

    je vous le guerirayaussisainqu'ilfut jamais";Christsays, Mark,V,39: "Andwhen he was comein, he saith unto them, Why makeye thusadoand weep?the damsel s not dead,but sleepeth";LukeVII, 13:"Andwhenthe Lord sawher,he had compassionon her,and said untoher,Weep not";LukeVIII, 52:"Andall wept and bewailedher;but hesaid, Weep not; she is not dead,butsleepeth."67 Bussonremarks,p.191: " .... la choseest d'autantplus vraisemblableque laphraseparlaquelleRabelaisappuie a realit6 del'invraisemblableais-

    372

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    THE ECLECTICISM OF RABELAIS

    reserved for the Queen of Quintessence herself (V, 20) isanattack on the miracles of Christ in the New Testamentasdistinguished from those performed by the apostles.The writer isinclined to agree with Busson in spite of thesesomewhat far-fetchedanalogies. If the reader remembers thesections (??4, 5) of thefirst part dealing with Rabelais' scepti-cism and his rationalism,he will be prone to believe thatRabelais had a deep-rooted biasagainst all forms of the super-natural and extraordinary. Certainlywhat evidence there iswould seem to demand the inclusion even ofdivine miracleswithin the range of his scepticism.

    5. THE SOULThe question of the vovs,mens, intellect, or, as itis commonlycalled, the soul, originally mooted by the Averroists ofthethirteenth century, was frequently discussed in thesixteenth,when almost all the doctrines of the various systems ofphilos-

    ophy of the ancients were revived. Antiquity and the MiddleAgesbequeathed to the sixteenth century the following viewsof thesoul:First, the view of the Epicureans that the soul is amaterialresembling fire and air. When the connection between thesouland the body is severed, the soul, deprived of its shelter,canno longer exist, and its atoms are dispersed.Second, the view ofthe Stoics, who identified God with theactive reason, whichinterpenetrates and animates the entireuniverse as its body. Thisreason is creative, they taught, isa substance, a warm vital breath(pneuma), and in animatethings its activity is connected with theblood and its circulation.The individual soul, in the system of theStoics, bears the samerelation to the World-Soul as a part to thewhole. The Stoicsdiffered in their views on immortality, somerecognizing thesurvival of all souls till the end of the10,000-year cycle, whenthey were to perish in the generalconflagration, others reservingthis qualified immortality only forthe wise.

    sance de son heros est pr6cisem*nt celle par laquelle l'angeannonce a Marie laconception et

Clement_ the Eclecticism of Rabelais - [PDF Document] (2024)

FAQs

What did Rabelais write about? ›

Rabelais' most famous works are the Gargantua-Pantagruel series, four books published from 1532 to 1535. Framed as chivalric romances, they use the theatrical language of vaudeville to satirize heroic works, traditional pedagogy, and humanist ideals.

How did François Rabelais change the world? ›

Rabelais brought into the Renaissance a focus on science and mathematics. Rabelais was also a promoter of the arts. Rabelais used his writing, especially his satire and humor to draw attention to a number of Renaissance issues and concerns.

What was Rabelais masterpiece? ›

Today, he is remembered as the French writer responsible for the comic masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel, which was published between 1532 and 1564. His creative exuberance, colorful and wide-ranging vocabulary, and literary variety have gained him a lasting place in the history of 16th-century French literature.

Why is Rabelais still important today? ›

Rabelais is important today because of his writing. Rabelais is considered by most scholars to be one of the great writers of the Renaissance. Even more, Rabelais is credited as being one of the originators of European writing.

Why were Gargantua and Pantagruel banned? ›

Though the books were banned by civil and church authorities for their satirical content and earthy humor, they were read throughout Europe.

What did Rabelais say? ›

Half the world does not know how the other half lives. Tell the truth and shame the devil. It is better to write of laughter than of tears, for laughter is the property of man. Everything comes in time to those who can wait.

What does rabelaisan mean? ›

1. : of, relating to, or characteristic of Rabelais or his works. 2. : marked by gross robust humor, extravagance of caricature, or bold naturalism.

What did Lucilius write about? ›

An egoist of ebullient nature, pungent wit, and strong opinions, Lucilius used the satiric form for self-expression, fearlessly criticizing public as well as private conduct and displaying the originality of his genius by using themes of daily life: politics, social life, luxury, marriage, business, and travel.

What did TS Eliot write about? ›

On the model of this, Eliot wrote three more poems—“East co*ker” (1940), “The Dry Salvages” (1941), and “l*ttle Gidding” (1942)—in which he explored through images of great beauty and haunting power his own past, the past of the human race, and the meaning of human history.

What did Rabelais and Shakespeare have in common? ›

Answer. Francois Rabelais, William Shakespeare, and Miguel de Cervantes were Renaissance authors who used humor and satire in their works, like the comic portrayal of peasants.

References

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