In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is time to announce the April–May 2021 topic challenge.
Based on the number of votes (+4), the fourth topic challenge of the year 2021 will be
Gargantua and Pantagruel
What's a topic challenge?
See the meta posts linked above, and also this main Meta post. In short, during April and May 2021 you are invited to try to read at least one part (or an excerpt) from François Rabelais's series of novels about Gargantua and Pantagruel and ask questions about it.
Participation is not obligatory in any sense, and questions on other works are more than welcome during April and May too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.
How can I take part?
By getting hold of one of the novels about Gargantua and Pantagruel and asking good questions about it. Questions about these works should be tagged with francois-rabelais, french-literature and gargantua-and-pantagruel. We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.
The series of five novels on Gargantua and Pantagruel by the French humanist François Rabelais (between 1483 and 1494 – 9 April 1553) are, as Wikipedia says, "written in an amusing, extravagant, and satirical vein, and [feature] much crudity, scatological humor, and violence". The novels are not to everybody's taste (for example, George Orwell didn't like them), but Laurence Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy, saw himself as Rabelais' successor in humour writing.
Rabelais is irreverent towards narrowmindedness (even though he was a monk, he also criticised the Church in a time when this was still dangerous) and pretentiousness. (Annotated editions from the 1950s still contained some partially censored footnotes.) His work has been the subject of much analysis, such as Bakhtin's study Rabelais and His World.
The series contains the following books (identified by their conventional short titles):
- Pantagruel (circa 1532; English translation of Pantagruel by Thomas Urquhart and Peter Antony Motteux)
- Gargantua (1534; English translation of Gargantua by Thomas Urquhart and Peter Antony Motteux)
- The Third Book of Pantagruel (1546; English translation of The Third Book by Thomas Urquhart and Peter Antony Motteux)
- The Fourth Book of Pantagruel (1552; English translation of The Fourth Book by Thomas Urquhart and Peter Antony Motteux)
- The Fifth Book of Pantagruel (circa 1564; the attribution of this book has been debated; English translation of The Fifth Book by Thomas Urquhart and Peter Antony Motteux)
Feel free to add links to other translations and online texts below.
- Vote for the next topic challenge (May–June), or propose your own!