Customer Reviews


6 Reviews
5 star:
 (1)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny medieval toilet humour, 28 Dec. 2003
This review is from: The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (Classics) (Paperback)
Rabelais was a benedictine monk writing in the 16th Century. This hardly sounds like a recommendation for a good read, does it? However, as Rabelais points out, there are two types of monk: those that are abstemious and chaste, and those that drink too much and sleep with as many nuns as possible. He is the latter, and he expects his readers (his 'fellow boozers') to be likewise. 'G&P' is a bawdy romp through the social and religious philosophy of medieval Europe.
Rabelais' humour is often toilet humour. His characters defecate, urinate, belch and fart their way through a series of grotesque fairy tale style adventures. They are obsessed with bodily functions, and with the pursuit of all manner of sensual pleasures in general, be they concerned with sex, drink or eating. Much amusement is drawn from word play arising from the multitude of names for the more unmentionable parts of human anatomy. Women are ferociously denigrated, as is anyone from a different race or creed to the author (more or less). If all of the doesn't sound particularly sophisticated, thats because often it isn't, but it remains very funny, especially when you bear in mind the period during which the book was written and the ocupation of its author.
'G&P' does (sometimes) have a serious point, however, as it lampoons many of the figures and organisations active during that period. Some references are obvious, others oblique, but to be honest it doesn't really matter if they all pass you by. The book (actually 5 books) remains a very good read and a very good laugh. The first, second and fourth parts are brilliant. I found the third (concerning Panurge's worries about his future wife) very dull and the fifth (much of which may not have actually been by Rabelais) very strange. However, this wouldn't stop me heartily recommending this book. It is a cross between Umberto Eco, Grimm's Fairy Tales and 'Carry on Camping', so may not be to everyone's taste, but if you find any of this at all intriguing, then I suggest that you give this book a read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gross, but engrossing, 12 May 2011
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (Classics) (Paperback)
Here's a book in which the name of one of the main characters has given us a synonym for "enormous", whilst the author's name has spawned an adjective for coarse humour or bold caricature (which I came across most recently in the title track of Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat). Rabelais was a monk and physician who lived in sixteenth century France, and who took aim at oppressive religious and civil forces, pomposity and humbug of all kinds in this classic of world literature. One of its most well-known sections is a description of the so-called Abbey of Thélème, which Rabelais presents as a utopia (with the motto 'Do What Thou Wilt') in order to critique society and the state of the church; this imaginary institution may have also formed the inspiration for Francis Dashwood's Hellfire Club and Aleister Crowley's Thelema religion.

The book's characters travel through a vividly-drawn grotesque world of violence, stupidity and greed in which no opportunity is lost to describe bodily functions and various types of sensual pleasure. Little attention is paid to plot, or consistency in character development; instead, there's a flood of outrageous anecdotes and adventures which come from the author's wildly original imagination, and his almost uncontrollable fascination with words. This latter quality is made manifest throughout the text in lengthy lists - which, in places, are arranged in columns that march across many pages - and that illustrate the author's propensity to (as mentioned on p17 of the introduction) "play with words as children do with pebbles; he piles them up into heaps".

I enjoyed reading this book because of this fascination, which I found completely engrossing; although rather lengthy (c. 700 pages), it's divided up into very short chapters which facilitate navigation through it. At times I wondered if more editorial material would have been helpful - some of its episodes seem to have their roots as parodies of contemporary religious and civil disputes, which it might have been interesting to learn more about. Indeed, a more recent translation than this one (which first appeared in 1955) appears to have more of this background information. But most of the book has a timeless appeal: after all, people haven't changed much, and - to take just one example - the quest that Gargantua describes in Chapter 13 of Book 1 for the ideal material for the performance of a distasteful but crucial bodily practice is always of basic interest, even if his conclusion (the neck of a goose) could be viewed as contentious.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant fun if not entirely consistent, 1 Jun. 2012
This review is from: The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (Classics) (Paperback)
Reading doesn't get much more enjoyable than books 1 and 2 of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Both are wonderfully ludicrous, playfully crass, consistently hilarious and jolly good fun. Of course, there's more to Rabelais than all that but you get the distinct impression that the man himself would rather be entertaining than painstakingly examined - and entertain he most certainly does!

For me, book 3 doesn't live up to the first two. I admit to finding it a bit dull! The trademark humour is still there but it's neither as concentrated nor as consistent and that's a shame. Book 4 is excellent once again, although I still feel it doesn't reach the glorious heights (or should that be dirty depths?) of the first two, whilst book 5 is rather bizarre!

All in all, Gargantua and Pantagruel is brilliant but I couldn't give it the full 5 stars because of that third book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 16 Mar. 2015
By 
N. SHARP (Torbay UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (Classics) (Paperback)
Enlightening!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book For Those Who Love Bawdy and Bathroom Humor, 27 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (Classics) (Paperback)
This book is the best one I have ever read for using sexual and execretory references for effective satire. The optimal reader is probably a boy aged 8-13 who loves to explore the world from this perspective already. Older readers will enjoy the social commentary as well, but may not revel in the means of the commentary unless they like extensive references to bodily functions.
The use of the humor in this book is like slapstick is to comedy, its most outrageous and least restrained form.
No one can stay grumpy while reading this book. It may be the only literary solution for depression ever developed.
Obviously, if you can read French, it is even better in the original.
Many people will choose not to read this book because of the earthy nature of the language. That is probably a mistake, because those who make that choice are suffering from the unattractiveness stall, not seeing the swan in the ugly duckling. Earthy humor can be a great way to communicate, in the appropriate circumstances. You owe it to yourself to learn how a master, Rabelais, does it.
As a tip to the reader who has more sensitive tastes, I suggest you skip through to the end of sections that are bothering you. The very next section may well be one that leaves you in uncontrolled laughter, irresistibly lightening your mood.
Have a great laugh!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant quality, 9 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (Classics) (Paperback)
I thought the book was brilliant! The binding was not too flexible, thought I thought a couple of times it would break, but our Rabelais is made of stronger stuff! Enjoyed holding it! I reccommend it to anyone interested in softback books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (Classics)
The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (Classics) by Francois Rabelais (Paperback - 28 Feb. 1983)
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews