on 22 February 2002
I am not sure how much many of you will be enamoured by this, but Rabelais' genius was what inspired much of Proust's opus "à la rechereche du temps perdu".
The burlesque and bodily humour used is shocking in this age never mind the 16th century and its use is subtle but brilliant. It makes you laugh out loud and is sincerely a piece of fiction that can be understood on all levels. However, I echo sentiments suggesting that this is a novel to be appreciated by those mature enough to deal with the subject matter. The grotesque imagery conjured up by the brilliant Rabelais is often quite offensive but equally beautiful.
Funnily enough, this novel, though spectacularly brilliant, signalled the end of such humour in literature for the way it was crucified by one and all and it was, thankfully, Proust who revived it. If you enjoy this I wholeheartedly suggest that you read at least some of Proust.
on 24 January 2014
Oh dear, where to start. As somebody who was raised with the maxim "if you cannot say anything nice to say about something or someone, say nothing at at all" then this review would be nothing more than a blank page. However, I feel a duty to warn other prospective readers of wasting even the most fleeting intake of breath on such tripe.
The prose of the book is almost impenetrable. Granted, writing styles are as susceptible to fashion as your finest clothes, and the book was written during a period of florid description. While one may find it tiresome in some French classics - and I wouldn't expect all authors to conform to the view that if you can't describe a scene in three sentences then you're overwriting - it does help the reader if your sentences contain information relevant to the plot, rather than references that namecheck the benefits of a classical education.
There is nothing wrong with classical literature, Latin or florid prose per se, but to read page after page of it, mixed with complex cross-references and frankly juvenile humour is tiresome. No, frankly it is dull.
I picked this book from a list of a 100 books recommended as the best around, irrespective of time, theme, length or other restriction. This book is the only one, thus far, and I'm a fair way through the list, that leads me to bribe that those compiling the list had spent some time imbibing Mescal.
If you enjoy books that quote, exhaustively, Plato, Cicero and make puns such as franticalus articus (bearded tits) then you'll enjoy this book. If you're note a potty-mouthed public schoolboy you'll probably think it a steaming mind fart, to use the author's vernacular.
In short, the worst book I've read in a long time.