Letter to Guillaume Budé, March 4, 1521


François Rabelais (1494?-1553) was a French Renaissance writer remembered for his comic masterpiece, Gargantua and Pantagruel. This letter is the first known text by Rabelais. It was written in 1521, when Rabelais was a young monk at the Franciscan monastery of Fontenay-le-Comte, and deeply immersed in the study of Greek and the humanities. The letter is addressed to Guillaume Budé, a classical scholar whom Rabelais admired. Intended to attract Budé’s attention and elicit his encouragement, the letter employs the conventional motifs of classical humanism. Rabelais left the cloister in 1530, studied and later practiced medicine, and published the first part of Gargantua and Pantagruel in 1532. The book is the story of two giants, Gargantua, and his son, Pantagruel, and their many adventures, which Rabelais used to satirize the church hierarchy, lawyers, schools and universities, philosophers, and other aspects of the society in which he lived.

Last updated: August 13, 2014