The Most Fearsome Life of the Great Gargantua, Father of Pantagruel


François Rabelais (circa 1494–1553) published his comic masterpiece Pantagruel, most likely in 1532, under the pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier (an anagram of the author’s real name). Prompted by the immediate success of this work, Rabelais went on to write the life and adventures of Pantagruel’s father, Gargantua. The events of the later book thus take place before those narrated in the first book. The character of Gargantua was already known in popular literature, but Rabelais composed a new tale that reworked the themes of Pantagruel. Through the story of these good-natured and farcical giants, Rabelais celebrated the fight for humanism and the recovery of ancient knowledge. Although written shortly after Pantagruel, Gargantua nevertheless marked a clear evolution in the thought and writing of Rabelais, as he renounced erudite and comic obscurity and clearly asserted his ideal of Christian humanism. The first edition, hastily printed in 1534, contained inconsistencies, in particular typographic inconsistencies, which Rabelais corrected in this edition, which is expressly dated 1535 in the title and which, like the previous edition, was published by François Juste of Lyon. The title contains another pseudonym used by Rabelais, l'abstracteur de quinte essence (the abstractor of the quintessence).

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

François Juste, Lyon


Title in Original Language

La Vie inestimable du grand Gargantua, père de Pantagruel, jadis composée par l'abstracteur de quinte essence


Type of Item

Physical Description

Signed A-N, decorated letters, framed title. 2nd edition

Last updated: November 8, 2011