Painting of François Rabelais.

François Rabelais

(1494 - 1553)

Interested in classically oriented humanism, François Rabelais grew disaffected by monastic life in 1524 after his and a friend’s Greek books were seized by superiors. He joined the medical faculty at the University of Montpellier in 1530 and two years later published—under the anagrammatic pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier—the first of his four books that would be collected as Gargantua and Pantagruel. At least two of the books were condemned for heresy by the Sorbonne. The word “Rabelaisian” first appeared in English in a preface to the works of novelist Laurence Sterne: “He decently lived a becoming ornament of the Church, till his Rabelaisian spirit…immersed him into the gaieties and frivolities of the world.”

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What harm is there in getting knowledge and learning, were it from a sot, a pot, a fool, a winter mitten, or an old slipper? 

—François Rabelais, 1533

Keep running after a dog, and he will never bite you.

—François Rabelais, 1535

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