Gargantua and Pantagruel
Illustrated by Gustave Doré
Translated by Professor M. A. Screech
Introduced by Stephen Greenblatt
With an essay by Milan Kundera
‘The first building block in the history of the novel’
This superb two-volume set, limited to just 500 hand-numbered copies, replicates Gustave Doré’s masterpiece, hundreds of illustrations for François Rabelais’s seminal text and comic work of genius Gargantua and Pantagruel. All five books are published in two volumes, with a brilliant English translation integrated with the illustrations for the first time. The edition also features a specially commissioned introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Greenblatt and a revised essay by Milan Kundera.
These tales of the giants Gargantua and his son Pantagruel are the greatest prose narrative of 16th-century France. Attacked as obscene by the Sorbonne, Rabelais’s works were nevertheless to be found in the libraries of kings and cardinals. A champion of Renaissance humanism, influenced by Erasmus, Rabelais’s feast of rhetoric offers profound and complex comedy. It parodies scripture, the law and tales of chivalry, and glories in obscenity and bawdy humour. Each book has a distinct personality, but throughout there is a delight in language, an absence of moral censure and an exuberant sense of fun. These are books of ideas told with much merriment and an extravagant freedom that were crucial in the development of Western literature.
Doré’s illustrations are the definitive images for Rabelais’s humanist classic, but the whole body of work, completed over two decades, is rarely seen and has never before been available in its entirety with the text in English. First published in 2006, this renowned translation by Professor M. A. Screech perfectly captures Rabelais’s sublime mastery of language.
François Rabelais was truly a Renaissance man – mendicant, monk and finally secular priest, he was both intellectually brilliant and delighted by the commonplace. His genius was acknowledged in his lifetime and his influence on literature has been enormous ever since. Rabelais was a student of law and a qualified doctor, but his life was anything but straightforward. Despite his vow of chastity, he fathered several children; two who survived infancy were legitimised by the Vatican, so influential were Rabelais’s ecclesiastical supporters. But he was hated by those his humour targeted and risked his life in publishing the books of Gargantua and Pantagruel. It was only the patronage of the powerful – both François I and Henri II protected him – and periods spent abroad or in hiding, that saved him.
Although he became the foremost illustrator of his day, Doré began his work on Gargantua and Pantagruel, for an edition first published in 1854, without a commission. In 1868 he agreed with the publishers Garnier Frères to contribute further illustrations, but it was not until 1873 that the new edition appeared with 61 full-page plates and 658 smaller illustrations. The surreal imagery, the juxtaposition of the plausible and the implausible, the nobility, pathos and clever tricks of scale demonstrate both Doré’s appreciation of the absurd and his superb draughtsmanship. For this Folio Society limited edition, the illustrations have been scanned from originals of the 1873 printing – the first time this brilliant artwork has been seen in its entirety in such stunning detail since then.
The Reverend Professor M. A. Screech
A world authority on the Renaissance, Screech wrote extensively on Rabelais and was promoted Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in recognition of his achievements. Before his death in June 2018, Screech was both a senior research fellow and Chaplain of All Souls College, Oxford.
Limited to 500 numbered copies. Quarter-bound in goatskin leather with cloth sides. Blocked in gold foil on front and spine. Set in Bulmer. Printed on Abbey Pure paper. Two volumes. 1,000 pages in total. 61 full-page engravings. 658 smaller engravings. All illustrations printed at the same size as in the original Garnier Frères edition of 1873. Numerous ornamented initials throughout. Gilded Top Edges and Ribbon Markers. 14¼˝ x 10¼˝. Both volumes presented together in a handmade cloth-bound slipcase printed in gold with designs by Doré.
UK £ 495.00 US $795.00 Can $995.00 Aus $1095.00
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