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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rabelais: Challenging

I am currently reading Gargantua by Rabelais. Gargantua is the story of a giant and his various adventures, starting from his birth. The language is quite challenging, which is weird because it is a translation. Here is a passage about Gargantua being excited to tell his father about wiping his butt. To give you a taste of this stuff, here is a poem from the work, introduced with "I wiped myself with hay, with straw, with thatch-rushes, with flax, with wool, with paper, but,"


Who his foul tail with paper wipes,
Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.

What, said Grangousier, my little rogue, hast thou been at the pot, that thou dost rhyme already? Yes, yes, my lord the king, answered Gargantua, I can rhyme gallantly, and rhyme till I become hoarse with rheum. Hark, what our privy says to the skiters:

Shittard,
Squirtard,
Crackard,
Turdous,
Thy bung
Hath flung
Some dung
On us:
Filthard,
Cackard,
Stinkard,
St. Antony's fire seize on thy toane (bone?),
If thy
Dirty
Dounby
Thou do not wipe, ere thou be gone.

Will you have any more of it? Yes, yes, answered Grangousier. Then, said Gargantua,

A Roundelay.

In shitting yes'day I did know
The sess I to my arse did owe:
The smell was such came from that slunk,
That I was with it all bestunk:
O had but then some brave Signor
Brought her to me I waited for,
In shitting!

I would have cleft her watergap,
And join'd it close to my flipflap,
Whilst she had with her fingers guarded
My foul nockandrow, all bemerded
In shitting.
Now, just as I'm about to put it down and give up, there is something of the satire that seems to maybe get through. Also, it is fun to read a Paul Bunyon story from the 1500's. Still, I'm not convinced that this book is "great."