Novel Gargantua Rabelais (1534)
To amuse the little Gargantua, his governesses had the idea to make a turnstile to his size...
Mirebeau, Franklin street (credit Erwan Douroux / Wiki Commons)

“And so that he would have fun like the little children of the country, they made him a beautiful turnstile with the wings of a Mirebeau windmill.”

Gargantua and Pantagruel, volume II, chapter 10 (Rabelais)

When he was a boy, Gargantua was a young man who was not very shy.“This little bawdy boy was always pawing at his governesses, upside down, front and back, bold bourricot!” The character imagined by Rabelais was therefore a true epicurean, was not afraid of anyone and especially liked scatology.

If he pestered the poor housekeepers, they tried to entertain him like other children his age, including making a fidget spinner. As he was already tall and stout, he needed something that would fit him and the only solution was to detach the wings of a windmill. The one chosen was in Mirebeau, a town north of Poitiers.

Rabelais cited more than fifty places in Poitou in the books Pantagruel and Gargantua. Thus after having drunk all the water of the Sèvre in the Deux-Sèvres, the latter sat on the bell tower of Notre-Dame de Niort, he relieved himself and thus created the Marais poitevin. In Poitiers, the first one made a feast on the dolmen of the Pierre levée.

The town of Mirebeau is also evoked in the book in a delicious old French: “Le pinart rencontrant sus la rive frere Adam Couscoil Cordelier observantin de Myrebeau, luy promist un habit en condition qu’il le passast oultre l’eau a la cabre morte sus ses espaules.”

260 418

Gargantua drowned 260 418 people in his urine

Gargantua (Credit: BnF / Wiki Commons)

Place de la République

Country of the donkeys, Mirebeau is a commune of the Vienne (86)

At the crossroads of Anjou, Touraine and Poitou, Mirebeau is a town of a little more than 2 000 inhabitants north of Poitiers.

Famous for its “baudets du Poitou” (donkeys), the town has a saying: “there are more of them than there are left”. It is surrounded by ramparts registered as historical monuments in 1941.

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Pantagruel et Gargantua de Rabelais

Gargantua and Pantagruel

Parodying everyone from classic authors to his own contemporaries, the dazzling and exuberant stories of Rabelais expose human follies with mischievous and often obscene humor. Gargantua depicts a young giant who becomes a cultured Christian knight. Pantagruel portrays Gargantua’s bookish son who becomes a Renaissance Socrates, divinely guided by wisdom and by his idiotic, self-loving companion, Panurge.

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By Damien Canteau

Monday, March 7, 2022

Passionné par l'Histoire, les animés, les Arts et la bande dessinée en particulier, Damien est le rédacteur en chef du site spécialisé dans le 9e art, Comixtrip.

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