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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Of Medamothi Nowhere to begin with


the Other End of Nowhere. The

"curios," living and other, of Medamothi (Nowhere to begin with!), and the mysterious appearance of a shipful of travellers coming back from the Land of Lanterns, whither the Pantagruelian party is itself bound; the rather too severely punished ill-manners of the sheep-dealer Dindenault; the strange isles of various nature--such, especially, as the abode of the bailiffs and process-servers, which gives occasion to the admirably told story of Francois Villon and the Seigneur of Basche; the great storm--another of the most famous passages of the book--with the cowardice of Panurge and the safe landing in the curious country of the Macreons (long-livers); the evil island where reigns Quaresmeprenant, and the elaborate analysis of that personage by the learned Xenomanes; the alarming Physeter (blowing whale) and his defeat by Pantagruel; the land of the Chitterlings, the battle with them, and the interview and peace-making with their Queen Niphleseth (a passage at which the sculduddery-hunters have worked their hardest), and then the islands of the Papefigues and the Papimanes, where Rabelais begins his most obvious and boldest meddling with the great ecclesiastical-political questions of the day--all these things and others flit past the reader as if in an actual voyage. Even here, however, he rather skirts than actually invades the most dangerous ground. It is the Decretals, not the doctrines, that are satirised, and Homenas, bishop of Papimania, despite his adoration of these forgeries,
and the slightly suspicious number and prettiness of the damsels who wait upon him, is a very good fellow and an excellent host. There is something very soothing in his metaphorical way of demanding wine from his Hebes, "_Clerice_, esclaire icy," the necessary illumination being provided by a charming girl with a hanap of "extravagant" wine. These agreeable if satiric experiences--for the Decretals do no harm beyond exciting the bile of Master Epistemon (who, it is to be feared, was a little of a pedant)--are followed by the once more almost universally known passage of the "Frozen Words" and the visit to "Messer Gaster, the world's first Master of Arts"; by the islands (once more mysterious) of Chaneph (hypocrisy) and Ganabin (thieves); the book concluding abruptly with an ultra-farcical _cochonnerie_ of the lower kind, relieved partially by a libellous but impossible story about our Edward the _Fifth_ and the poet Villon again, as well as by the appearance of an interesting but not previously mentioned member of the crew of the _Thalamege_ (Pantagruel's flagship), the great cat Rodilardus.

[Sidenote: _Pantagruel_ IV. (Book V.) The second part of the voyage. The "Isle Sonnante."]

[Sidenote: The "Chats Fourres."]

One of the peculiarities of the Fifth Book, and perhaps one of those which have aroused that suspicion about it which, after what has been said above, it is not necessary further to discuss, is that it is more "in blocks" than the others.[105] The eight chapters of the _Isle Sonnante_ take up the satire of the Fourth Book on Papimania and on the "Papegaut," who is here introduced in a much fiercer tone--a tone which,


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