More About the Books: Rabelais in the Gordon Collection
In 1532, under the pseudonym of Alcofribas Nasier, Rabelais published Pantagruel, a chronicle of the adventures of a race of giants, following popular tales in the chevaleresque tradition. Despite the immediate popularity of Rabelais’s book, the Paris theologians condemned the volume for its overt and implied criticisms of religious authorities and clerical practices. The first edition of Pantagruel was published by Claude Nourry in Lyon, and was followed in the next ten years by a dozen different editions in both Paris and Lyon, including the 1542 edition in the Gordon Collection.
In 1532 or 1533, Rabelais published the Pantagrueline Prognostication, a mock almanach written for the “prouffit & aduisement de gens estourdis & musars de nature,” by Maistre ALCOFRIBAS. Between 1532 and 1534, five editions of the Prognostication by itself were published, followed by four editions of Pantagruel with the Pantagrueline Prognostication between 1537 and 1542. Gordon 1542 .R26 is one of the latter, with the Pantagrueline Prognostication bound separately from Pantagruel, though they were printed as one volume, as is evident from the folio numbers and signatures that continue from one text to the next.
Pantagruel, Roy des Dispodes, restitue a son naturel, : auec ses faictz & prouesses espouentables: / co[m]posez par feu M. Alcofribas abstracteur de quinte essence.
[Lyon] : Francoys Juste, 1542. (16mo)
Note: Pantagrueline Prognostication: leaves -
The two volumes are bound separately in blue morocco with gilt work (binder: Trautz-Bauzonnet). Cited in New Rabelais Bibliography, 12.
In 1534, again using the pseudonym of Maître Alcofribas, Rabelais published Gargantua, which recounts the exploits of Pantagruel’s father. The book appeared in the same year as the infamous “Affaire des Placards,” in which Protestant reformers posted signs denouncing the mass throughout Paris and other cities, and even on the door of the king’s bedchamber. The king’s reaction included the immediate and decisive repression of printers and booksellers and the condemnation of any works or individuals believed to criticize the monarchy and the religious authorities, which included the new book by Rabelais.
The first edition of Gargantua was published in Lyon, by François Juste, in 1534 or early in 1535. Five more editions were published in Lyon between 1534 and 1542, including Gordon 1542 .R25.
La vie treshorrificque du grand Gargantua, pere de Pantagrual / iadis co[m]posee par M. Alcofribas abstracteur de quinte essence. ; Liure plein de Pantagruelisme.
[Lyon] : Francoys Juste, 1542. (16mo)
Bound in red morocco with gilt work (binder: Trautz-Bauzonnet).
Cited in New Rabelais Bibliography, 23
In 1543, the Paris Faculty of Theology once again condemned Gargantua and Pantagruel, despite Rabelais’s attempts to soften or mask his satirical stance by replacing the offensive terms “sorbonagre” and “sorbonicole” with the more neutral “sophiste.” Nevertheless, in 1545, Rabelais received permission from the king to publish more tales of Pantagruel. The Tiers Livre followed in 1546, published in the author’s own name and dedicated to Marguerite de Navarre , sister of Francis I, and known supporter of religious reform.
In the third book, Pantagruel and Panurge consult a series of experts and religious seers in an attempt to determine whether or not Panurge should marry. The world of the giants disappears, and Panurge becomes a less comic figure as he seeks certainty in the face of a constantly changing world. Once again the Paris Faculty of Theology condemned the work. The first edition of the Tiers Livre was published in Paris by Chrestien Wechel in 1546. Nine other editions appeared in Lyons, Paris, and Toulouse, between 1546 and 1552, including Gordon 1552 .R258, published in Paris by Michel Fezandat.
Le tiers liure des faicts et dicts heroïques du bon Pantagruel: / Composé par M. Fran. Rabelais docteur en Medicine. Reueu, & corrigé par l'Autheur, sus la censure antique. / L'autheur susdict supplie les Lecteurs beneuoles, soy reseruer a rire au soixante & dixhuytiesme liure.
Paris : Michel Fezandat, 1552. (8vo)
Extensively annotated; Tipped in notes give provenance. All of the notes are included in the digital gallery (facsimile) of this book.
Identified as a copy of NRB 36 by Madame Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer. (The 1st item listed in “other copies” of NRB 36 — identified through sale catalogues — is in fact the copy now in the Douglas Gordon Collection and available in digital facsimile.)
Books 4 and 5 relate the mock epic sea voyage of Pantagruel and Panurge to consult the “oracle de la Dive bouteille,” which they hope will provide the definitive answer to Panurge’s question about marriage (following their fruitless consultations with learned men and seers).
A partial edition of the 4th book appeared in 1548, followed by four other editions of the short version in the same year. The complete Quart Livre was first published in Lyon in 1552 by Michel Fezendat. The Gordon Collection includes a copy of this edition (Gordon 1552 .R26), as well as a copy of the Parisian piracy of this edition, published by the fictitious printer, Jean Chabin (Gordon 1552 .R26b no. 1).
Le quart liure des faicts et dicts heroiques du bon Pantagruel. / Composé par M. François Rabelais docteur en Medicine.
A Paris : De l'imprimerie de Michel Fezandat ..., 1552. (8vo)
This copy does not include the ‘Briefve declaration’ that was bound in some copies of this edition.
Cited in New Rabelais Bibliography, 45. NRB reports that this copy in the Douglas Gordon Collection was bound for Comte de Lurde in lemon morocco, cyphers, ornate spine, dentelles, by Trautz-Bauzonnet.
The first 16 chapters of Book 5 were published as L’isle sonnante in 1562, nine years after the author’s death. The complete Cinquiesme Livre was first published in 1564. Scholars debate the authenticity of the last book, which was probably based on a draft written by Rabelais, but assembled and edited by others. Four editions of the Cinquiesme Livre by itself were published in 1564 and 1565, including the edition published in Lyon in 1565, represented by Gordon 1564 .R25 no.2 (bound with the Oeuvres of 1564).
The collected Oeuvres
The first five editions of the collected Oeuvres (published between 1553 and 1564) contained only the first four books. Gordon 1553 .R25 represents the first of these editions of the Oeuvres, published in 1553. Gordon 1564 .R25 no. 1 represents the last of these editions of the Oeuvres containing only the first four books.
Gordon 1552 .R65b no. 2 is the Cinquiesme Livre (only) from the 1567 edition of the complete collected Oeuvres, the second of the editions that include all five books. A list of the 16th-century copies of the Cinquiesme Livre, and Oeuvres in the Gordon Collection follows, in the order in which they are identified in Screech and Rawles’ impressive reference, A New Rabelais Bibliography:
|Gordon 1564 .R25 no.2
Le cinquiesme et dernier liure des faicts et dicts heroïques du bon Pantagruel, appellé vulgairement l'Isle Sonnante: / composé par m. François Rabelais, Docteur en medecine. ; Auquel est contenu la uisitation de l'Oracle de la diue Bacbuc, & le mot de la bouteille: pour lequel auoir, est entrepris tout ce long uoyage. Nagueres mis en lumiere, & de nouueau reueu & corrigé.
Lyon : [s.n.], 1565. (16mo)
Cited in: New Rabelais Bibliography, 57.
Bound in vellum by Lobstein, to match the accompanying volume (Oeuvres, Lyons, 1564).
Gordon 1553 .R25
Les oeuures de m. Francois Rabelais Docteur en Medecine, : contenans la vie, faicts & dicts heroiques de Gargantua, & de son filz Panurge: : auec la Prognostication Pantagrueline.
[Paris? : s.n.], 1553. (16mo)
Note: First collected edition published under the title Oeuvres.
Cited in: New Rabelais Bibliography, 58.
Fine brown leather binding, gilt edgting, signed: THIBARON-JOLY.
Gordon 1564 .R25 no.1
Les oeuures de m. Francois Rabelais Docteur en Medecine. : co[n]tena[n]s la vie, faits & dits heroiques de Gargantua, & de son filz Pantagruel. : Auec la Prognostication Pantagrueline.
Lyon : [s.n.], 1564. (16mo)
Note: In case with: Le cinquiesme et dernier liure ... ( Lyon, 1565).
Cited in: New Rabelais Bibliography, 62.
Bound in vellum with gilt work, by Lobstein.
Gordon 1552 .R26b no.2
Les oeuures de Maistre François Rabelais, docteur en medecine : contenant cinq liures de la vie, faits & dits heroïques de Gargantua, & de son fils Pantagruel : plus, La pronostication Pantagrueline, auec l'oracle de la diue Bacbuc, & le mot de la bouteille : de nouueau veu & augme[n]té de ce qui s'ensuit outre les autres impressio[n]s ... / le tout par M. François Rabelais.
Lion: Iean Martin, 1567. (16mo)
Note: Book 5 has special t.p.: Le cinquiesme et dernier liure des faits heroïques du bon Pantagruel.
Note: Gordon copy has only part 5 (149,  p. Signatures A-K*)
Bound with: Le quart liure des faicts & dicts heroiques du bon Pantagruel (Lyon: Iehan Chabin [ Paris, s.n.], 1552).
Cited in: New Rabelais Bibliography, 64 .