François Rabelais : biography
François Rabelais was born in a small French town Chinon. Biographers are at variance who his parents were – father was presumably a tavern keeper, a pharmacist or a famous lawyer. The boy’s mother died early, another version claims that she sent the child to the monastery when he was little.
At the age of ten François entered a Franciscan monastery where he received the elementary education. Rabelais became a monk but it contradicted his nature – he didn’t take asceticism, fanaticism and monks’ lecherous life. But this experience provided him with the material about future satirical monks’ portrayal.
By authority of Roman Pontiff Rabelais went over to the Benedictine order, soon he started to study medicine and entered the medicine department of Montpellier University. In two years Rabelais got a bachelor degree and became a medical practitioner. Then he moved to Lyons where he continued his medical studies. Approximately at this time in 1532 Rabelais wrote and published his first novel about Gargantua. He was afraid of prosecution and he signed the book as Alcofribas Nasie – the anagram of his name.
Then Rabelais moved to Rome with the embassy of King Francis as a secretary of Cardinal du Bellay. In Rome he continued writing his books and when he returned to Lyons the second part of the Gargantua series – about Gargantua’s father Pantagruel – was published. In this book he recounted his impressions about Italy and Roman Pontiff’s court.
Rabelais’ books became very popular and they were forbidden by the Inquisition which knew the real name of the author. With the help of his friend du Bellay Rabelais managed to escape the Inquisition and was permitted to become a doctor of medicine. Besides the King allowed him to publish his books, and in 1542 the unabridged edition of Rabelais’ compositions was published. In these books Rabelais made fun not only of Italy but of the French court too. At this time the Inquisition couldn’t take no notice to this fact, and Rabelais had to hide in a German town Metz. Before moving to Metz he left a manuscript of his next book whish was published in 1548.
With the help of a protector Rabelais managed to settle in Meudon near Paris and become a parish priest. In Meudon he wrote the next book which appeared in 1552 and caused new series of criticism, denunciations and persecutions. Rabelais moved to Lyons then returned to Paris and brought his last book which was published after the writer’s death.
Rabelais died on the 9th of April in 1553 in Paris because of the heart disease.
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