If you give no credit thereto, why do not you the same in these jovial new chronicles of mine? Albeit when I did dictate them, I thought upon no more than you, who possibly were drinking the whilst as I was. For in the composing of this lordly book, I never lost nor bestowed any more, nor any other time than what was appointed to serve me for taking of my bodily refection, that is, whilst I was eating and drinking. And indeed that is the fittest and most proper hour wherein to write these high matters and deep sciences: as Homer knew very well, the paragon of all philologues, and Ennius, the father of the Latin poets, as Horace calls him, although a certain sneaking jobernol alleged that his verses smelled more of the wine than oil.
So saith a turlupin or a new start-up grub of my books, but a turd for him. The fragrant odour of the wine, O how much more dainty, pleasant, laughing (Riant, priant, friant.), celestial and delicious it is, than that smell of oil! And I will glory as much when it is said of me, that I have spent more on wine than oil, as did Demosthenes, when it was told him, that his expense on oil was greater than on wine. I truly hold it for an honour and praise to be called and reputed a Frolic Gualter and a Robin Goodfellow; for under this name am I welcome in all choice companies of Pantagruelists. It was upbraided to Demosthenes by an envious surly knave, that his Orations did smell like the sarpler or wrapper of a foul and filthy oil-vessel. For this cause interpret you all my deeds and sayings in the perfectest sense; reverence the cheese-like brain that feeds you with these fair billevezees and trifling jollities, and do what lies in you to keep me always merry. Be frolic now, my lads, cheer up your hearts, and joyfully read the rest, with all the ease of your body and profit of your reins. But hearken, joltheads, you viedazes, or dickens take ye, remember to drink a health to me for the like favour again, and I will pledge you instantly, Tout ares-metys.
Rabelais to the Reader.
Good friends, my Readers, who peruse this Book,
Be not offended, whilst on it you look:
Denude yourselves of all depraved affection,
For it contains no badness, nor infection:
’Tis true that it brings forth to you no birth
Of any value, but in point of mirth;
Thinking therefore how sorrow might your mind
Consume, I could no apter subject find;
One inch of joy surmounts of grief a span;
Because to laugh is proper to the man.
Of the Genealogy and Antiquity of Gargantua.
I must refer you to the great chronicle of Pantagruel for the knowledge of that genealogy and antiquity of race by which Gargantua is come unto us. In it you may understand more at large how the giants were born in this world, and how from them by a direct line issued Gargantua, the father of Pantagruel: and do not take it ill, if for this time I pass by it, although the subject be such, that the oftener it were remembered, the more it would please your worshipful Seniorias; according to which you have the authority of Plato in Philebo and Gorgias; and of Flaccus, who says that there are some kinds of purposes (such as these are without doubt), which, the frequentlier they be repeated, still prove the more delectable.