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Gargantua is a giant which has been popularized by French author, François Rabelais.

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Illustration by Gustave Doré, 1873.



Gargantua and Pantagruel is a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. It is the story of two giants, a father (Gargantua) and his son (Pantagruel) and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein. There is much crudity and scatological humor as well as a large amount of violence. Long lists of vulgar insults fill several chapters.

Some scholars pretend that Gargantua is of Celtic origin given the large number of megalithic monuments to which is attached the name of Gargantua. However, no one has ever yet produced a written passage or any ancient testimony to prove the existence of the name before Rabelais.


Rabelais's giants are not described as being of any fixed height, as in the first two books of Gulliver's Travels, but vary in size from chapter to chapter to enable a series of astonishing images as though these were tall tales. For example, in one chapter Pantagruel is able to fit into a courtroom to argue a case but in another the narrator resides inside Pantagruel's mouth for 6 months and discovers an entire nation living around his teeth.


Gargantua spends every day eating, drinking, fucking, and vomiting.


  • The series in the original French is entitled La Vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel. Available English translations include The Complete Works of François Rabelais by Donald M. Frame and Five Books of the Lives, Heroic Deeds and Sayings of Gargantua and Pantagruel, translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart and Pierre Antoine Motteux.
  • Mikhail Bakhtin (1941) Rabelais and his world, Bloomington, Indiana University Press.
  • Clark, Katerina, and Michael Holquist. Mikhail Bakhtin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.
  • Holquist, Michael. Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World, Second Edition. Routledge, 2002.

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