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Gargantua and Pantagruel

Gargantua and Pantagruel is a connected series of five books written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. The first volume was published around 1532; the fifth was published posthumously around 1564 and some consider its attribution to Rabelais debatable. It is the story of two giants, a father (Gargantua) and his son (Pantagruel) and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein.

The introduction to the series runs:

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.

The series in the original French is entitled La Vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel. A widely available English translation is Five Books of the Lives, Heroic Deeds and Sayings of Gargantua and Pantagruel, translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart and Peter Antony Motteux.

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