Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Later, Gargantua’s own son, Pantagruel, also goes to Paris to study. He falls into company with Panurge, a brilliant but almost criminal trickster, who explores the seamier side of Parisian life. Although the people of Paris, who are represented realistically in the text, marvel at the giants, they easily accept their presence in their midst.
*Touraine. Region containing the Loire valley in west-central France, the so-called “garden of France,” where Panurge was born and reared. Touraine was also the birthplace of Rabelais himself.
Thélème Abbey. Church along the Loire River, two leagues from the forest of Port-Huault, that Gargantua builds to reward Friar John for his help in winning the mock-heroic war against Picrochole. The abbey is the thematic center of the work, with its credo that instinct forms the only valid basis for morality and social structure. Befitting his gigantic nature, Gargantua’s construction expenses are enormous: millions of gold pieces and English pounds to build and maintain the abbey. The building is hexagonal in shape with a round tower sixty feet in diameter located at each angle of the hexagon. It has six floors, counting its subterranean cellars. The abbey is immense, containing 9,332 suites, each furnished with an antechamber, a private reading room, a dressing room, and a small personal chapel. Beautiful libraries are well stocked with books in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and the Romance languages. Large, open galleries are painted with scenes of ancient heroism, episodes from history, and fascinating plants and animals. In the inner court is a magnificent alabaster fountain featuring statues of the three Graces. Both men and women live at Thélème. In front of the women’s quarters is a playing field (for some game like lawn tennis), a horse-riding circle, a theater, and swimming pools with attached baths. Next to the river is a beautiful pleasure garden with a handsome labyrinth at its center.
Thélème is the exact opposite of the monasteries from which Rabelais was fleeing during most of his adult life. The men and women of Thélème are physically attractive, well born, intelligent, and educated (in contrast to the ugly and socially inept who, Rabelais strongly suggests, usually enter the cloistered life). They dress grandly in bright colors and are constantly attended by perfumers and hairdressers. Men and women mingle freely, ruled only by their own virtue. Should they fall in love, they are encouraged to marry. The constitution of the abbey contains but one clause–“Do what you will.” Within all Rabelais’s writings, Thélème most clearly illustrates his concept of ideal Renaissance society.
*Holy Bottle. Fountain oracle in upper India to which Panurge, Pantagruel, and Friar John go. From Saint Malo, they sail in twelve ships, making the trip in only one month by sailing across the Frozen Sea north of Canada. They have many adventures along their way. On the Island of the Ennasins, they find a race of people with noses shaped like the ace of clubs. People on the Island of Ruach eat and drink nothing but wind. The Ringing Islands contain a strange race of Siticines who long ago turned into birds. On Condemnation Island, they fall into the power of Gripe-men-all, archduke of the Furred Law-cats, and Panurge must solve a riddle before the travelers are freed. When they finally reach the island of the Holy Bottle, they come upon a large vineyard planted by Bacchus himself. They then go down into a deep underground vault to the Holy Bottle.