Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

af Caricature 
there arofe in the very centre of France a man of great original genius, 
who was foon to altonifh the world by a new form of fatire, more 
grotefque and more comprehenlive than anything that had been Iizen 
before. Teol-ilo Folengo may fairly be confidered as the precurfor of 
Rabelais, who appears to have taken the Italian fatiriit as his model. 
What we know of the life of Francois Rabelais is rather obfcure at bed, 
and is in fome parts no doubt fabulous. He was born at Chiuon in 
Touraine, either in 14.83 or in I487, for this feems to be a difputed point, 
and fome doubt has been thrown on the trade or profeliion of his father, 
but the molt generally received opinion is that he was an apothecary. 
He is faid to have Ihown from his youth a difpofition more inclined to 
gaiety than to ferious purfuits, yet at an early age he had made great 
proficiency in learning, and is faid to have acquired a very fufficient 
knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, two of which, at leait, were 
not popular among the popilhi clergy, and not only of the modern lan- 
guages and literature of Italy, Germany, and Spain, but even of Arabic. 
Probably this eitimate of his acquirements in learning is rather exaggerated. 
It is not quite clear where the young Rabelais gained all this knowledge, 
for he is faid to have been educated in convents and among monks, and 
to have become at a rather early age a Francilcan friar in the convent of 
Fontenai-le-Cotnpte, in Lower Poitou, where he became an object of 
iealoufy and ill.-feeling to the other friars by his fuperior acquirements. 
It was a tradition, at leaft, that the conduct of Rabelais was not very ltrictly 
conventual, and that lie had fo far lhown his contempt for monaftic rule, 
and for the bigotry of the Romifh church, that he was condemned to the 
prifon of his monaftery, upon a diet of bread and water, which, according 
to common report, was very uncongenial with the taftes of this jovial 
friar. Out of this ditiicnlty he is faid to have been helped by his friend 
the bithop of Maillezais, who obtained for him the pope's licence to 
change the order of St. Francis for the much more eafy and liberal order 
of_ St. Benedict, and he became a member of the bi{hop's own chapter in 
the abbey of Maillezais. His unfteady temper, however, was not long 
Iatishcd with this retreat, which he left, and, laying alide the regular 
habit, affumed that ofa fecular prieft. In this character he wandered for 


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