Lecture Series

Rabelais: his life, his work, his time

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The French satirical writer and humanist François Rabelais (La Devinière, c. 1494-Paris, 1553), an observer and critic of his time, has gone down in history for his pentalogy of novels about the giants Gargantua and Pantagruel. These books brought him literary success and several were censored by ecclesiastical authorities. The turbulent life of Rabelais, who served as a monk, priest, physician and diplomat, makes him one of the most important political and intellectual figures of his time. He corresponded with Erasmus, translated Hippocrates and Galen from the Greek, and worked as a doctor, secretary and councillor for cardinals and towns.

The editor and translator of Rabelais’s work, the Emeritus Professor of French Philology at the UNED, Alicia Yllera, will analyse the life and times of the great French writer of the first half of the sixteenth century, a period of important geographical discoveries, cultural rebirth, religious polemics and confrontation between different countries in Western Europe, especially between the French monarchy and the Habsburgs. She will also discuss the peculiarities of his literary output, which stands out for the richness and expressiveness of vocabulary, with a lot of borrowing from colloquial speech and Occitan, as well as the use of comedy and laughter as vehicles for denouncing the social and political concerns of his time.

Lectures in this series