Father Figures: Genealogy and Narrative Structure in Rabelais

Father Figures: Genealogy and Narrative Structure in Rabelais

Father Figures: Genealogy and Narrative Structure in Rabelais

Father Figures: Genealogy and Narrative Structure in Rabelais

Excerpt

Recent Rabelais scholarship has for the most part taken a decidedly conservative turn, continuing the important archaeological work of uncovering this encyclopedic author's classical sources. Other critics have sought to read Rabelais as a Christian philosopher and have provided increasingly coherent interpretations of the first four books. Many alternative approaches—psychoanalytic, feminist, poststructuralist, Marxist—have proved fascinating but partial in their scope. My approach differs from all these first in that it contextualizes the narrative structure of the work in terms of an overall Renaissance thematics. It also takes all five books as its object of study, not to affirm the authenticity of the fifth book, but to demonstrate the text's affinity with and inheritance of medieval quest literature and to explore the connection between the questions of the text and its outcome, or closure, in the arrival at Bacbuc's temple of the Holy Bottle.

In a general sense, the return to origins implies a concern for ends. A genealogy, as a work of fantasy or fiction, represents the desire to locate and fix (spatially, as on a heraldic tree, as well as temporally) one's lineage, and thus it indicates . . .

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