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The Franciscan monk, humanist and physician Francois Rabelais, who flourished in sixteenth-century France, is widely considered as the Renaissance's greatest comic writer. His work - including most notably Gargantua and Pantagruel - continues to enthral readers with its complex and delicately crafted humour. 'Rabelaisian' and 'Gargantuan' have entered the lexicon but are often misunderstood; this Companion explains the literary and historical reality behind these notions. It provides an accessible account of Rabelais' major works and the contextual information and conceptual tools needed to understand the author and his world. The most up-to-date book on Rabelais to be designed specifically for English-speaking audiences, the Companion is intended to enable a broad spectrum of readers both to appreciate and to enjoy Rabelais. With a detailed guide to further reading and a chronology, and with all quotations given in translation, this is an ideal guide for students and scholars of French and comparative literature.