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Various: Was Rabelais a Thelemite

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.misc
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Re: Various: Was Rabelais a Thelemite
Date:  5 May 97 21:26:31 GMT


49970505 AA1  Hail Satan!  NULatix!  (Xposted to

[proceeding from private email responding to my Usenet post]

ata :
# You may find the following to be of interest:

I do!  I do!!  I append something I found which relates slightly!  thanks.

# In his important study of Rabelais ("Rabelais & His World"), Bakthin
# strongly argues that Rabelais cannot be understood without an
# understanding of the popular context of his writings. In fact, he says
# that without this contextual knowledge, an understanding of Rabelais is
# impossible. Both Crowley and Sir Walter Besant projects a modern
# world-view onto Rabelais, using the Theleme episode (which only
# constitutes a very small part of Gargantua & Pantagruel) as something
# far more significant to Rabelaisian imagery and philosophy than it is.
# "In reality, Theleme is characteristic neither of Rabelais' philosophy
# nor of his system of images, nor of his style. Though this episode does
# present a popular utopian element, it is fundamentally linked with the
# aristocratic movements of the Renaissance." (p.158)
# Most of the attempts - Crowley's included - to construct Rabelais as a
# predecessor in a religious and philosophical sense as far as thelema is
# concerned, is (probably) based on a misunderstanding of Rabelais, at
# least if one follows Bakthin's arguments. 
# Sir Walter Besant may have been read by Crowley. I haven't found the
# reference mentioned yet. Besant merits interest also because he wrote a
# biography on Rabelais, and was one of the founding members of 'The
# Rabelais Society'. This lasted for a few years, and counted quite few of
# Englands foremost artists and intellectuals among it's members. Besant
# was also one of the founders of the masonic research-lodge "Quator
# Coronati". Both are described briefly in his autobiography, published
# after his death in 1904.

	The voice of satire, like that of skepticism, was faint in the
	early part of the century, with the great exceptions of Nicolo
	Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Francois Rabelais (1494?-1553).
	Rabelais' *Gargantua et Pantagruel* was the first major work
	to present demonic figures who are both sympathetic and even
	justified in their rebellion.  The giant Gargantua and his
	son Pantagruel (whose name is derived from Arnoul Greban's
	medieval mystery play) are comic, secularized demons.  The

	{NOTE: N. Machiavelli, "Belfagor," in A. Gilbert, ed.,
	       _Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others_ (Durham,
	       N.C., 1965), pp. 869-877; F. Rabelais, _Les cinq
	       livres_, 2 vols. (Paris, 1552).  See E. M. Duval,
	       "Pantagruel's Genealogy and the Redemptive Design
	       of Rabelais' Pantagruel," _Publications of the
	       Modern Language Association_, 99 (1984), 162-178;
	       R. Griffin, "The Devil and Panurge," _Studi
	       francesi_, 47/48 (1972), 329-336; R. C. La Charite,
	       "Devildom and Rabelais' Pantagruel," _French Review_,
	       49 (1975), 42-50....}

	most interesting character is Panurge, whose name, "doer of
	all things," suggests the multifaceted personality of the
	Devil.  Like the traditional Devil, Panurge shifts his
	appearance, costume, voice, and manner to fit the situation.
	He had been a student at Toledo, a city known as a center
	of hermetic magic, and there he had worked with the "rector 
	of the faculty of diabology, the Reverend Father Picatris."

	{NOTE: This figure is derived from Picatrix, the name of a
	       historical author of a treatise on magic.  See
	       L. Thorndike, _A History of Magic and Experimental
	       Science_, 8 vols. (New York, 1923-1958), vol. 2,
	       pp. 813-821).}

	Panurge is the prototype of the worldly Mephistopheles in
	the Faust literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth
	centuries: tall, handsome, elegant, and of noble lineage,
	though the observant could discern his demonic origins
	in his pallor, his blemishes, and hsgreat ages of over
	three hundred years.
	_Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World_, by
	  Jeffrey Burton Russell, Cornell University Press,
	  1986; pp. 57-8.

what does this say about Rabelais' context?  probably not much.
what can any of you say?  how does his context twist the meaning
of 'do as you please', for example?  if any care to review the
above-mentioned works on Rabelais, please reflect your experience
of them to us, would you?  as you can see I am off on more demonic
enterprises which only tangentally brush upon Rabelais and his like.
nigris (333) -- --

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