The Wine and the Will: Rabelais’s Bacchic Christianity by Florence M Weinberg, the 1972 first edition hardcover from Wayne State University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“In a solid contribution to the field of French Renaissance literature, this study follows the trends of criticism initiated by the revolutionary discoveries of Glison, Febvre, and Screech, focusing on two major emblematic aspects of Rabelais’s novels. Using primary Renaissance iconological material, the author reconstructs the processes by which Renaissance authors (and Rabelais) coded their teachings in symbols that were both entertaining and useful to the learned reader of the time.
The author investigates two major Christian and humanistic aspects of Rabelais’s novels which were meant to test the ingenuity of a learned audience. She takes into account Hellenic and Hellenistic traditions of hermetism—numerology and symbolic iconology in their medieval and Renaissance transformations. The study is designed to show how Rabelais, a Renaissance humanist, fuses comic popular and pagan traditions to convey an evangelical Christian message. It reveals hidden meanings of episodes in Rabelais’s work previously dismissed as simply amusing, and conveys how humor and irony combined in ‘folly’ becomes the vehicle for wisdom.
The symbolism of the wine and the will, explored and understood in all its theological and humanistic complexity, deepens our understanding of Rabelais’s work and Renaissance thought in general.”
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