Monday, 24 August 2009

The cutest little baby face

When we started the Royal Mythological Society page as an adjunct to the main Mirabilis site, we intended it to carry a series of droll, semi-factual monographs in the vein of Borges's El libro de los seres imaginarios.

Writing the notes and queries for Professor Bromfield and Doctor Clattercut soon revealed itself to be more fun, and the monographs petered out. But we still had one that was supposed to tie in with episode 11 in the April 3 issue of the DFC.

Of course, there
was no April 3 issue, as the DFC folded the week before. But as for the RMS monograph on Gargantua (for it was he), c'est ici:


A giant of medieval Gallic legend who lived in the Alsace region. When he was born, his father took one look at him and gasped, “Que grand tu as!” (= “how huge you are”) which gave him his name.

He was a burly baby with (so Rabelais tells us) “about ten chins”. His pram was a cart pulled by oxen and he tore the turf off the village green to use as a comforter. When he was teething, he cried so loud that the weather-vane spun off the church and windows broke in all the neighbouring villages.

In later life he fought for his country. During the siege of Vede Castle he was shot by dozens of cannon balls, but they only lodged in his hair and made him itch. He thought they were lice and brushed them out using a comb made of elephants’ tusks.

At one time, Gargantua came in hungry from a battle and fell on his food so ravenously that he accidentally ate five or six people who were at the dinner table with him. He only noticed they were missing when he finished cramming the food into his mouth. To make matters worse, they were pilgrims. To atone for his sins, Gargantua built an abbey overnight with blocks of stone from the gorges near Strasbourg, where he used to find building blocks to play with as an infant.

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