Drinking and the Dive Bouteille in Antonine Maillet's play Panurge
In her play, Les drôlatiques, horrifiques et épouvantables aventures de Panurge, ami de Pantagruel d'après Rabelais, Antonine Maillet recreates beautifully the fantastic and incredible atmosphere present in the original works of Rabelais. She cuts and pastes together the most well known and exceptional selections of Rabelais' original text and creates a new story, adding along the way some finishing touches which give the play its Acadien content. One of the themes quite prevalent throughout in the original works is that of drinking and the insatiable pantagruelist thirst. Maillet preserves this distinctly rabelaisian caracteristic in her play and also uses the plot of the search for the Dive Bouteille, the Holy Bottle, the suject of Rabelais' Le Tiers Livre, Le Quart Livre, and especially Le Cinquième Livre.
In Rabelais' second novel, Gargantua, the author begins the text with a Prologue in which he clearly states that his writing is destined specifically to drinkers and free lovers, " Buveurs très illustres et vous, vérolés très précieux (c'est à vous, à personne d'autre que sont dédiés mes écrits) ". His works are for those who drink freely and greatly, for those who are thirsty. The drink, however, is not limited to the alcohol which is highly praised on the surface, but is also an elixir containing knowledge; for, in the works of Rabelais, nothing is as it seems. Rabelais challenges his readers to " rompre l'os et sucer la substantifique moelle " of his textes. One could thus conclude that his buveurs très illustres are in reality s...
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...saying that the bottle's filter is the eternel youth of an antique civilisation. She means that the Acadien people protect the bottles wine with their young and free spirit.
Throughout the rest of Maillet's play, the characters partake in spontaneous outbursts of drinking and celebration, maintaining thus the tone of cheer and joie de vivre present in all of Rabelais' original five novels.
According to Rabelais, the way to the truth of the substantive marrow of his works and the marrow of life is by a river of wine. In her play, Panurge, ami de Pantagruel, Antonine Maillet preserves this all important premise that dominates Rabelais' original works from which she draws her inspiration. This element gives the play its distinctly rabelaisian atmosphere and contributes to the general feeling of lightheartedness that is prevalent throughout the play.
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