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 seekers with an insatiable thirst for a profound hidden truth. It is for this reason that his two heros, Gargantua and Panatagruel, are such enthousiastic drinkers/searchers as well as why Gargantua immediately cries " À boire! à boire! à boire! " when he is born.
There is yet another reason why Rabelais' characters are so fond of drinking. In the search for these hidden truths, wine plays a pivitol role in breaking the bone that obscures them. Wine has the power to loosen tightly closed lips and to take away bothersome inhibitions in order to liberate a person. It can break the hard outer bone and expose the substantific marrow of someone so that all can see the true person. Nature takes control and there is no alternative but to accept the results. One becomes what one really is. The explosion of reality can lead one to break free and to depass one's limits. Alcohol is therefore an aid in obtaining personnal truth, or, briefly: in vino, veritas.
Lastly, Rabelais praises the benefits of drinking because of its pleasure producing effets. It has the potentiel of giving pleasure and thus forces one accept nature and the corporal nuances of the human body. Being a doctor, Rabelais...