The late Donald Frame’s new translation of Rabelais is fluent, resourceful, and, I believe, accurate, a scholar’s long labor of love.1 Since few except specialists are at ease in his sixteenth-century French, this holds out the promise of being the standard English Rabelais for a generation or so. A fresh version of a famous book may always raise the question of status, a question that ought to be faced squarely at a time when, with our literary inheritance under attack, we cannot afford the luxury of maintaining the whole traditional canon. Those works that do not powerfully address us should be—not, certainly, discarded, for they may speak again tomorrow, but set to one side, their claim on our attention no longer pressed.

Where does Rabelais stand today? What does he have to offer? To use his...


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