This study explores historical and linguistic aspects of Rabelais’ invented catalog for the Library of the Abbey of St. Victor. Contrasting the fictional catalog with an actual catalog of St. Victor’s, it examines why this Abbey was such an apt target, and shows ways in which Rabelais’ catalog explodes concerted efforts by influential scholastics associated with St. Victor’s to corral knowledge into classified schemes. It further offers a linguistic analysis of Rabelais’ mocking of the convention of titling, whose importance had surged with the arrival of mechanized printing. All of these considerations are viewed in the light of the chapter’s structure, and the metaphor of the codpiece, where representations – the Abbey of St. Victor, for example, or any title – may or may not accurately portray what purports to be represented. The linguistic analysis, showing the interdependence of title and titled, and leading back to Rabelais’ affinity for ideas found in Plato’s Cratylus, suggests that Rabelais, holding a view of a slippery linguistic continuity between inner and outer, had found in the convention of titling, not only a ripe target for resounding satire, but a means to convey a profound insight into the nature of language. This thesis was awarded the University of Hawaii’s Chancellor’s Graduate Research Award.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/bbodemer/1/