Le Disciple de Pantagruel (other title: Les Navigations de Panurge), anonymous, was not written by Rabelais. However, its mention amongst para-Rabelaisian texts that reveal the early success of the pantagruelian epic is merited.
The edition proposed by the Bibliothèques Virtuelles Humanistes proceeds from the sole copy preserved at l'École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts of Paris (Les. 697). It does not succeed the copy found at the Public Library of Besançon (Rés. 268744 scanned), another unique copy whose date, circa 1540 according to library documents (based on the critical edition by G. Demerson and C. Lauvergnat-Gagnière 1982, p. LXIV and LXXVI), is not yet unanimously agreed upon.
We have encoded the correction of an often erroneous text with the help of the copy belonging to the National Library of France, another edition of 1538 (Paris, Denis Janot, Rés. Y2 2136, Gallica) and a copy of a 1545 edition at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek of Munich (Paris, Jeanne de Marnef [widow of Denis Janot] Path 1053 #2). Attributing Le Disciple to Rabelais seems definitively ruled out by researchers. On the contrary, in Le Tiers Livre (1546) and Le Quart Livre (1548-52) in which Rabelais borrowed elements from Le Disciple, Rabelais was able to retaliate against the hasty compilation of disparate folk sources that had been falsely attributed to him. The author (Jean d'Abondance, de Pont-Saint-Esprit, or an editorial association) incoherently incorporates giant mythologies, the Land of Cocagne, the fabulous voyages reminiscent of Lucian and harmless satire. This text has often been re-edited in multiple variants. Its deliberately impossible fiction, claiming itself to be the utmost truth, is amusing.
Marie-Luce Demonet, July 2015