François Rabelais

You may be asking, “Who the hell is François Rabelais?” I would have said the same thing had I not read Looking for Alaska by John Green, where he used Rabelais’ last words as one of the center themes for the novel (oh, and the protagonist’s hobby just happened to be researching the last words of every person he could find). Apparently Rabelais was a French Renaissance writer, doctor, scholar, etc., but his last words are what intrigue me. They were: “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”

Of course, when someone is dying, they can always hope to ascend to green pastures and blue skies, or to wake up in a new life in their ideal form, or maybe just to lie peacefully six feet underground with the dirt and grubs. However, no one really knows what’s about to happen. I believe Rabelais’ words are not only an accurate statement of what may be coming, they are also a beautiful choice of words. He doesn’t overemphasize the “Great,” which leaves the options of death open, in that it may be great… or greatly terrible. I also like “Perhaps” as a noun because it’s a term that gives no definitive answer and leaves countless options open for whatever is in his future. I also like that he’s “seeking” the Great Perhaps, and not just being passive about his death. François Rabelais may not have been a superstar in the Renaissance, but he got it right in the end.

3 thoughts on “François Rabelais

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  2. Erin Glocke

    I don’t know anything about Looking for Alaska or François Rabelais, but this has definitely made me consider maybe looking into both since that is such a powerful quote. I think it’s interesting that usually people try to figure out or create some idea of what’s going to happen to them after death, seeing as the unknown is such an uncomfortable concept for almost everyone. Rabelais shows a lot of courage and wisdom to just kind of say “whatever’s going to happen is going to happen, and not only do I accept it, I’m going to strive for it.” I think this concept can be useful to those of us still living as a motivation to take life as it is and not be afraid of the things we don’t understand; that we should even make efforts to try new things. It’s a really liberating idea. I like it a lot.

  3. Emma Roudabush

    I LOOVEEEE Looking for Alaska and I also love quotes (doesn’t need to be last words, but there is something romantic about them). I like that Rabelais said “Great Perhaps” and not heaven or purgatory or the great spirit. I feel like he leaves it open to interpretation and that it could be something bigger than all religious thought of afterlife. It doesn’t even feel like he is dying, but just going on another adventure.

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