How Panurge showed a very new way to build the walls of Paris  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

How Panurge showed a very new way to build the walls of Paris is the 15th chapter of the second book of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

It is often cited for its proposal to build the city walls of Paris out of vulvae, which Rabelais calls 'callibistrys'.

“I have observed that the pleasure-twats of women in this part of the world are much cheaper than stones, therefore the walls of the city should be built of twats.” --Gargantua and Pantagruel via Rabelais and His World, tr. Jacques LeClercq, 1936

In the Urquhart and Motteux translation:

I see that the sine quo nons, kallibistris, or contrapunctums of the women of this country are better cheap than stones. Of them should the walls be built, ranging them in good symmetry by the rules of architecture, and placing the largest in the first ranks, then sloping downwards ridge-wise, like the back of an ass. The middle-sized ones must be ranked next, and last of all the least and smallest. This done, there must be a fine little interlacing of them, like points of diamonds, as is to be seen in the great tower of Bourges, with a like number of the nudinnudos, nilnisistandos, and stiff bracmards, that dwell in amongst the claustral codpieces. What devil were able to overthrow such walls? There is no metal like it to resist blows, in so far that, if culverin-shot should come to graze upon it, you would incontinently see distil from thence the blessed fruit of the great pox as small as rain. Beware, in the name of the devils, and hold off. Furthermore, no thunderbolt or lightning would fall upon it. For why? They are all either blest or consecrated. [source]


French original

Je voy que les callibistrys des femmes de ce pays, sont a meilleur marché que les pierres, d'iceulx fauldroit bastir les murailles en les arrengeant par bonne symmeterye d'architecture, et mettant les plus grans au premiers rancz, et puis en taluant a doz d'asne arranger les moyens, et finablement les petitz. Puis faire un beau petit entrelardement, a poinctes de diamans comme la grosse tour de Bourges de tant de bracquemars enroiddys qui habitent par les braguettes claustrales. Quel diable defferoit telles murailles? Il n'y a metal qui tant resistast aux coups. Et puis que les couillevrines se y vinsent froter, vous en verriez (par dieu) incontinent distiller de ce benoist fruict de grosse verolle menu comme pluye. Sec au nom des diables Dadvantaige la fouldre ne tumberoit jamais dessus. Car pourquoy? ilz sont tous benists ou sacrez.Je n'y voy q'un inconvenient ho, ho, ha, ha, ha, (dist Pantagruel) Et quel? C'est que les mousches en sont tant friandes que merveilles, et se y cueilleroyent facillement et y feroient leur ordure: et voyla l'ouvrage gasté.

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