The evolution of ever more sophisticated communication technologies sharpens our perception of the complex relationship between media-specific techniques and cultural innovation. Contemplation of François Rabelais' novel in terms of the pragmatic situation in which it originated and the media available to its author restores to it the quality of historical difference progressively masked by the role it has played as a touchstones in the generation of modern theories of narrative literature. The study also breaks new ground in the methods it employs. Drawing upon categories of research into oral and written traditions developed in the context of cultural studies, it elaborates a dynamic model which takes the example of 'Gargantua' as a basis for a detailed description of Rabelais' status on the contemporary book market and his literary strategy vis-à-vis the lay written culture of the time and the reading and writing conventions operative within that culture. The study is also significant in resolving a central problem in Rabelais` research. Pointing up for the first time the eminent importance of ars memorativa in Rabelais` literary approach, it provides the key to the otherwise apparently inexplicable construction of the 'abbaye de Thélème'.