The Spanish Picaresque Novel
The publication of Lazarillo de Tormes in 1554 marked a significant point in the development of European narrative. Paralleling its titular protagonist, this short work transgressed a number of boundaries. Lazarillo defies the conventions of the idealistic fiction of the time as it helps to define new forms of realism and advances toward the realist novel of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As demonstrated in Don Quixote, Cervantes seems to have learned a valuable lesson from picaresque narrative (Lazarillo and its successor, Mateo Alemán’s Guzmán de Alfarache) in terms of underscoring process along with product. This chapter focuses on early forms of the picaresque, the creation of a subgenre, the archetypal picaresque narratives (Lazarillo de Tormes, Guzmán de Alfarache, and La vida del buscón), other picaresque narratives of Early Modern Spain, including feminine variations, the picaresque and realism, the picaresque and Cervantes, and the continuity of the picaresque.
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