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The Picaresque

Tradition and Displacement

1996
Author:

Giancarlo Maiorino

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Brings the insights of contemporary literary and cultural theory to the study of the picaresque.

A landmark work, The Picaresque is the first book to incorporate poststructuralist theory into a comprehensive treatment of picaresque tales written during the Spanish Golden Age. The essays in this volume examine such works as Lazarillo de Tormes, Guzmán de Alfarache, La Lozana andaluza, El buscón, and La pícara Justina.

Contributors: Luis Beltrán, Anne J. Cruz, Nina Cox Davis, Manuel Durán, Edward H. Friedman, Carroll B. Johnson, Howard Mancing, Francisco J. Sánchez, George A. Shipley, Nicholas Spadaccini, Janis A. Tomlinson, Marcia L. Welles.

“The contributors present a fascinating, suggestive, important, and comprehensive overview of the picaresque in Spain. The Picaresque goes beyone the constraints of period and genre, establishing links between art and literature with astounding analogies and witty webs of association.” Frederick A. de Armas, Pennsylvania State University (Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese)

Picaresque tales—parodic narratives relating the adventures of a rogue—have been central to the development of Spanish literature since the time of Cervantes. A landmark work, The Picaresque is the first book to incorporate poststructuralist theory into a comprehensive treatment of such tales written during the Spanish Golden Age .

In picaresque literature, the figure of the rogue or picaro represents a series of tensions and dichotomies-rich/poor, master/servant, city/country. At the edge between begging and earning, work and theft, the picaro represents the “almost-outsider,” the borderline that is characteristic of the genre itself. Picaresque tales place artisans, peasants, beggars, prostitutes, soldiers and merchants at center stage, in marked contrast to the refined characters that people the “literary” writings of the dominant culture.

The essays in this volume examine such works as Lazarillo de Tormes, Guzmán de Alfarache, La Lozana andaluza, El buscón, and La pícara Justina. The contributors address the connection between literary representation and everyday life, examining the context in which the picaresque mode developed, elucidating what these early “anticanonical” works tell us about their culture and later literary production and analyzing how this kind of fiction speaks to the postmodern reader. Wide-ranging in topic and diverse in points of view, The Picaresque is an illuminating consideration of this fascinating genre.

Contributors: Luis Beltrán, Indiana U; Anne J. Cruz, U of Illinois, Chicago Circle; Nina Cox Davis, Washington U; Manuel Durán, Yale U; Edward H. Friedman, Indiana U; Carroll B. Johnson, UCLA; Howard Mancing, Purdue U; Francisco J. Sánchez, U of Iowa; George A. Shipley, U of Washington; Nicholas Spadaccini, U of Minnesota; Janis A. Tomlinson, Columbia U; Marcia L. Welles, Barnard College.


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Giancarlo Maiorino is professor of comparative literature and director of Renaissance studies at Indiana University.

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“The contributors present a fascinating, suggestive, important, and comprehensive overview of the picaresque in Spain. The Picaresque goes beyone the constraints of period and genre, establishing links between art and literature with astounding analogies and witty webs of association.” Frederick A. de Armas, Pennsylvania State University (Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese)