Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Lazarillo de Tormes
Lazarillo de Tormes (lah-sah-REE-yoh deh TOHR-mehs), so named because he was born in a mill over the River Tormes. Bereaved at an early age by the death of his father, Lazarillo is given by his impoverished mother to his first master, a blind beggar whose cruelty is precisely the kind of education the unfortunate lad needs to remove his naïvete and prepare him to exist in a cruel world that promises only hardships for him. Treated cruelly, Lazarillo learns all the tricks of providing himself with food and drink. Becoming sharp and witty, although keeping his good nature, he develops the ability to please people and impress them. He is a kindhearted, generous lad, though his environment might well train him in the opposite direction. He is what may be best described as one of nature’s gentlemen. Given an opportunity by a kindly chaplain, Lazarillo settles down to an honest career as a water carrier. A diligent worker, he saves enough money to become respectable. Another friend, the archpriest of St. Savior’s Church in Toledo, provides Lazarillo with an opportunity to marry an honest and hardworking woman who gives her husband no trouble, though gossip, until silenced by Lazarillo, tries to make out that the young woman is the archpriest’s mistress. By his wit, competence, and industry, Lazarillo thrives and becomes a government inspector of wines at Toledo, a post that provides him with comfort and self-respect, if not affluence or great honor.
Antonia Pérez Goncales
Antonia Pérez Goncales (ahn-TOH-nyah PEH-rehs gohn-SAH-lehs), Lazarillo’s mother. A good but poor woman, she faces adversity following the death of her husband. To help her keep alive and provide for her small son, she takes...
(The entire section is 781 words.)
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Alter, Robert. Rogue’s Progress: Studies in the Picaresque Novel. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965. Discusses several picaresque novels, beginning with Lazarillo de Tormes, and (by stretching the meaning of “picaresque”) traces the form’s survival into the twentieth century.
Bjornson, Richard. The Picaresque Hero in European Fiction. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977. An expansive survey of picaresque literature in Spain, Germany, England, and France. Declares that Lazarillo de Tormes’ author was among the first to realize “the novel’s potential as a serious form of literary expression.”
Deyermond, A. D. “Lazarillo de Tormes”: A Critical Guide. London: Grant & Cutler in association with Tamesis Books, 1975. Discusses the novel in its social and religious context, and analyzes the novel’s structure, style, and imagery. Indispensable. Annotated bibliography.
Dunn, Peter N. The Spanish Picaresque Novel. Boston: Twayne, 1979. Surveys the birth of the form with Lazarillo de Tormes and its growth in Spain until the first half of the seventeenth century. Also discusses the many sequels to the short novel that appeared after its publication.
Fiore, Robert L. Lazarillo de Tormes. Boston: Twayne, 1984. A starting point for the general reader. Devotes a chapter to the novel’s disputed authorship and concludes by praising the novel as being “universal in scope.” Chronology, annotated bibliography.