Picaresque Literature of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

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Edward H. Friedman (essay date 1987)

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SOURCE: Friedman, Edward H. “The Voiceless Narrator: The Spanish Feminine Picaresque and Unliberated Discourse.” In The Antiheroine's Voice: Narrative Discourse and Transformation of the Picaresque, pp. 69-94. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987.

[In the excerpt which follows, Friedman focuses on La lozana andaluza and La pícara Justina as examples of the distinct type of picaresque narrative that features female heroes.]

Men, in determining the “acceptable” values and assumptions (which include the inferior status of women), subject women to experiences that men are not subjected to; but men's language structure does not include the ready means for women to express the thoughts and behavior that result from their subjugation.

Cheris Kramarae, Women and Men Speaking

A salient feature of narrative is its paradoxical resistance to historicist principles. As narrative forms proceed historically through time, they both expand the recourses of earlier texts and validate the presence of the new—the novel—in their predecessors. Don Quijote stands as a monument to the synchronic backdrop of intertextuality and to the defiant chronology of narrative development. The absurd and counterhistoric temporal scope of Cervantes's novel underscores, perhaps precognitively, the interplay between history and fiction and the powers and limitations of the verbal sign. Don Quijote erects barriers between the real and the imaginary; it establishes categories of experience and writing before theories of history and literature legitimize such distinctions. Don Quijote reacts to nineteenth-century narrative realism over two centuries before European literary realism takes hold, and it challenges narrative presuppositions from the perspective of author, narrator, character, and reader. Practice encompasses theory, and theory raises rather than answers questions. The problem of truth and the amplification of perspective foreground the self-conscious literary object as a microcosm turned macrocosm, a system of devices that uses artifice to seek essence. By placing himself in the work—by fictionalizing himself—Cervantes acknowledges the comprehensive nature and the inverted hierarchy of his narrative performance. The irony of his vision points forward to twentieth-century skepticism and backward to the discursive strategies of picaresque narrative, in which an implied authorial presence directs language and event. The feminine variations of the picaresque offer new patterns of discourse while forming the basis for further transformations of the model. Quite fittingly, they also anticipate the dialectical discourse and rhetorical effects of the picaresque archetypes.

Borrowing from the tension between stated intention and uncompliant text (and between the author and his alter ego) in the Libro de Buen Amor, the early writers of picaresque fiction project ambiguity on various levels of narration. The doubling of the author and narrator in the prologue of Lazarillo de Tormes initiates the relationship between implied author and narrator/protagonist that regulates the irony of the text proper. The prologue speaks, without transition, of a book to be judged by a reading public and an explanatory manuscript with a readership of one. Lázaro himself is both man and boy, writer and character, participant and observer. From the standpoint of discourse, he is unreliable and reliable, because the authorial figure encodes the text with fixed patterns of irony and revelations of truth that betray Lázaro's defensive rhetoric. Guzmán de Alfarache heightens rhetoric and defense by moving the explanation to a spiritual plane. Guzmán's text is a confession in the double sense, the story of a professed conversion presented through the discourse of a repressed individual. The separation of episode and moral digression establishes the opposing sides of a narrative competition in which the reader may accept or reject the penitential stance. To read Guzmán de Alfarache is to determine priorities, to validate the narrator's redemption or to expose the unredeemed self....

(This entire section contains 15731 words.)

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Authorial control becomes more prominent inEl Buscón. The intensification of language, the identifying sign of a baroque stylist rather than of a narrative novice, finds an analogue in the incriminating discourse and fatalistic events of the text. Quevedo announces his presence verbally, in technical and rhetorical terms; neither the words nor their message belong entirely to Pablos. The idiolect, the negative determinism, and the implicit denial of upward mobility mark the intrusion of the creator in his creation, to oppose and ultimately to silence the narrator.

Just as Don Quijote makes the process of composition a part of the narrative product, the archetypal picaresque novels allow particular strategies of storytelling to guide message production. The markers of discursive play set opposing systems into motion. The dual direction of the prologue in Lazarillo de Tormes, the division between narrative and commentary in Guzmán de Alfarache, and linguistic self-consciousness in El Buscón suggest a dialectical chain of connections that unite discourse, story, and signification. The premise of each work—Lázaro's explanation of the case, Guzmán's indictment of sin following his conversion, and Pablos's record of his entry into the world of crime—leads to a possible counterargument that would redefine the focus of the work. Lázaro's ascent in society may, in fact, be a descent into complacent depravity, Guzmán may be a hypocrite instead of a convert, and Pablos may adopt a bold tone to camouflage his shame. The narrators as pawns of the authors, real and implied, function as analogues of the individual at the mercy of a regimented society, but the literary space grants the narrator a forum that society does not provide and that an author cannot completely dominate. The discursive structure ironically features variations on the theme of silence, specifically attempts on the part of the narrator to conceal the truth and on the part of the (implied) author to discredit or render problematic the words of the speaker. The ironic consequence is a duplication of narrative voice, which adds a richness of ambiguity and a subtext for speech and social acts.

The earliest of the male picaresque forms secularize the spiritual confession to delineate a character who confronts society and the blank page. Lázaro breaks a protective silence to publicize his disgrace, as the speaker in the first part of the prologue alludes to honor attained in the pursuit of the arts. While boasting of his newly acquired prosperity, Lázaro stresses the importance of silence (and figurative blindness) in the honor-obsessed Spain of his time. Rather than remove him from the preoccupations of his countrymen, his words seem to concede his faith in the power of illusion. The narrative continually reiterates the contradictory force of its existence. Unity comes not so much from the execution of the narrative premises as from the ironic correspondences and “unconscious” revelations of the text. Guzmán links the sacred and the profane in an attempt to negate a sinful past through contrast with a calculatedly exemplary present. To give credence to the earnestness of Guzmán's conversion, the reader must take him at his word and ignore to some extent the comprehensive impact of his words. The discourse of Guzmán de Alfarache subtly belies the stated intention and the avowed repentance. Between the adventures of the pícaro and the moral lessons of the reformed sinner lie the thoughts (made public) of one made bitter by his rejection by God and his fellow man. This psychic middle ground disrupts the balance created by the textual division to favor the sinner over the would-be saint and a rhetoric of discord and resentment over a language of inner peace. In El Buscón, the extended verbal conceits announce the presence of an extranarrative mediator who makes his way into the story by controlling causality as well as discourse. Pablos publicizes his dishonor through words not fully his own, and a fate guided by the implied author conspires to deny him escape from the past. The connecting threads of the narrative relate to the superstructure of linguistic and situational determinism.

The doubling effect, characterized by irony of discourse and circumstance, brings into question the concept of an objective reality or of absolute values. The narrative mirrors the dilemma of man before nature, society, and fate, only partially in control of the events that beset him. While the literary vehicle privileges him, the authorial figure compromises his autonomy at every turn. Message systems interact and at times contradict each other, finding an order of sorts in the evasive syntheses and ironic patterns of narration. When a female protagonist replaces the male, the distance between empathy and contrivance increases. Women do not necessarily sound like women, nor do authors always give them a voice in the narrative. The precariousness and inequality of their social roles are reflected in literary works that often reduce feminism to the status of motif. Male authors bring women into the domain of the picaresque without giving them freedom of speech and without liberating them from the constraints of their social inferiority. The female rogues achieve a degree of success by plotting against men, but society at large, if not the individual, avenges their deviation from behavioral norms. The pícaras face despair, unhappy marriages, and even death for their tricks and for their rebellion. The texts that portray their lives marginate them from discourse. Their stories are immoral yet entertaining interludes in the male-oriented scheme of things, and their creators undermine their words as society undermines their actions. Like their male counterparts, the female protagonists achieve an identity in spite of the factors that work against them, and some manage to escape the silence that threatens their discursive authority.

A beauty and an enigma of the picaresque trajectory is the generic consciousness of writers, narrators, readers, and critics, ranging from mythic to socio-historical, from moral and conceptual to purely formal considerations. The feminine picaresque, with its inherent need for modification of the model, lends itself to the study of the “readings” (and anticipation) of the picaresque archetypes by those authors who choose to present antiheroines. The pícara is an orphan, an outsider, a trickster, whose story relies on an episodic structure and a system of poetic justice based on the social status quo. The incipient psychological realism of the Lazarillo, the Guzmán, and the Buscón counts less in these readings than the re-creation of antisocial events to conform to the female characters. Discursive mediation becomes more evident in the presentation of women's lives. The external self—the male view of the opposite sex—dominates the narratives, which nonetheless bespeak woman's place in society and in the text. The discourse contains a number of voices, one of which belongs to the protagonist. Her confrontation with competing voices offers a key to the production of meaning, as well as a social statment.

The dialogic format of Francisco Delicado's La lozana andaluza links the work to the tradition of Fernando de Rojas's La Celestina (1499, 1502), with its emphasis on verbal portraiture and social panorama. Significantly, however, La lozana andaluza points forward to the picaresque mode through an ambiguous prologue, rich in moral intention and challenged by the text proper, and through a doubling of the author, who becomes a character and commentator in Lozana's story. As the object of story and discourse, the protagonist acts and interacts with those around her. As a participant in the dialogue, she develops a voice to complement (and perhaps to rectify) the descriptive and narrative components of the text. In La pícara Justina, Francisco López de Ubeda foreshadows the linguistic intricacies of Quevedo's Buscón with a voice-over that puts morality at the service of the written word. The baroque idiolect subordinates self-revelation to diversion, accentuating the role of the implied author over the delineation of Justina's inner being. The intertextual motive for the artistic display—and the target of López de Ubeda's moral indolence—is Alemán's Guzmán de Alfarache. In Alonso Jerónimo de Salas Barbadillo's La hija de Celestina, the authorial figure once again becomes the agent of morality. The narrative commentary, the chronology, and the intervention of fate adhere to a moral order that occupies more narrative space than weight of conviction. Death looms in the background (and in the foreground of narration) for Elena the sinner, the victim of an ignoble heredity, a corrupt environment, and a third-person narrator who gives her little opportunity to speak for herself.

The movement from La lozana andaluza to La hija de Celestina gives priority to entertainment, instruction, and feminism, generally in that order. The carnivalesque world of inversion and wish-fulfillment informs the feminine picaresque, despite its antifeminist subtext of social hierarchies and male superiority. Alonso de Castillo Solórzano draws on the picaresque models for plot and form, while avoiding a certain ambivalence of discourse. The archetypes are models rather than myths, and discourse is no longer an end in itself. The evidence is a first-person perspective in Teresa de Manzanares that changes only slightly in the shift to the third person in La garduña de Sevilla. As a unit, the antiheroines' narratives cover the discursive range of their brother works. They become counterfictions when the differentiated voices of the texts convey a sense of variation and sexual consciousness, when the female presence begins to affect the production of meaning. The semiotic (and economic) system associated with these women is the body, a visual and sexual commodity. Their tricks and their words depend on desirability, and the transition from object to subject illustrates the tenuous interiority of the female character. To a degree the texts define identity in negative terms or in terms of what is left unsaid. Discourse becomes a literary response to a social question.


Lozana: Mirá, dolorido, que de aquí adelante que “sé cómo se baten las calderas,” no quiero de noche que ninguno duerma comigo sino vos, y de día, comer de todo, y d'esta manera engordaré, y vos procurá de arcarme la lana si queréis que teja cintas de cuero. Andá, entrá, y empleá vuestra garrocha. Entrá en coso, que yo's veo que venís “como estudiante que durmió en duro, que contaba las estrellas.”

Look here, heartsick boy, as of now “I know how to stir the cauldron,” and I don't want anybody to sleep with me at night but you, and in the daytime, I want to eat some of everything, and in this way I'll fatten myself up, and you'd better check out the territory if you want me to get some hides under my belt. Come on, enter, and employ your spear. Enter the ring, for I can see that you're approaching “like the student who slept on a hard bed, the one who was reaching for the stars.”

The Spanish feminine picaresque both addresses itself to the male archetypes and prefigures the dialectical narrative of the models. La lozana andaluza, published twenty-six years before Lazarillo de Tormes, strives to reproduce reality through the devices of fiction, in a portrait that brings the artist into his work. Expanding the role of the auctor from sentimental romances such as Juan Rodríguez del Padrón's Siervo libre de amor (Free Slave of Love, mid-fifteenth century) and Diego de San Pedro's Cárcel de Amor (Prison of Love, 1492),1 Delicado populates his literary creation with characters from an identifiable real world and places them in authentic settings, notably in the holy and corrupt city of Rome. He escapes the fantasy realm of idealistic fiction by concentrating on the lower elements of society and the baser instincts of humanity. The author fictionalizes himself to add credence to the portrait and in doing so gains control of the text from both sides of the figurative canvas. He is a writer, an observer, and an actor who influences events and calls attention to the task of composition. He is not only author as character but also character as author. The literary product becomes the macrocosm, subjecting the elements of reality to the conventions of art. The author manipulates the material from within and beyond the text, while Lozana derives her power as the focal point of the discourse and as a speaker. The progression of the text is panoramic rather than emotional, but Delicado does include a final moment of disillusionment for his protagonist and with it the possibility of redemption. The individual and morality lie within the portrait, which places extension over depth. As in every portrait, the center carries a privileged status, and at the center of La lozana andaluza stands a woman with a well-defined past and an ingenious talent for reaping rewards in the present. She is an unabashedly sensual product of her time and milieu, artistically enriched by the complementary facets of the portrait, one of which is a voice of her own.

In his dedication to an illustrious personage, Delicado stresses the pleasure derived from things related to love, “que deleitan a todo hombre” (which delight every man),2 especially in the case of so expert a practitioner as the subject of the portrait. Alluding to Juvenal's skill at observation, he purports to reveal only what he has heard and seen. A faithful rendering of events in a less than exemplary moral climate necessitates a degree of poetic license for the sake of reader satisfaction: “Mi intención fue mezclar natura con bemol” (p. 34; My purpose was to mix nature with sweetness), to soften the truth in order to heighten the enjoyment. Delicado modifies the Horatian dichotomy of the sweet and useful, aiming for authenticity over instruction, or perhaps for instruction through an accurate portrayal of life. Morality and didacticism are at the service of art, an art that establishes an order for quotidian reality.3 For those who would question his motives, Delicado comments, “Si, por tiempo, alguno se maravillare que me puse a escribir semejante materia, respondo por entonces que epistola enim non erubescit, y asimismo que es pasado el tiempo que estimaban los que trabajaban en cosas meritorias” (pp. 33-34; If, in time, someone were to wonder that I would bring myself to write such things, I would reply then that a letter does not blush, and likewise that the time is past when they respected those who busied themselves in worthy matters). The ambiguity of this passage, with its debt to Cicero, sets the tone of the work. In unpraiseworthy times, literary scruples cede to verisimilitude, as art reflects life in a double sense. If the Libro de Buen Amor rationalizes its carnal obsession under the rubric of negative exemplarity, La lozana andaluza relates its scurrilous episodes and vulgarities of language to fidelity in the artistic representation of nature.

Following the dedication, the author offers a brief description of the materials contained in the text. He once again emphasizes the completeness of the portrait and its faithfulness to nature, while using classical sources to justify the need for an artistic arrangement of events and a “dressing up” of the material for the cause of creativity.4 Thus, in the story Lozana will come to be much wiser than her real-life model (“verná en fábula muncho más sabia la Lozana que no mostraba,” p. 36), remade to enter the literary tableau. The analogy to painting expresses the tension between natural phenomena and their transference to another medium, between absolute truth and truth in art. Artistic creation involves re-creation according to the principles of the chosen mode. Delicado acknowledges this distinction, despite repeated references to his accurate rendering of the life around him, by foregrounding his own role in the creative process and later by entering the fictional world. In the preliminary sections of this precursor of Lazarillo de Tormes and Don Quijote, the author notes, whether consciously or unconsciously, the ongoing dialectic of fiction. Unmediated reality provides multiple options. The writer designs a model, selects some elements at the expense of others, and asks the real to comply with the norms of the imaginary. The contradictions inherent in a verbal approach to reality—standard features of the picaresque and a motivating force of Don Quijote—direct the self-consciousness of La lozana andaluza. The more the author and his alter ego ponder the act of writing, the more obvious their imposition on reality becomes. By transforming himself, Delicado punctuates the transformation of reality. By defending the veracity of his portrait, he illustrates the pervasive influence of literary artifice.

La lozana andaluza reflects the trope of synecdoche, which centers on the representative part to symbolize the whole. The sinful existence of a courtesan corresponds to the decaying morality of the Roman populace, avenged by Spanish and German soldiers in the 1527 sack of Rome. The portrait is not art for art's sake but art with a foreboding of doom. The historical moment is as significant a part of the structure as setting, character, and speech. The sack of Rome is determined by political, social, and (for Delicado) ethical factors and predetermined by history. As exposition and warning, the text exists in an ironic present and in a parabolic atemporality. Lozana's story evokes a precognitive or precocious determinism, a combination of her converso background, her sex, and her exposure to poverty, crime, and sin. Delicado presents the stages of her decline in a systematic fashion. He begins with her birth and ignoble lineage, follows her along the path of destruction, and ends with a spiritual solution to discontentment. The vision of the lower depths, so to speak, offers an early form of naturalism that takes into account the desires, instincts, and motives of the characters. The realistic view of society seen from below builds on the exploration of multiple social levels in La Celestina and precedes the anti-idealistic tenor and focus on the individual in Lazarillo de Tormes. La lozana andaluza works from the isolated subject to a segment of society to society and humanity at large. Lozana's destiny relates to circumstances beyond her control, as well as to her conscious choices. The author supplies a family portrait to complement the panorama of Rome, allowing descriptive voices to take the place of the introspection that will mark subsequent narrative discourse. As the mediating presence within the unmediated form of dialogue, the author in his dual role sets the terms and the boundaries of Lozana's story.5

La lozana andaluza is divided into three parts containing sixty-six mamotretos, or memoranda, and several closing pieces. The first mamotreto gives a brief biographical introduction, while the second initiates the dialogue form sustained throughout the text, interrupted only by infrequent commentary by the author (outside his role as actor). Perhaps unwittingly, given his zeal for realistic depiction, Delicado questions the narrative devices he employs. The author who in the dedication attests to having seen and heard the events portrayed in the text cannot have seen and heard everything, nor could his recounting of the dialogue be exact. Like Cide Hamete Benengeli in the Quijote, he claims to be a witness to events he could not possibly have observed. Note, for example, the author's remark in mamotreto 14 concerning Lozana and her servant/procurer Rampín, with whom she has just spent the night: “Quisiera saber escribir un par de ronquidos, a los cuales despertó él y, queriéndola besar, despertó ella” (p. 76; I wish I knew how to write down a couple of snores, which woke him up, and when he tried to kiss her, she woke up). The statements supporting the validity of the text underscore their implausibility. The author at work within his fiction—a fiction that applauds its historicity—embraces and opposes a reality perceived by the senses and modified by words. Realism's loss is literature's gain. Delicado exposes what Cervantes exploits: the writing process itself, the creative distance between signifier and signified, the inversion of microcosm and macrocosm. The figure of the author in La lozana andaluza makes problematic the elements that he attempts to clarify. Objective reality becomes subjective, absolute truth yields to poetic license, and the poet reveals the tools (and the tricks) of his creative trade.6

The author provides a moralizing voice in the text, to the point of confronting Lozana herself on the issue of God's omnipresence and omnipotence (mamotreto 42), a passage that places the creator in a superior position to his creation. The moral stance of the author as character approximates narrative perspective, setting up a type of analogy between the historical veracity and moral validity of the text and the credibility of Lozana's penitent attitude at the end of her story. The discrepancy between a moral position and a profane text and between a historical position and an artistic text may predispose a somewhat skeptical reaction to the change of heart, overshadowed by a volume of sinful acts. The quantitative imbalance resembles that of the Libro de Buen Amor, in which the rhetoric of bad love proves a formidable combatant to the doctrine of good love. An important difference, however, is the presentation in La lozana andaluza of family origins and the origins of antisocial behavior, leading to sin and eventually to despair. Just as Don Quijote and the authorial figure(s) share the spotlight in Cervantes's novel, Lozana and her author(s) command attention in Delicado's work. The author establishes the terms of the socio-biographical account, placing himself within the narrative to report, comment, and interact. Lozana performs mimetically to substantiate his case and to offer her own.

Born in Córdoba to New Christians, Aldonza (later renamed Lozana for her feminine ripeness) travels throughout southern Spain with her widowed mother. The author hints of early sexual encounters and a free-spiritedness that increases on her mother's death. In Sevilla, Lozana's aunt introduces her to a successful merchant, Diomedes, whose mistress she becomes. She journeys toward Italy with Diomedes and barely escapes death at the hands of his irate father, who imprisons Diomedes and arranges to kill Lozana. The protagonist makes her way to Rome, where she settles in the section known as Pozo Blanco, largely populated by Spanish conversos. She finds a kindred spirit in the women of Pozo Blanco, many of whom specialize in the cosmetic arts. Through them she meets a Neapolitan woman whose son Rampín becomes a guide, companion, and sexual partner. Trigo, a wealthy member of the Jewish community, sets Lozana up in a house, where she uses her sexual and economic expertise to profit from her clients. She also practices her skills in the treatment of venereal diseases. At the end of part 1, she comes to the aid of a canon and his pregnant mistress, and at the beginning of part 2, the author discovers that Lozana herself will bear a child by the canon.

The events of what may be termed Lozana's pre-history greatly affect her story, as do the circumstances of her early years. Her impurity of blood, her unstable family life, her status as an orphan, her emerging sexuality, and her mistreatment at the hands of men rob her of youth, innocence, and dignity. Fate brings her to Rome and to Pozo Blanco, where she finds the comfort of group identity and a continuity of ostracism. She becomes the queen of whores in a society that denies her respectability, and the text does not reveal that she would wish it otherwise. The dialogue form gives Lozana an active role in the literary structure, and she has reached a discursive maturity before she begins to speak in the text. She is hardened, cynical, and adept at linguistic as well as sexual expression. The Renaissance predilection for physical beauty customarily manifests itself in paeans to the female form, in works such as Juan del Encina's Egloga de Plácida y Vitoriano (Eclogue of Plácida and Vitoriano). When Lozana sees Diomedes for the first time, she reacts excitedly to his physical charms, shattering the model (and decorum) to acknowledge feminine sexual urges. In Rome, she recalls her successes: “Fui festejada de cuantos hijos de caballeros hubo en Córdoba, que de aquello me holgaba yo. Y esto puedo jurar, que desde chiquita me comía lo mío, y en ver hombre se me desperezaba, y me quisiera ir con alguno, sin que no me lo daba la edad” (p. 49; I was courted by as many gentlemen's sons as there were in Córdoba, which gave me great satisfaction. And I swear that from the time I was a young girl I could feel the cravings of my sex, and just seeing a man stirred me up, and I would have liked to go off with one of them, but age got in my way). Whether to satisfy her desires or to repay men for their abuse, Lozana—whose name suggests her maturity—thrives as a prostitute, swindling her patrons as she gratifies their desires.

Lozana is the antithesis of the ethereal, virginal, elusive beauty, and she is far removed from the aesthetically erotic love objects of idealistic fiction. She shows little concern for the children she has borne Diomedes, she sleeps with Rampin on their first night together, and she combines prostitution with theft. Like Pablos of El Buscón, she is a retrogressive over-achiever, the most flagrant of courtesans, as he is the most flagrant of delinquents. While she deals in cosmetology and legerdemain—arts of illusion—her language reflects the directness of her approach to lovemaking. Her tastes are natural, her needs immediate, her actions shameless, and her discourse is graphic, colloquial, and to the point. When a headwaiter who requires her services approaches her, Lozana says, “‘Señor, dijo el ciego que deseaba ver’” (p. 96; “Sir, the blind man said that he wanted to see,” that is, “Put your money on the table”). She refers openly to sins past and present, to syphilis and other consequences of these sins, and to sexual topics in general, lying only when the deception of the moment demands it. The following passage, in which Lozana addresses a group of Spanish women living in Rome, illustrates her lack of discursive restraint: “¡Ay, señoras! Contaros he maravillas. Dejáme ir a verter aguas que, como eché aquellas putas viejas alcoholadas por las escaleras abajo, no me paré a mis necesidades, y estaba allí una beata de Lara, el coño puto y el ojo ladrón, que creo hizo pasto a cuantos brunetes van por el mar Océano” (p. 50; Oh, ladies, do I have things to tell you! Just let me make water, since because I had to push through all those old painted whores downstairs, I couldn't stop to answer my needs, and among them was a pious hypocrite from Lara, with her smelly cunt and thieving eyes, who I think has rolled in the hay with every sailor who sails the high seas). Lozana's goal of independence extends to her lexicon. Her language, like her lifestyle, is consciously rebellious, unladylike, and worthy of the basest profligate, male or female.7

Delicado's depiction of Lozana is an analogue within an analogue. The antiheroine becomes a symbol of the depravity that is Rome, as Rome itself is a symbol of the triumph of evil. Language, event, and attitude mark a type of semiotic consistency, as all signs lead to sin. Vulgarity is intrinsic to the portrait and to its message, even though the seriousness of the message remains a subtext in a text that seems to take its scandalousness quite seriously. The author forges (or forces) his way into this world, sharing its language and partaking of its temptations yet aware of retributive justice. In mamotreto 4, he describes Lozana as “muy contenta, viendo en su caro amador Diomedes todos los géneros y partes de gentilhombre, y de hermosura en todos sus miembros” (p. 43; very happy, discovering in her dear lover Diomedes all the goods and parts of a gentleman, and with beauty in all his members). Later, in mamotreto 17, he discusses the wayward life with Rampín as one who knows from where he speaks but who knows, as well, the wages of sin. Lozana, for her part, concentrates on the here and now of a commercial venture that unites sexual passion with financial security.

The author as character takes a more active role in part 2, separating himself to a certain degree from both the extratextual author and the intratextual biographer and commentator. A companion provides the exposition of Lozana's affairs, of her victories over men and their pocketbooks, after which the author speaks directly to the protagonist. He is now a lovesick gentleman, she a consultant in matters of the heart. Lozana advises the author to eat sage with his mistress, but prescribes another remedy—monetary in nature—for the companion, who is in love with her. The first mamotreto (24) of part 2 presents Lozana in action among three men, including the author, who praise her beauty and ingenuity, avail themselves of her multiple talents, and finally judge her licentiousness as symptomatic of the ills that beset Rome. In the sections that follow, Lozana pursues all manner of meretricious business, giving counsel and giving of herself. In mamotreto 31, she tells of a dream in which Rampín falls into the river, and she fears for his safety. Immediately afterward, the chief constable apprehends the servant for robbing a grocer. On his release, Rampín ironically validates the dream by falling into a latrine. The dream vision and its actualization relate to the impending disaster and to the importance of Lozana's dream in mamotreto 66, the last memorandum, a dream that may lead to her salvation. In part 2, however, the emphasis is on destruction, personal and communal. Lozana advances as a deceiver of men, and Rome moves toward defeat. In mamotreto 34, a squire echoes Silvio's earlier warning of the danger facing Rome, while Lozana disregards the warning and the future to seize the day.

Part 3, which promises to be more entertaining than the preceding parts,8 gives greater space to the individual and brings the author into the dramatic events and Lozana into the commentary. The protagonist has periodically evaluated her course of action, and she continues to do so, finally realizing that slight modifications cannot benefit her, that the change must be radical. The text devotes little attention to the crisis of conscience and none to the penitence itself. The diversion comes from further variations of Lozana's craft and craftiness. In a lengthy soliloquy at the beginning of part 3, Lozana expresses a desire to separate herself from the prostitute population in order to have greater control over her destiny: “Ya no quiero andar tras el rabo de putas. Hasta agora no he perdido nada; de aquí adelante quiero que ellas me busquen. No quiero que de mí se diga ‘puta de todo trance, alcatara a la fin.’ Yo quiero de aquí adelante mirar por mi honra, que, como dicen: ‘a los audaces la fortuna les ayuda’” (p. 172; I don't want to follow behind whores' tails any more. Up to now I haven't lost anything; from here on I want them to come after me. I don't want it said of me, “a whore all along, a beggar in the end.” From here on I want to watch out for my honor, for, as they say, “fortune comes to the aid of the bold”). Even allowing for honor among thieves, there is a certain boldness in Lozana's words. More than honor, what she apparently wants is status within the demimonde. She is the ultimate pragmatist, willing to do anything to stay one step ahead of her neighbor. The road to redemption is thus far the road not taken.

Mamotreto 42 features a debate between Lozana and the author on the legitimacy of her strategies for survival. Lozana elaborates the various branches of her practice, which include paramedical and pseudoreligious rites and the interpretation of dreams. The author chides her for profiteering from the fears and the superstitions of her customers, cautioning her against playing God. Lozana counters that she performs a service by satisfying the needs of the people and that her prognostication is based on fact and common sense. Having observed those around her, she predicts great carnage in Rome. The author recants, ending the polemic by restating his adversary's case: “Y digo que es verdad un dicho que munchas veces leí, que, quidquid agunt homines, intentio salvat omnes. Donde se ve claro que vuestra intención es buscar la vida en diversas maneras, de tal modo que otro cría las gallinas y vos coméis los pollos sin perjudicio ni sin fatiga. Felice Lozana, que no habría putas si no hubiese rufianas que las injiriesen a las buenas con las malas” (p. 178; And I maintain as true a saying I read many times, that “whatever men do, their intention saves them.” Whence it seems clear that your intention is searching for life in diverse ways, such that another raises hens and you eat chickens, without prejudice and without causing trouble. Fortunate Lozana, there would be no whores if there were no bawds to mix the good with the bad). The dialogue puts the protagonist's activities into moral and practical contexts. Along with the author, the reader discovers the range of Lozana's enterprises and a logical—as well as rhetorical—force that rivals that of Celestina. In spite of his argument to the contrary, the author accepts the instinctive, self-serving rationale of his forensic opponent. Both recognize, nonetheless, that men and women must answer to a higher authority for their conduct. The author looks to the hereafter and Lozana to an imminent hell on earth.

The debate between the fictionalized creator and his creation attests to the persuasive and multiperspectivist capabilities of the literary work and to an emerging self-consciousness on the part of the artist. Just as the character Miguel de Unamuno allows Augusto Pérez to present a superior argument centuries later in the climactic confrontation of Niebla,9 Delicado gives his protagonist the final word in the debate, using his foreknowledge of the sack of Rome to justify her prophetic claims. Rhetoric triumphs over absolute values, self-preservation over virtue. La lozana andaluza offers no psychological progression, but the author's position in the debate conveys an understanding of the protagonist's social predicament. Lozana builds from weakness, using her marginated identity to survive in a hostile world. She becomes mistress of the illegitimate, specialist in the unholy, advisor/confessor in cases of love. Alienated from social acceptability, she inverts the hierarchies of society to control fragmented (and errant) souls. The author places himself in the role of the reader, and his reaction to Lozana's speech guides the reader of the text to a more sympathetic response to her antisocial behavior. Because of his involvement in Lozana's story—he is, in fact, one of the errant souls—the author achieves a dual credibility, as director and participant. By allowing Lozana to “outvoice” him, he gives a victory of sorts to the female outsider and to the evolution of narrative discourse.

The foregrounding of Lozana in the debate serves the transition to her withdrawal from the world, an escape that the text presents as her own decision. Mamotreto 44 sustains the ambivalent portrait of Lozana and of the prostitute in general by addressing the issue of security. As an active member of the community within a community, Lozana lives “better than the Pope,” yet her unceremonious language suggests a concern for and kinship with the older prostitutes whose days of glory have come to an end. She dares to recommend that society provide for the former ladies of pleasure in order to ensure continuity among the ranks. She defends this stance with a traditional argument in favor of prostitution: “Cuando a las perdidas o lisiadas y pobres y en senetud constitutas, no les dan el premio o mérito que merecen, serán causa que no vengan munchas que vinieran a relevar a las naturales las fatigas y cansancios y combates, … y de aquí redundará que los galanes requieran a las casadas y a las vírgenes d'esta tierra” (p. 184; When the lost and crippled and poor and elderly don't receive the recompense or recognition they deserve, it will turn out that many who would have come to relieve the regulars from their weariness and toil and conflicts won't come, … and from this it will follow that gentlemen will court the married women and virgins of this land). Human interest competes with sin, and scruples with logic, in a speech that has greater impact because it follows Lozana's case (with the author's endorsement) for resourcefulness and survival at any cost. The presentation of the problem by Lozana herself stresses the importance of perspective on message production. The prostitutes are agents of sin and guardians of purity; by corrupting themselves, they save others from corruption.

In the debate, the author offers a compassionate and socially advanced affirmation of Lozana's views. Here and in the following memoranda, he gives the antiheroine a voice to identify and elicit sympathy for her sisters in sin. As a character, he yields the floor to Lozana's rhetoric of self-defense. As manipulator of the text, he fosters the cause of the underdog while vacillating slightly in the area of feminine discourse. It is implicit in the statements concerning sexual roles that women fall into one of two categories. They are either good (chaste or married) or bad (prostitutes). Men, in contrast, can have it both ways. Their sexual activities do not affect their honor or their social status. When Delicado has a prostitute rationalize the benefits of her profession for society as a whole, he bestows a somewhat suspicious magnanimity on the figure of the scapegoat. Although he may be accused of putting words into the speaker's mouth, one must note that the double standard has endured far beyond the early sixteenth century and that Lozana's voice, however contrived, has a significant function in the text.

In the concluding sections, Lozana labors as a sexual and medical counselor and cosmetics specialist, mixing with all types from pimps to jurists. She is aggressive, cynical, ready to compete for business. More mature and more pensive than in the preceding parts of the text, she continues to seek notoriety in the margins of society. Mamotreto 51 represents a turning point in the protagonist's life, as the deceiver of men becomes the trickster tricked, duped into giving her affection for nothing. She takes this as a personal affront, and her speech to that effect contains numerous linguistic signs of her rage. The episode forms part of a progression toward her total disenchantment with the things of this world and toward the decision to isolate herself from the past. While Delicado's structure has a beginning, a middle, and an end, the order of events does not reflect a calculated building of momentum. After the deception, it is business as usual for Lozana until she registers dissatisfaction with her earthly existence in the final memorandum. La lozana andaluza is an outline rather than a manifestation of psychological realism. The text provides a compendium of scenes, a portrait of Lozana's enterprises and of her environment, and a re-creation of her speech. The transformation, be it spiritual or self-serving, is a fitting culmination to the material presented in the text. The rigors of her profession, which have a cumulative force in the work, take their toll on Lozana, and she determines to pursue the road to eternity.

Delicado returns to the motif of the dream to inspire Lozana's reformed outlook. Lozana's dream in mamotreto 66 draws images from mythology, legend, and astrology to conclude that “‘el hombre apercibido medio combatido’” (p. 244; “forewarned is forearmed”). From the tree of human destiny, she will reach for the fruit that will lead her to paradise. The vision allows her to put her present existence into perspective: “Ya estoy harta de meter barboquejos a putas y poner jáquimas de mi casa, y pues he visto mi ventura y desgracia, y he tenido modo y manera y conversación para saber vivir, y veo que mi trato y plática ya me dejan, que [no] corren como solían, haré como hace la Paz, que huye a las islas, y como no la buscan, duerme quieta y sin fastidio” (p. 245; I'm tired of putting chin straps on whores and applying home-made depilatories, and since I've seen my fortune and misfortune, and I've had the ways and means and conversation to know how to live, and I see that style and repartee now leave me, for those things don't flow forth the way they used to, I will do as Peace does, which is to flee to the islands, and since they don't seek it out, it sleeps tranquilly and with no burdens). Lozana will retire to the island of Lipari, leaving behind the vanities of her life in Rome, in the hope that a new setting may calm her troubled soul. The author closes with the wish that his portrait may lead its readers to peace, as he has led the protagonist to righteousness. If the resolution is abrupt, the motive is worthy. Lozana laments her age and fading beauty, neither of which has an earthly remedy, and the dream gives her an extramundane alternative that begins with atonement. The reader may applaud the intention and hope for the best or consider Pablos's closing words in El Buscón, published a century later, to the effect that a change of locale does not bring a change of habits.

La lozana andaluza ends with several short compositions, including an apology, an explanation, an epilogue, two letters (one an epistle written by Lozana), and a digression. In the apology, the author answers possible objections to his work. He refers to the moral intention evoked in the dedication to remind the reader what the text proposes. He cites modesty and verisimilitude to justify its imperfections, its crudeness of episode and language. The apology advances the story by stating that Lozana did, in fact, go to live on the island, where she changed her name to signify her change in attitude. The author mentions that he composed the work—which he calls “estas vanidades,” this nonsense—to pass the time while recuperating from a grave and lengthy illness. He closes with an admonition to the reader to place the spirit above the body, as those of the portrait do not, to win God's approval and salvation. The explanation defines mamotreto as a book that contains diverse arguments, in this case secular, thus emphasizing the idea of multiple items of interest and multiple perspectives. Delicado gives the background of Lipari, traditionally a home of condemned criminals, and notes that Lozana's three names (Aldonza, Lozana, and Vellida) all derive from words meaning exuberance and beauty. He adds, “Por tanto, digo que para gozar d'este retrato y para murmurar del autor, que primero lo deben bien leer y entender, sed non legatur in escolis” (pp. 250-51; Therefore, I say that in order to enjoy this portrait and to criticize the author, they first ought to read and comprehend it well, but “it should not be read in school”). The apology and the explanation, along with the introductory materials, offer a literary frame (and moral framework) for the portrait of Lozana.

In the “Letter of Excommunication against a Cruel Maiden in Good Health,” the author presents the suffering of love from the viewpoint of a gentleman overcome by the fire of passion, a lover who laments his lost freedom and blames the ungrateful woman (described in courtly detail) responsible for his metaphorical demise. Significantly, the speaker here is Cupid, a figure whose effect on humanity informs La lozana andaluza. Sixteenth-century Rome rejects Christian doctrine to worship the pagan deity of love, and moral chaos and destruction follow. Lozana's epistle deals directly with the sack of Rome. Addressing her sisters in love, she points out that sin, the cause of the devastation, must now yield to reconstruction, for the prostitutes have only past glories to celebrate. Delicado's digression, written in Venice, places the sack of Rome in the context of divine retribution for mortal errors. On a more personal level, the author recounts the situation that brings him to have his manuscript (which he does not count among his “legitimate” writings) printed in Venice. In addition to the dual culmination—the sack of Rome and the publication of the text—the digression asserts the authority of Delicado's voice in the dialogue, bringing the “real” author into his work to validate his fictional counterpart. The result may be an inversion of this principle; the touted diversity of the memoranda may include the fragmentation of the author.

La lozana andaluza creates verbal portraits of an antiheroine and her milieu with a consciousness of history, causality, and the act of composition. The protagonist is an outcast among outcasts, poor, foreign, a New Christian, and a woman who works as a prostitute in a Jewish quarter of Rome. The precocious naturalism of the text relates to Delicado's conception of portraiture as a detailed rendering of reality and to his analogical vision of corruption as a prelude to disaster. The portrait “freezes” a moment to present its richness and its historical irony. Lozana is an agent of sin and a product of the society that ostracizes her. Her position in the portrait is genetically and socially determined, a testimony to the importance of bloodlines for social respectability and responsibility. Up to the final memorandum, Lozana is a character without a conscience and without a sense of the hereafter.10 Disillusioned at last, she retires to Lipari as a form of penitence, thereby abetting the author in his claim of a moral intention. The same author seems to relish the freedom that Lozana's licentiousness gives him to convert her negative energy into a justifiably scatological text. The tension between the expressed purpose and the direction of the text typifies the interplay of author and narrator in the later picaresque models. The dialogue format of La lozana andaluza effects a unique strategy of authority that nonetheless points the way to succeeding fictions.

By projecting himself into the text, the author brings the real world into the realm of fiction while pretending to do precisely the opposite. He is artist and character. He interacts with Lozana and her associates and develops a portrait according to the conventions of literature. He respects truth but subjects his work to the criteria of poetic truth and artistic unity. He makes the writing process a part of the product. One can distinguish between the several faces (or voices) of the author as creator, participant, witness, and mediator. His presence heightens the verisimilitude of the events and at the same time puts narrative reliability into question. The direct discourse calls for exact reproduction, and the privacy of a number of scenes precludes the intrusion of a witness. The author must approximate, must create new realities from old, and must reinvent the world to conform to the demands and the limitations of fiction. The arguments for literary realism and the divided self indicate the distance between the world and the work of art. Literary reality is faithful to its source in an analogical, symbolic way, a fact lost neither on the picaresque authors nor on Cervantes. Self-consciousness turns restrictions into assets by expanding the horizons of literature, by incorporating the problematic relation between life and art into the text. Delicado seems to intuit both the delicate balance and the means of using it to his advantage through the author's multiple functions in La lozana andaluza. As in the later forms, realistic and counterrealistic tendencies coexist.

The fragmentation of the authorial figure and the use of dialogue make possible a variety of perspectives. Several characters describe the protagonist, and she completes the portrait by acting and speaking in the text. Through her, Delicado seeks a discursive correlative for immoral behavior in a richly indecent speech. La lozana andaluza is a display of colloquial and dialectal speech, proverbs, classical sententiae, lists, literary allusions, maledictions, and the sexual lexicon of its period. The antiheroine is the principal informant, a storehouse of linguistic data. Because she offers counsel on beauty and carnal matters, her discourse provides not only a vocabulary but also a state of the art, and perhaps an experiential statement about the author. Discourse reflects character, as the wayward Lozana freely expresses her emotions, with little or no concern for polite society. Language becomes a form of release, a means of decrying social inequity, a verbal analogue of promiscuity. The author's discourse mirrors the ambiguity of intention by uniting moral insertions with vulgar speech. His language alternately places him above the characters he depicts and makes him one of them. He pleads for piety in an age of sin but shows compassion for the sinner, fights for spiritual ideals but defends the tactics of survival in this life, shows the protagonist on the road to hell but leads her toward peace. Using a non-narrative form, he fashions a multiperspectivist object in which the author interacts with the antiheroine and discourse parallels story. Lozana's language, like her lifestyle, is unrestrained, yet she is free only in a relative sense. A higher authority regulates her conduct and her discourse.

Considered historically, La lozana andaluza points to the subtle interplay between author and narrator/protagonist in the picaresque. As is often the case in the archetypal novels, the more the speaker (here, the author as character) says, the wider the distance between the expressed intention and the messages produced by the text itself. Discourse works ironically to shatter the foundations of a positive or moral purpose. Speech intervenes when only silence will protect secrets or serve didacticism. Lozana's discourse hardly progresses toward the change of attitude reflected in the final memorandum. The linguistic consistency conveys a pattern of thought and behavior. Lozana is as much a product of heredity and environment at the end of the work as she is at the beginning. The text does not prepare the reader for a conversion, so that the shift from sin to repentance may carry a note of skepticism. The intervention of the author in the work, as both moralizer and womanizer, intensifies the system of mixed messages. The anonymous author of Lazarillo de Tormes announces his presence in the prologue and within the text as the manipulator of irony. Alemán extends the interpretive possibilities in Guzmán de Alfarache by allowing the allegedly reformed sinner to describe his errors and provide moral commentary. When the inner thoughts conflict with the outward stance, Guzmán may reveal more than he intends. Like his author, he may accept morality as a necessary premise while responding more fully to the world of feeling and spontaneity. Quevedo's Buscón unites stylized discourse with a coercive story to acknowledge the intrusion of the author into his fiction. Published between Guzmán de Alfarache and El Buscón, La pícara Justina has a different historical (and intertextual) role than La lozana andaluza. Borrowing a gloss of morality from Alemán and offering a prelude to the linguistic achievement of Quevedo, López de Ubeda forges a new direction for the picaresque.11


No quiero, pluma mía, que vuestras manchas cubran las de mi vida, que (si es que mi historia ha de ser retrato verdadero, sin tener que retratar de lo mentido), siendo pícara, es forzoso pintarme con manchas y mechas.

I don't wish, my pen, to have your stains cover those of my life, for—if my story is to be a valid drawing, without having to withdraw from deceptive events—being a pícara, it's essential to paint myself with stains and threads showing.

La pícara Justina opens with a dedication, two prologues, and a general introduction. In the dedication to his patron Don Rodrigo Calderón, López de Ubeda puts forth certain facts “out of character.” He emphasizes the diversity of the material and its great entertainment value, which will give respite from the grave issues of state that concern Don Rodrigo. In the prologue to the reader, written in a comically sycophantic tone, he recognizes that a totally playful book should not be published and that a totally solemn one would not be read, and so he opts for leisure reading with a message. To the frivolous adventures of a free woman he has appended moral messages in the style of the fabulists. The author claims to avoid the love plot of La Celestina by focusing on the greater evil of deception for financial purposes. He replaces a carnal structure with a commercial structure that incorporates all manner of sin. For every crime there is an implied punishment and for every punishment a lesson: “En este libro hallará la doncella el conocimiento de su perdición, los peligros en que se pone una libre mujer que no se rinde al consejo de otros; aprenderán las casadas los inconvinientes de los malos ejemplos y mala crianza de sus hijas; … y finalmente, todos los hombres, de cualquier calidad y estado, aprenderán los enredos de que se han de librar, los peligros que han de huir, los pecados que les pueden saltear las almas … pues no hay en él número ni capítulo que no se aplique a la reformación espiritual” (In this book, the maiden will find knowledge of her perdition, the danger into which a woman who will not heed the counsel of others places herself; married women will learn the consequences of bad examples and inadequate rearing of their daughters; and finally, all men, of every rank and status, will learn the snares from which they must free themselves, the dangers that they must flee, the sins that may rob them of their souls, since there is in it no item nor chapter that does not apply to spiritual reformation).12 The second prologue uses the words of the protagonist, directed to her fiancé Guzmán de Alfarache, to summarize the major episodes of the text through epithets that collectively affirm her protean nature.

In the three parts of the general introduction, Justina Díez addresses herself to the act of writing. The point of departure is a reaction to a hair on her pen. In an apostrophe to the writing instrument, she wonders if the hair has appeared to cover her blemishes or rather to show that hair will never cover her blemishes, an allusion to the loss of hair from venereal disease. Submitting that artful treatment may make an ugly object valuable, she will present a truthful picture of herself and hope that, as in other creatures of nature, the spots will enhance her worth. She plays on the verb confesar, to confess, and her status as confesa, converted Jew, to synthesize the writing process with its social implications. In the second part of the introduction, Justina again works with variations of the word mancha (spot, blemish) as she complains of the ink stains she has received in removing the hair from her pen. Attempting to remove the stains, she gets ink on her skirt, a situation treated as emblematic. In the third part, the narrator reacts to the small snake that serves as watermark on her paper, at first fearing the symbol and then indicating its positive qualities. Similarly, negative incidents may have illuminating results, and her book will allow readers to see the light as it entertains them. Thus, with pen and paper in order, the composition may begin.

The writing process has, of course, already begun. The introduction defines the goals and the parameters of Justina's text and establishes the direction of the discourse. The author enters the text to frame the narrator's story with a verse resumé at the beginning of each section and moral commentary (aprovechamiento, application) at the end. The commentaries represent a concession to didacticism, with a special nod to the digressions of Guzmán de Alfarache. Despite their prominent position in the text, the concluding passages register as truthful but uninventive adages competing against the resourceful and sophisticated discourse of the antiheroine. La pícara Justina is a static work from the perspective of psychological or ethical development. The protagonist liberates herself from the dictates of society to pursue monetary rewards. She knows that she is wrong to place wealth and pleasure above all else, but she chooses to obey the mandates of pocketbook and heart over the admonitions of Christian dogma and conscience. The text alternately celebrates this freedom and condemns it, placing entertainment in the context of final judgment and reminding the reader that freedom abused is license. As an object unto itself, La pícara Justina prioritizes a lack of restraint in deed and discourse, while the aprovechamientos link the text to the world and make the present moment part of an eternal scheme. The narrator justifies her work as entertainment without fully convincing the reader of its enlightened vision. As a self-consciously conventional gesture, the author coats the wanton account with studied virtue.

The introduction presents a framework for the text and a format for the relation between author and narrator, and it foregrounds Justina's linguistic skills. Here, as throughout the narrative, one discovers a mistress of the word whose art becomes a type of structure of consciousness. If Guzmán de Alfarache alternates story with moral digression, Justina does little but digress at every phase of storytelling. The hair of the first section, for example, leads to word plays, symbolic interpretations, historical and mythological allusions, fables, rhetorical analogies, refrains, and hieroglyphic or emblematic representation.13 Blowing on the hair, she stains herself and her clothing and thereby progresses into a new set of verbal tricks. From there, she finds additional digressive possibilities in the watermark. The obsession with hair illustrates the inevitable suffering for sins of the past, as her crowning glory falls prey to syphilis. The constant shifts aid the cause of multiperspectivism, for Justina devotedly complements the bad with the good, the bitter with the sweet, and the sweet with the useful. Within this miscellany of free association, Justina speaks of the exemplary nature of her manuscript, of her current social and physical status, and of the picaresque life. There is method in her tangents. The salient features of her discourse are its directness, its commitment to honesty at the expense of modesty, and its virtuosity. Her willingness to push self-examination to the limit may denote the presence of a male author who takes every opportunity to criticize and to satirize her actions or to make her the mouthpiece of such criticism. Justina is quick, perhaps too quick, to make her impure blood, her infirmities, and her calamitous existence the object of verbal abuse. There are signs to indicate that the author does not withdraw from the text between the opening verses and the closing admonition, and that he controls the irony of Justina's discourse.

Whatever subtextual strategies may be discerned from the discourse of La pícara Justina, it is important to note that López de Ubeda creates a protagonist who recounts her life from birth to her first marriage (with the promise of a sequel) in a consistent style and with a literary sensibility. While the author has the last word in each section, Justina has the major voice, even if it is not entirely her own. López de Ubeda makes the antiheroine a specialist in proverbs, tales, historical and geographical data, and symbolic meanings. Justina ventures into the realm of the senses—debatably from the male perspective—to discuss general feminine psychology. The judgment of her own actions comes primarily from the author's commentaries as opposed to narrative introspection. More dedicated to details than to motives, Justina moves chronologically (and tangentially) from one episode to the next. In her role as narrator, she periodically considers the ramifications of her deceptions. As a character, she has little regard for the future and little regret for her errant ways. The four books of La pícara Justina share a common ground in Justina's greed and tricks to ensure economic security, in a figurative and literal return to her roots, and in the discursive plan. To comply with his moral aim, the author employs the narrator as speaker in the introduction to undermine the success and the self-determination of the young protagonist. In the text proper, he assumes the task of guardian of morality, while, at least quantitatively, Justina dominates the discourse. The interdependence of author and narrator marks an impressive collaboration that nonetheless precludes discursive freedom for Justina.

Book 1, “La pícara montañesa” (from the mountains, where most people have pure blood), begins with the narrator's comments on writing and with a defense of her endeavor. She has barely started to write when her first critic appears. Perlícaro ridicules the presumptuousness of her act. Is her story holy or significant? Is she a legitimate artist? Does posterity require the thoughts and deeds of a lowly, untrained, and undesirable woman? This case of devil's advocacy on the part of the author confronts the question of justification. Justina devotes far more space to answering Perlícaro's charge that she is old than to answering his condemnation of her literary enterprise, but the implied argument, based on fables and verbal emblems, is to let the book speak for itself and to judge it after the fact. The author comes into the text to censure Justina's vanity and humanity's inclination to use words for evil rather than for good. The antiheroine's discourse has detractors before her story commences.

The narrator maintains that the picaresque nature is hereditary, a premise supported by her family tree. The none-too-impressive ancestry leads to her parents, shrewd and unscrupulous innkeepers who give Justina a practical, if not pious, education. Justina's grief at the loss of her parents is shortlived. Of her lack of tears upon her mother's death, she notes, “Hay veces que, aunque un hombre se sangre de la vena cebollera, no quiere salir gota de agua por los ojos, que las lágrimas andan con los tiempos, y aquél debía de ser estío de lágrimas, y aun podré decir que unas lagrimitas que se me rezumaron salían a tragantones. ¿Qué mucho? Vía que ya yo me podía criar sin madre, y también que ella me dejó enseñada desde el mortuorio de mi padre a hacer entierros enjutos y de poca costa” (pp. 144-45; There are times when, although a man may even resort to peeling onions, not a drop of water will come from his eyes, for tears are at the mercy of the occasion, and this must have been the summer of tears, and I can even say that some little tears that did leak out came out in gulps. Indeed, I saw that I could get along without a mother, and she herself taught me on my father's death how to bring off a dry and cheap funeral). The passage shows an inherited insensitivity and an acquired self-sufficiency, as well as a comic and colloquial form of expression. The pícara is now an orphan who must fend for herself. She leaves her village to see the world and conquer.

Book 2, “La pícara romera,” takes its title from the practice of making pilgrimages in memory of loved ones. Justina's adventures in the town of Arenillas are more secular than spiritual, as is logical of one whose goals are to dance and to travel. Justina has an extremely brief career as a religious devotee, then finds herself pursued by a zealous suitor, a bacon and pork dealer. Escaping him through deception, she participates in a celebration with acquaintances whose envy and ill treatment force her to move on. She meets up with a group of student-rogues dressed in religious habits and involved in mock-religious celebrations. The captain or “bishop” of the company, called Pero Grullo after a character in folklore, takes a liking to Justina and wants to add her to his flock. The rogues kidnap her and prepare for her seduction by their leader. Using reason, her feminine wiles, and a great deal of wine, Justina manages to outwit them and to hold them up to ridicule. To complete her revenge, she leads them to Mansilla, accuses them of robbery, and watches in delight as they flee. Home again, she enjoys the notoriety of her triumph. Having set out to complete a holy mission, she falls in with an unholy alliance. She prays only when Pero Grullo threatens to violate her, yet her salvation hardly makes her more devout. Her escape is not a moral victory but a demonstration of her ability to trick the trickster. The townspeople praise her as chaste, astute, and brave. The author denounces her as loose-living, lazy, and hypocritical.

Justina confesses that she has never felt any particular affection for the men of her village. Now that she has risen above the rustic life, she departs for León. Her journey marks the beginning of the second part of book 2. The author remarks, “Pondera, el lector, que los males crecen a palmos, pues esta mujer, la cual, la primera vez que salió de su casa, tomó achaque de que iba a romería, ahora, la segunda vez, sale sin otro fin ni ocasión más que gozar su libertad, ver y ser vista, sin reparar en el qué dirán” (p. 224; Ponder, if you will, reader, that evil grows by leaps and bounds, for if this woman, when she left home the first time, used the pretext that she was going on a pilgrimage, now, the second time, she goes without any other end or reason than to enjoy her freedom, to see and to be seen, without any regard for what people will say). In the midst of the holy activities of the cathedral city of León, Justina may observe the religious sites, but her mind is on money and men. An episode with a student-cardsharper shows Justina blinding her admirer with love only to defraud him of a gold crucifix, a symbol of the sacred ideals that she is rejecting. The (implied) author cleverly juxtaposes this episode with Justina's commentary on why hypocrites are abhorrent, based on an encounter with a thief dressed in hermit's garb. The protagonist is, of course, not beyond duping the hypocrite of his money.

Never quite devoted to her role as pilgrim, Justina covers herself with a cloak and places herself at a church door to beg for alms. Shortly after the account of her experience as a mendicant, she delivers a “sermon” on the glories of virtue, which ends, “No predico ni tal uso, como sabes, sólo repaso mi vida y digo que tengo esperanza de ser buena algún día y aun alguna noche, ca, pues me acerco a la sombra del árbol de la virtud, algún día comeré fruta, y si Dios me da salud, verás lo que pasa en el último tomo, en que diré mi conversión. Basta de seso, pues. Quédese aquí. Voy a mi cuento” (p. 303; It's not my custom to preach, as you know, for I'm only reviewing my life, and I tell you that I have hopes of being good someday and even some night, for I'm approaching the shade of the tree of virtue and someday I'll partake of its fruit, and if God gives me strength, you will see what happens in the last volume, where I'll tell of my conversion. Enough food for thought, now. Let's leave it here, and I'll get on with my story). She is still some distance away from the tree of virtue. She tricks a student, a widow, a barber who has helped her rob the widow, and others before a second triumphal return to Mansilla.

Book 2 of La pícara Justina sustains the format of book 1, differing only in the intensification of story and discourse. The tricks become more complex, with several cases of repeated crimes against the same victim. There is greater emphasis on role-playing and disguise and on the sacrilegious nature of Justina's behavior. She is an insincere pilgrim who uses León as her base of operations and nominal religious practice as a means to financial ends. Her contact with clerical figures is economically rather than divinely inspired, and she prays for the success of her sinful ventures. Just as Justina exploits those around her, the author forces his narrator to sermonize against the very transgressions that typify her behavior. Neither her promised conversion nor his promised sequel materializes, a fact that consciously or unconsciously adds to the irony. The successful homecoming is a return to the sins of the past and a prelude to those of the future. The motif of inheritance appropriately dominates the third book of the narrative. Throughout the text, Justina Díez acts according to a parental and ethnic legacy, a public notoriety, and an ironic code of self-betrayal inherited from her picaresque predecessors.

In book 3, “La pícara pleitista” (litigant), Justina quarrels with her siblings over the estate of their parents and is disinherited: “Para mí fue la justicia justicia, para mis hermanas misericordia” (p. 391; For me the court of justice was just, while for my sisters it was compassionate). To avenge the decision of the magistrate, she convinces a roguish admirer to rob the family coffers, and, with the newly acquired wealth, she departs for the town of Ríoseco. There she uses the stolen money to renew her claims. A “perverse” solicitor enters a suit but consumes her resources in the process. With finances depleted but spirit intact, she endears herself to three spinners—having changed her costume to fit the enterprise—whom she relieves of wool and profits. Justina meets her match in an elderly Moorish woman, a sorceress whom she calls “great-grandmother of Celestina.” During the time that Justina resides with the old crone, she finds her ingenuity (formerly termed “grandiose,” she informs the reader) of little avail. Fate intervenes, however. The old woman dies, and Justina claims to be her granddaughter and only heir. Her acting achieves what her legitimate defense does not; a constable grants her the rights of inheritance. After resisting the “importunate” sacristan who handles the burial, Justina once more returns to Mansilla. Motivated by pride and encouraged by prosperity, she appeals the earlier judgment and obtains a favorable sentence. Now that she has resolved the problems of the past, she turns to domestic possibilities for the future.

Book 4, “La pícara novia” (bride), traces Justina's steps to the altar and, in the process, allows the narrator (and the implied author) to satirize some members of male society. The first of the suitors is Maximino de Umenos, a turner with illusions of grandeur. Ironically, or hypocritically, Justina rejects him for pretending to be more than he is. The next candidate is an equally presumptuous washerwoman's son who appears as a flagellant to woo Justina. In the third chapter of book 4, the narrator catalogs the aspirants to marriage, emphasizing vices that range from insincerity, egotism, ostentation, and rustic impropriety to excessive gravity. For Justina, the bottom line in courtship is the economic status of the suitor: “Gustamos las damas que haya pasajeros por nuestra puerta, que no es buen bodegón donde no cursan muchos. Pero no es ese el finis terrae, que ya la gallardía, gravedad, señorío—y aun el gusto y el amor—, por pragmática usual se ha reducido a sólo el dar. … El amor se declina por sólo dos casos, conviene a saber: dativo y genitivo. El primero por antes de casarse y el segundo por postre. ¡El diablo soy, que hasta los nominativos se me encajaron!” (p. 448; We women like to have travelers pass by our door, for a tavern can't be any good if few frequent it. But this isn't the be all and end all, since gallantry, seriousness, distinction—and even pleasure and love—as a general rule have been reduced to only giving. Love is declined in only two cases, to wit, the dative and the genitive. Devil that I am, even nominatives cramped my style!). Justina sacrifices some of her illusions to marry Lozano, a soldier given to gambling and defender of her estate in the suit against her brothers and sisters. She concludes the text with a description of the wedding ceremony and wedding night, then alludes briefly to her second marriage to a wealthy old man named Santolaja and a third and blissful marriage to none other than Guzmán de Alfarache.

In La pícara Justina, López de Ubeda creates a loquacious, irreverent, and intelligent narrator full of misdirected energy. Justina's verbosity is a family trait, her delinquency a product of heredity and environment, and her knowledge a synthesis of reading (a collection of works left in her parents' inn) and experience. The misdirected energy is the synthesis of a synthesis; the craving for financial security is the logical final stage of her upbringing and marginated position in society. Lineage and circumstances work against her, so she must fight on her own behalf. Unlike the defensive tenor of Lazarillo de Tormes or the confessional air of Guzmán de Alfarache, Justina's account carries no apologetic overtones. The narrator/protagonist follows the way of the world by differentiating theory from practice, by making action and diction functions of situation rather than of doctrine. She states boldly, “Ya ves que hago alarde de mis males, no a lo devoto, por no espantar la caza, sino a lo gracioso, por ver si puedo hacer buena pecadora” (p. 401; So you see I make a show of my wrongdoing, not in a devout manner, so as not to spoil my prospects, but in an amusing manner, to see if I can make a good sinner). Fully conscious of her picaresque tendencies—and given to dropping forms of the word pícaro—Justina relishes her noncomformist performance on the stage of life and on the pages of her manuscript as one who has nothing to lose. It is the author, not she, who professes to make a moral point.

The author superimposes himself on the structure of the narrative, poetically at the beginning of each section and morally at the end. In the poems, he strives for variety and a touch of humor. In the aprovechamientos, he appends instructive but commonplace adages to a blatantly antisocial text to remove La pícara Justina from the threat of inquisitorial stricture. The benefits are reciprocal in that the author enjoys moral superiority over his creation and the narrator enjoys a certain freedom of speech. From the opposing perspective, equally reciprocal, the author's presence in the text proper seems evident and Justina's liberated discourse may be an illusion. The depth of information, literary and otherwise, contained in the work suggests a background far more diverse than Justina's. The autobiographical thread belongs to the narrator, while the great quantity of non-narrative material—descriptions, judgments, anecdotes, customs, emblems—bears witness to the educational and experiential range of the author. The treatment of hypocrisy reflects an ironic strategy in which the narrator betrays herself by condemning others for a sin that she continually commits; this is the author's discursive version of tricking the trickster. In terms of plot, López de Ubeda builds unity around the themes of freedom, deception, and inheritance, with special emphasis on the latter. Justina is a product, perhaps victim, of biological and socio-historical factors that dominate her existence. She responds to and pursues the family legacy, fighting her closest blood relations and fighting the discrimination caused by her blood. Her means of survival in an inimical world is deception, just as the only power she can achieve is wealth. Criminality is freedom only in the most relative sense, and Justina is subject to control from without, both in society and in the text.

Following the lead of Delicado's Lozana, Justina flouts the rules of proper (feminine) speech, as well as the social proprieties. López de Ubeda makes a concerted effort to include what may be termed women's topics in La pícara Justina, but the series of observations bespeaks a male viewpoint. The manipulation of the female voice to evoke antifeminist (or pre-feminist) responses signals the inversion of perspective characteristic of the picaresque variations. In book 1, chapter 1, number 2, Justina discusses the basic generic roles: “El hombre fue hecho para enseñar y gobernar, en lo cual las mujeres ni damos ni tomamos. La mujer fue hecha principalmente para ayudarle (no a este oficio, sino a otros de a ratos, conviene a saber:) a la propagación del linaje humano y a cuidar de la familia” (p. 98; Man was made to instruct and govern, in which we women have no give or take. Woman was made primarily to help him [not in this duty but in others from time to time, namely:] the propagation of the human race and looking after the family). In book 2, she provides male-oriented theories as to why women are restless, why women respond to rejection, why women favor possessions over the welfare of men (an inheritance from Eve) and why they are vain about their beauty.14 Justina also credits her sex with the invention of false stories and stratagems: “La primera que oyó fictiones en el mundo fue la mujer. … La primera que buscó aparentes remedios para persuadirse que en un daño claro había remedio infalible, fue mujer. La primera que con dulces palabras hizo a un hombre, de padre amoroso, padrastro tirano, y de madre de vivos, abuela de todos los muertos, fue una mujer. En fin, la primera que falseó el bien y la naturaleza, fue mujer” (p. 345; The first in the world to hear falsehoods was woman. The first to seek outward cures to persuade herself that a clear injury had an infallible cure was woman. The first to use sweet words to turn a man from loving father to tyrannical stepfather and a mother of the living to grandmother of all the dead was a woman. In sum, the first to falsify goodness and nature was woman). Few readers, it seems, would deem this unqualified freedom of expression for the pícara.

In the throes of courtship and imminent marriage, the narrator further examines the nature of male-female relations in book 4. In chapter 4 (“On the Obligations of Love”), she declares that there are three reasons why a woman loves. The first is wealth, which she places above honor. The second is to preserve, albeit temporarily, the natural order and have man submissive to her as a slave of love. Justina notes that women react against dominion and subjection “although it is natural and for our own good” (“aunque sea natural y para nuestro bien,” p. 455). The third reason stems from woman's nature to please (“dar gusto”). Wishing to make the best match possible and yet not disappoint anyone, women respond most strongly to the men who are most persistent. True to her sex, Justina yields to interest, presumption, and persistence in agreeing to marry Lozano. Idealized love and honor have no place in this pragmatic approach to holy matrimony. López de Ubeda transforms the sexual reprobate of La lozana andaluza into a virgin sinner. Justina's body is a selling point, but not for sale; she takes men's money and escapes before they can abuse her. On her wedding night, she laments her lack of education in the wifely duties and faces the nuptial couch with a certain degree of modesty. At the end of the narrative, Justina alludes to future volumes that will include accounts of her widowhood and a second and unfortunate marriage to Santolaja, which nonetheless leaves her with property she may share with Guzmán de Alfarache. She refers somewhat ambiguously to her current happiness (“el felice estado que ahora poseo,” p. 465) while saying that she will be called the poor one (“la pobre,” p. 466) in the fourth volume of her account. In any event, the interest from her second marriage presumably allows her to modify the criteria for selection of a third partner, a love match with the infamous Guzmán.

Early in the narrative, Justina mentions that she wrote the manuscript quite a while before (“Mil años ha que hice esta obrecilla,” p. 79), so one must assume that the narrating voice is a composite of past and present. The text barely reflects the dual temporal scheme, however. There is no interplay between an unreflective past and a reflective present nor a dialectic of experience and contemplation, and there is only negligible difference between the Justina of the introduction and the Justina of book 4. For all her loquacity, insights, and data, the narrator resists self-examination, stressing detail and cross-reference over the implications of events. A dubious prosperity, reminiscent of Lazarillo de Tormes, marks an ending that shifts from the first wedding ceremony to the third marriage. A conversion that would link the work to Guzmán de Alfarache is conspicuous by its absence, with the exception of a fleeting remark. López de Ubeda responds parodically to Alemán's novel, retaining the moral lessons but separating them from the narrator/protagonist and greatly reducing their quantitative impact.15 The aprovechamientos vindicate the author from negative reaction to story and discourse, while the associative thinking of the narrator justifies unlimited interpolations. Justina provides the reprehensible examples, the author provides a rhetoric of righteousness. Alemán and later Quevedo create protagonists who fight to deny their heritage, whereas Lopéz de Ubeda shows Justina's struggles to attain her birthright. With no facade of piety and no defensive maneuvers, she moves doggedly forward to reach her objective, as the author recasts her temerity in the framework of eternity, or of eternal damnation. The intricate use of language, exhaustive range of materials, and ironic exposure of hypocrisy proclaim an authorial presence who combines invention with subversion. La pícara Justina heralds the linguistic flourishes and discursive intrusions of El Buscón and the narrative syntheses of Salas Barbadillo and Castillo Solórzano.


  1. See Barbara F. Weissberger, “‘Habla el auctor’: L'Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta as a Source for the Siervo libre de amor,Journal of Hispanic Philology 4 (1980): 203-36. The intertext for the feminine variations of the picaresque would include the autobiography of Leonor López de Córdoba, written early in the fifteenth century. See Reinaldo Ayerbe-Chaux, “Las memorias de doña Leonor López de Córdoba,” Journal of Hispanic Philology 2 (1977): 11-33; Randolph D. Pope, La autobiografía española hasta Torres Villarroel (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1974), pp. 14-24; and Alan Deyermond, “Spain's First Women Writers,” in Women in Hispanic Literature: Icons and Fallen Idols, ed. Beth Miller (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 27-52.

  2. Francisco Delicado, La lozana andaluza, ed. Bruno Damiani (Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1969), p. 33. All subsequent quotations from La lozana andaluza will refer to this edition, and page numbers will be indicated in parentheses. See Francisco Delicado, Retrato de la loçana andaluza, ed. Bruno M. Damiani and Giovanni Allegra (Madrid: Ediciones José Porrúa Turanzas, 1975). M. Louise Salstad treats the narratives discussed in this chapter in The Presentation of Women in Spanish Golden Age Literature: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980). For background material in the European context, see Ian MacLean, The Renaissance Notion of Woman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

  3. José María Díez Borque, in “Francisco Delicado, autor y personaje de La lozana andaluza,Prohemio 3 (1972): 455-66; Bruno M. Damiani, in Francisco Delicado (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974); and José A. Hernández Ortiz, in La génesis artística de La lozana andaluza (Madrid: Editorial Aguilera, 1974) argue for a moral intention in La lozana andaluza. See also Juan Goytisolo, “Notas sobre La lozana andaluza,Triunfo, no. 689 (10 April 1976): 50-55; and Augusta E. Foley, Delicado: La Lozana andaluza (London: Grant and Cutler, 1977).

  4. See Bruce W. Wardropper, “La novela como retrato: El arte de Francisco Delicado,” Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica 7 (1953): 475-88; and Valeria Scorpioni, “Un ritratto a due facce: La loçana andaluza di F. Delicado,” Annali Istituto Universitario Orientale, Napoli: Sezione Romanza 22 (1980): 441-76. For studies of the portrait with Rome as backdrop, see Segundo Serrano Poncela, “Aldonza la andaluza lozana en Roma,” Cuadernos Americanos 122 (1962): 117-32, and Lilia Ferrara de Orduna, “Algunas observaciones sobre La Lozana andaluza,Archivum 23 (1973): 105-15; and for a relation of the portrait to literary theory, see José M. Domínguez, “La teoría literaria en la época de Francisco Delgado [Delicado], c. 1474-c. 1536,” Explicación de Textos Literarios 6, 1 (1977): 93-96.

  5. On the use of the dialogue form, see Claude Allaigre, “A propos des dialogues de la Lozana andaluza: La Pelegrina du mamotreto LXIII,” in Essais sur le dialogue, intro. Jean Lavédrine (Grenoble: Publications de l'Université des Langues et Lettres, 1980), pp. 103-14; and Augusta Espantoso Foley, “Técnica audio-visual del diálogo y retrato de La lozana andaluza,” in Actas del Sexto Congreso Internacional de Hispanistas, ed. Alan M. Gordon and Evelyn Rugg (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1980), pp. 258-60.

  6. For views on the role of the author, see Díez Borque, in “Francisco Delicado”; Hernández Ortiz, in La génesis artística, esp. pp. 119-27; and Peter N. Dunn, “A Postscript to La lozana andaluza: Life and Poetry,” Romanische Forschungen 88 (1976): 355-60. Addressing himself to a great extent to Delicado himself, as opposed to his textual alter ego, Dunn writes, “The sack of Rome is read in light of a code which is also a theodicy: wicked peoples and nations are punished by God in exemplary fashion. Lozana, learning to read the signs of Providence, rewrites her life on the pattern of St. Mary of Egypt: she retires to an island and becomes a pious recluse. For his part, the author protests his serious purpose; afflicted now with disease and the onset of age, he reads his own life and its involvement with Lozana as a sign. All that careless fornication and insouciant indulgence, and the seemingly gratuitous note-taking for the unmotivated ‘portrait’ of Lozana, appear as if directed by the same finger of Providence which points to the catastrophic punishment that is to come. He writes his book at the convergence of life (his own and Lozana's) and myth” (p. 356).

  7. For linguistic considerations of La lozana andaluza, see Manuel Criado de Val, “Antífrasis y contaminaciones de sentido erótico en La lozana andaluza,” in Studia Philologica: Homenaje ofrecido a Dámaso Alonso, vol. 1 (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1960), pp. 431-57, and Damiani, in the introduction to Retrato de la loçana andaluza, esp. pp. 33-51.

  8. The title of mamotreto 41 begins, “Aquí comienza la tercera parte del retrato, y serán más graciosas cosas que lo pasado” (p. 171).

  9. In chapter 31 of Unamuno's novel Niebla (Mist, 1914), the fictionalized author debates the question of authenticity with the protagonist, Augusto Pérez. In the climactic confrontation, Augusto uses Unamuno's own words against him.

  10. Bruno Damiani speaks of a “spirit of the Renaissance” in La lozana andaluza. The protagonist “takes pride in asserting her dignity and merit and her right to use the physical and intellectual attributes in full to enjoy what the world has to offer. The concomitant effect of this attribute is the formation of a strong individualism and a notable social amorality. Although this amorality existed without any sense of guilt, in the ethical sense of the word, it created, nevertheless, a milieu for the inevitable disenchantment man felt with worldly things” (Francisco Delicado, pp. 90-91).

  11. For general studies of La pícara Justina, see Marcel Bataillon, Pícaros y picaresca (Madrid: Taurus Ediciones, 1969); Bruno M. Damiani, Francisco López de Ubeda (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1977), “Aspectos barrocos de La pícara Justina,” in Actas del Sexto Congreso Internacional de Hispanistas, ed. Alan M. Gordon and Evelyn Rugg, pp. 198-202, and “Notas sobre lo grotesco en La pícara Justina,Romance Notes 22 (1982): 341-47; Luz Rodríguez, “Aspectos de la primera variante femenina de la picaresca española,” Explicación de Textos Literario 8 (1979-1980): 175-81; Antonio Rey Hazas, “La compleja faz de una pícara: Hacia una interpretación de La pícara Justina,Revista de Literatura 45 (1983): 87-109. Peter N. Dunn treats “The Pícara: The Rogue Female” from La pícara Justina to the narratives of Castillo Solórzano in The Spanish Picaresque Novel (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979), pp. 113-33. See also Thomas Hanrahan, S. J., La mujer en la novela picaresca española, vol. 2 (Madrid: José Porrúa Turanzas, 1967), pp. 195-261; Richard Bjornson, The Picaresque Hero in European Fiction (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1977), pp. 87-96; Pablo J. Ronquillo, Retrato de la pícara: La protagonista de la picaresca española del XVII (Madrid: Playor, 1980); and José María Alegre, “Las mujeres en el Lazarillo de Tormes,Arbor 117, 460 (1984): 23-35.

  12. [Francisco López de Ubeda,] La pícara Justina, ed. Bruno Mario Damiani (Madrid: José Porrúa Turanzas, 1982), pp. 44-45. All subsequent quotations from La pícara Justina will refer to this edition.

  13. Joseph Jones studies “‘Hieroglyphics’ in La pícara Justina,” in Estudios literarios de hispanistas norteamericanos dedicados a Helmut Hatzfeld con motivo de su 80 aniversario, ed. Josep Sola-Solé, Alessandro S. Crisafulli, and Bruno M. Damiani (Barcelona: Hispam, 1974), pp. 415-29. For a study of semantic layering, see Claude Allaigre and René Cotrait, “‘La escribana fisgada’: Estratos de significación en un pasaje de La pícara Justina,” in Hommage des hispanistes français a Noël Salomon, intro. Henry Bonneville (Barcelona: LAIA, 1979), pp. 27-47.

  14. See, respectively, book 2 (first part), chapter 1, number 1, pp. 154-55; book 2 (second part), chapter 1, number 2, pp. 225-26; and book 2 (second part), chapter 4, number 3, pp. 294-96.

  15. Bataillon (Pícaros y picaresca, esp. pp. 175-99) and Damiani (Francisco López de Ubeda, esp. pp. 49-60) discuss the influence of Guzmán de Alfarache on La pícara Justina. Alexander A. Parker, in Literature and the Delinquent: The Picaresque Novel in Spain and Europe, 1599-1753 (Edinburgh: The University Press, 1967), states, “It seems to me that Ubeda … honestly thought that Guzmán was not the way to write a work of entertainment combining pleasure and profit, that a low-life theme should not be treated seriously, and that the tone of realistic fiction should therefore be lowered. Ubeda's extraordinary language can be considered an intentional travesty of the ‘low style’ in order to counter the solemnity of Alemán. His aim was to make the new genre laughable, which is why the title page does not offer the ‘Life’ of the heroine, but a ‘Book of Entertainment’ concerning her” (p. 50).

Anne K. Kaler (essay date 1991)

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SOURCE: Kaler, Anne K. “Literary Origins of the Picaro and the Picara.” In Picara: From Hera to Fantasy Heroine, pp. 21-41. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Press, 1991.

[In this excerpt, Kaler discusses the early picaras in Spanish literature, focusing on their autonomy.]

Imagine that, after all the primary colors that the picaro left us are blended into crude figures, the artist introduces a true blinding white which is laid on top of all the other shades to highlight prominent points.

Autonomy is such a white—a brighter, larger, obtrusive, awkward, unpredictable, crystalline, visible, shattering white. For it is around and about and in and through her autonomy that the picara takes her distinctive literary form, separate from the subdued shades of earlier literary forms. If her autonomy clarifies her picaresque traits, autonomy also magnifies the shapes and colors of the earlier picaresque forms. Asserting that her autonomy is her distinctive characteristic, this part of the chapter will seek to prove that her existence not only precedes the emergence of the literary picaro in time, but also that her picaresque traits diverge sharply enough from that of the picaro to force us to look beyond him for their cause. For, where Lazarillo, Simplicius, and Guzman are more affected by their society than affecting it, the picara adapts the brilliance of her autonomy to survive in her society. She controls her own destiny. The picaros might serve masters but the picara is never a mistress—that is, she is never a mistress unless it will profit her.

The assertion of her autonomy over her sexuality brings the picara to the notice of Western literature: the Greek hetaira, the desert harlot, and the Renaissance courtesan, all possessed autonomy over men by bestowing their sexual favors. While the Song of Songs might praise women's breasts as apples and the images of Eve's tempting apple and of Israel as the unfaithful bride of the covenant might pervade the Scriptures, Christianity found sexual autonomy, such as the Lilith myth demanded, too dangerous a tool for women. While Christ's teachings upgraded the status of women by giving them the protection of marriage, some church fathers rejected feminine sexuality in their misogynist list of evil women. While the Church lauded Mary of Nazareth for her obedient submission to the will of God, it ignored her autonomy over her own destiny in choosing to be the bearer of Christ; she could have said “no” but her Fiat became the hallmark of acceptance of her feminine role and the model for all women. In contrast, Eve's apple is a borrowing from the cult of Aphrodite and her sin of “disobedience” was thought to be a sexual one akin to that of Lilith—a sin of rampant feminine sexuality gone wild. In iconography, Mary's crushing the head of the serpent with the apple of Eve's temptation still in his mouth exemplified the defeat of the spiritual over the material powers.

If the white of the picara's autonomy highlights the vivid green of her prostitution, the yellow of her courtesanship, and the dark green of her bawdry, her entrance point into literature is marked by her emergence, not by her sexual role as a prostitute, but by her role as the bawd. What characterizes her first is her avaricious greed. When the sin of usury prohibited Christians from the charging of interest because money should not beget money—Mammon should not beget Mammon—the bawd's major sin was her avarice, not her prostitution. While her traffic in fornication was serious enough, her more serious sin was that she profited from prostitution. Ironically, she is an early entrepreneur investing her capital—her time, experience, and efforts—in her prostitutes and living from the rewards of their labors: as Lynne Lawner in her Lives of the Courtesans notes, “the courtesan is one of the first examples of modern woman achieving a relatively autonomous economic position” (4). The later mercantile society chastised her for encouraging men's wastefulness and the lack of good stewardship; like coins debased with inferior metals, the man who frequented prostitutes wasted his efforts since no children resulted. So repugnant was this unproductive form of sexuality that the bawd was assigned to be the gatekeeper to hell, further tying her with the devil of Mammon. It took the satirical humor of Spanish literature to characterize the bawd as a woman worthy of notice.

In Spanish literature, as early as the fourteenth century, the bawd is the “sempi-eternal figure of Spanish literature” (Cohen 15). Prefigured as the go-between and the duenna in the Roman de la Rose, the bawd figure first entered into the tapestry of the young lovers in the Archpriest of Hita Juan Ruiz's 1330-43 tale of El libro de buen amor or the Book of Good Love. Often compared with the realism of The Canterbury Tales of his contemporary Chaucer, Ruiz's tale resembles the Wyf of Bath's Tale with the wandering knight who must marry the old hag when she gives him the correct answer as to what women want most—sovereignty. The hero of the Book of Good Love calls on Venus and the bawd to aid his amatory conquests. Using a twelfth century dramatic remnant of Terence and Plautus' comedies as a basis, Ruiz popularized the bawd under the title of “Trotaconventos” whose name describes her function, a woman who “trots” between convents or religious events to secure assignations for her clients. While Trotaconventos obtains for the narrator the object of his desire, Dona Endrina, the young widow is disgraced while the picaro narrator lives to bed a series of ugly shepherdesses (or cowherds), Moorish girls, and chaste nuns before Trotaconventos dies and he ends the book. That a bawd would have religious implications is not unexpected in a country like Spain where religious events were also social events and where church services provided a natural trysting place for women secluded by family and custom.

Such a mixture of religious and secular themes places Ruiz's book among goliardic or juglaresque literatures for his love songs jostle elbows with his hymns to Mary, his comic touches abut his serious moralizations, his autobiographical style compliments his misery at his imprisonment. He categorizes and castigates love in all its forms, rendering the nature of the book closer to carpe diem verses of goliardic literature in its celebration of wine, women and song. The narrator is a wandering cleric who writes for the wandering artists, actors, journalists of his time, for “blind men, for begging scholars, for Jews and Moors and wise women and serenading lovers” (Brenan 83). While all of these characters types are found in picaresque literature in some form and all contribute to the picara, so many literary genres are used by the author that the work becomes a satire on literary forms and pretensions of his day. The theatre, for example, is a natural environment for the picara and the drama a natural way to express herself. The church's use of auto sacramentales or religious drama heightened the use of dialogue as a worthy medium of literary exchange, as appears in the debat form of psychomachia of later literatures and in the later La Celestina. Ruiz's book contains drama in the debat between Dona Quaresma (Lent) and Don Carnal (Feast or Carnival), with Don Amor welcomed as a conqueror over Dona Quaresma. Still, the author creates the character of the memorable bawd with a gentle and humorous understanding of her necessary position in his society.

A century later, the 1438 work of another churchman presented the darker green-black view of the bawd. Nicknamed the Corbacho the work of the Arciprete de Talavera Alfonso Martinez de Toledo solidified the medieval litany of evil women by embroidering on the bawd of Boccaccio's Carbaccio until the bawd became a fit ancestress to Celestina. Unlike Ruiz, Martinez de Toledo introduced a lower form of dialogue to characterize his bawd, a form which continues into La Celestina. So intent is Martinez de Toledo's work that Chandler and Schwartz claim that the author made “misogyny a studied art” (165) in his indictment of types of evil women.

In the 1528 picaresque work of another churchman Francisco Delicado, Retrato de la lozana andaluza, the Andaluzian girl Lozana travels to Rome where she becomes an eavesdropper on courtesan life in her occupation as beautician. Lozana's autonomy appears in her recording that the Renaissance courtesans were exalted as cortesanae honestae or honorable whores in their roles as the personification of earthly beauty of Eros in contrast with the spiritual beauty. As Lawner in her work details, Rome was the “city of celibates” and of Renaissance artists where the “theoretical Neoplatonism idealizing the female figure as ‘heaven on earth’—literally the stepping stone to, or shadowy copy of, divine beauty—converged with a practical epicureanism to allow a quite concrete image of the desirable woman to emerge” (4). Entrepreneurs to a woman, the courtesans used portraiture as an advertising medium to increase belief in their role as necessary deities in the Roman society much as their later descendents used pictures to lure clients. As women who lived in secluded houses and attracted only the highest quality of clients, the courtesans' solemnity in their portraits shows the seriousness of their vocation.

Many of the picaresque traits are imitated in stories of these courtesans—they adopt fanciful names, change lovers, seek money; in Lozana's case, she travels from her home to Rome and from lover to lover, combining two major traits of the picara. While not quite knowing what to call her—Chandler and Schwartz settle for the term of “anti-heroine” (181)—they admit that she is the first of the picaras. What is of interest is the fact that the term “Lazarillo” for a beggar is mentioned in connection with her, proving that the name was in existence as a type long before Lazarillo became the literary picaro.

The most famous Spanish bawd, however, appears in the 1499 closet drama of Fernando de Rojas' La Celestina which achieved such popularity that more than sixty editions and even more imitations were produced in the century following its publication. While Rojas probably wrote the piece in 1499, the first act differs from the rest of the play in so many particulars that critics feel that it preceded the play by as much as a quarter of a century. In a letter accompanying the 1501 edition, Rojas claims to have reworked an old “auto” or interlude he found while on vacation from its one-act concentration on Celestina the bawd into the romantic story of Calisto and Melibea.

The Spanish auto sacramentales (short skits used as moral teaching devices akin to the Corpus Christi miracle and mystery plays of the English stage) employed the one-act structure of the morality play, personified vices and virtues, and were usually performed within a procession. For example, the “ship of fools” which convention appeared in Gil Vincente's 1519 Barca de la gloria, an “auto” based on the medieval danse macabre, was a familiar theme to a society who held the bawd as the gatekeeper of hell and who had sin and death as the children of the devil. Akin to the story of Dame Siriz in the “Interludum de Clerico et Puella,” Celestina was adapted by confreres of St. Thomas More as an interlude between the courses of banquets where it served the same purpose as a morality lesson to warn society of the evils of procuresses. Because the drama and the tale both come from similar sources of oral tradition, to find the same story in two genres is not any more unusual than to find the story of Tevye in a short story or in a musical comedy or a movie.

Critics agree that Celestina is actually a novel; Chandler and Schwartz refuse to place it in drama and insert it under the novel because it “was obviously never intended to be acted” (72-3). Yet the dramatic structure increases the play's connection with the picaresque novel. “What is gained by the use of uninterrupted dialogue is a condensation [with] no description of places or situations, which arbitrarily change. Everything is conveyed by conversation, stifled asides, and soliloquy,” J. M. Cohen claims in his introduction to his 1964 Penguin translation entitled The Spanish Bawd (9). Such paucity of details, such concentration on episodic action, such interchange of dialogue rather than description is characteristic of the picaresque tale and becomes the mainstay of picaresque novels.

Celestina is a bawd who, like Lazarillo, lives near a Spanish river with her two prostitutes Elicia and Areusa and two servants Sempronio and Parmeno. As a peddler of notions and potions she has access to the women at church services and in their homes. When Parmeno suggests that his master Calisto used Celestina's services to obtain the secluded Melibea, Celestina's professional skills become a tour de force, justifying her existence as a bawd. When she is successful, her servants kill her in an argument about the reward she has received for arranging the assignation between Calisto and Melibea. These star-crossed lovers are unfortunate; during one of their meetings, Calisto is killed in a fall from the ladder and Melibea throws herself from a tower in mourning.

Cohen asserts that Celestina's origins can be traced back to the lighthearted madam and bawd of Plautus and Terence because the names are Latin rather than Spanish in their origins (9). Monteser claims that in Plautus' parasites are early picaros and that in Truculentus the courtesan Phronesium is “clearly a sister-at-heart of Celestina, and therein is to be found a direct connection between Rome and the Siglo de Oro” (35). So popular was Rojas' combination of the bawd figure with the sentimental and romantic story of Calisto and Melibea that it was first translated into English as early as 1526. James Mabbe's famous translation entitled The Spanish Bawd in 1631 brought Celestina into prominence, prefiguring Shakespeare's combining the love story of Romeo and Juliet with Juliet's nurse as the bawd. Chandler and Schwartz claim that Shakespeare used an Italian edition to form his Juliet's nurse (172); as a descendant of Celestina, the nurse's practical, i.e. non-romantic comments, on the interchangeability of lovers shows her basic survival trait. Count Paris is as attractive as Romeo and he is available, she reasons the nurse's husband exists for no other reason than to provide lewd remarks to Juliet. This bawdic callousness in the face of love flaunts the convention of romance and is typically picaresque; love does not pay the rent nor buy the bread. By defying the traditional concept that marriages were arranged for the society's good and not for the individual's pleasure, Romeo and Juliet plunge into modern romanticism. Similarly, Celestina exemplifies the old morals while Calisto and Melibea employ the new romanticism of the individual. The entire play/novel can be read as a moral lesson on how unbridled passions of the individuals can lead to their deaths and to the rupture of society's communal growth.

While Celestina's tale remains a truncated picaresque morality play, in the hands of Rojas, however, the major love story develops leisurely in dialogue before it expands into a social commentary on the hostility of Spanish culture to its Jewish “conversos.” Because recent critics believed Rojas may have been such a “converso,” Cohen argues that the union between the lovers cannot take place because they are of different castes, religions, and social status, citing “the lack of Christian language in the speeches of Melibea and her father” (13), the superior attitude of Calisto, and Rojas' initial hesitation in acknowledging authorship as the signs of a “certain nervousness” (13) about censorship. Indeed, the anonymity of much Spanish literature, even Lazarillo des Tormes, Cohen claims, may stem from the fear of censorship that forced Rojas to include his name in an acrostic in the 1502 edition. For example, the same is not true of Celestina's story which remains an undeveloped and functionally picaresque tale of the bawd who dies for greed whereas the time and leisure of play's dialogue allows the lover's characters and backgrounds to develop; of special note is the fact that the story of Celestina dominates the first edition with the love story being expanded in later editions.

The picara is often accused of being a witch because she practices herbal or folk medicine under her cover as a seamstress. Celestina's witchcraft is associated with the prostitute/picara's occupation of cloth and sewing when she pictures herself as a peddler who deals in needles and thread. Parmeno the servant claims that she “had six trades in all. She was a seamstress, a perfumer, a master hand at making up cosmetics and patching maidenheads, a procuress, and a bit of a witch. Her first trade was a cover for the rest” (37). For over a hundred lines, Rojas details Celestina's lists of medicinal compounds and love potions with which she would “paint letters on their palms in saffron or vermilion, or give them wax hearts stuck full of broken needles [or] draw figures on the ground and recite spells” (39). Furthermore at the end of the third act, Celestina's list of ingredients would put Macbeth's witches to shame as she conjures up the dark forces of classical hell of “melancholy Pluto [to] wind this thread around you, and do not let it go till the time comes for Melibea to buy it. Then remain so tangled in it that the longer she gazes at it … she will forget her modesty, reveal herself to me, and reward me for my labours” (68). Ironically, Parmeno delivers a diabolic litany of her titles, the proudest of which is “old bawd” (36). As a witch and a procuress, she is a social outcast, her house “on the edge of town … stands a bit back from the road, near the tanneries and beside the river. It is a tumbledown place, in poor repair and badly furnished.” (37).

While Celestina harkens back to the personified Vice of Avarice in playing the archetypically greedy old woman, she is uniquely autonomous even in Spanish picaresque literature where she is worth of recognition in a society that is obsessed with servants and servitude. Whereas the later European derivatives of the picaros are usually free men and women, the Spanish picaro is a servant while the picara is not. Whatever her status, Celestina is a manipulator of people and industrious in her own cause, an independent entrepreneur who must adopt a servile guise but one who has “lived an honourable life, as everybody knows. I'm a person of note” (63). Like her avaricious sister-picaras, she demands and gets one hundred crowns to secure Melibea for Calisto by seducing Parmeno from his innocence into greed, counteracting his “I don't want ill gotten gains” with her own statement, “I'm for gains by fair means or foul” (48).

While Celestina adds the green of procuress and seamstress to the picaresque colors, the character of La Picara Justina adds the moon-silver of the wandering rogue to the nature of the Spanish picara. Where Trotaconventos trotted between lovers and Celestina went between the houses of the lovers, Justina moves from city to city, not in pursuit of love or lovers but for adventure and fun. Justina, Parker claims, “adds nothing new to the exploration of delinquency, but it does add a new element to the literary material of delinquency by the creation of a female rogue” (50-1). She is the first of the picara rogue/tricksters without being a bawd or prostitute herself.

Controversy still exists about Justina's authorship with most critics accepting Francisco de Ubeda as the author, although Frank Chandler claims that a Dominican friar Andres Perez of Leon wrote the work during his student years and used Ubeda as a frontman. Written in 1603, the story was classified with other picaresque tales, quickly passed into other European languages, and finally was condensed under its English subtitle of The Country Jilt with tales of Celestina and other minor picaros and published in 1707 by John Stevens.

As a literary work, Justina is perhaps more conscious of its literary style, although most critics see it as a roman a clef of Ubeda's court scene; it has three prologues and four books, an introductory preface, and little literary merit for its interest lies in its relationship to the other picaras and picaros. The subtitles of the books indicate the author's use of cultural and social customs in the different types of picaros and picaras: Justina is a picara montanesa whose concern with a high place in society implies the denial of Jewish or Moorish blood, a picara romera or pilgrim rogue, a picara plietista or deceiving rogue, and a picara novia or engaged rogue (Sieber 27-8). She compares herself to Celestina, Lazarillo, and other lesser picaros in the description she sends to Guzman prior to their marriage. For example, in the fourth book, Justina marries a soldier named Lozana, the same name as the first Spanish picara; in the promised but never delivered sequel, Justina was to marry Aleman's Guzman de Alfarache. In fact, Frank Chandler notes that the frontispiece of the first publications of Justina shows Celestina and Guzman accompanying Justina toward the Port of Death with Lazarillo in a neighboring boat (428).

Well aware of her position in such august company of the picaros and picaras, Justina is closer to the trickster-picaro than to the bawd Celestina. Justina is an anti-heroine to the romantic heroines as much as Lazarillo is an anti-hero to the knights errant. Like Lazarillo, she is much more of a trickster who seeks her identity and her inheritance by her cunning ways. What the world will not give her, she takes through chicanery. She has made the step from the hunger theme to the avarice theme because she needs money or goods rather than food itself to survive; in a sense, she feeds off the thrill of the adventure itself. As Frank Chandler points out, “the picara thus secured inevitably greater freedom of movement than the picaro, and through her was to come the evolution of the rogue novel to a higher stage, where the theme was not so much the classes in society as individual adventures and aspects of life” (239).

After establishing her picaresque genealogy, “for a rogue should prove roguery a heritage” (Chandler 235), and the death of her innkeeper parents, Justina wanders to the Spanish cities, joining with occasional con men to pull off tricks, returning home to Mansilla at the end of each book, marrying finally, and leaving her readers at that point. Because she is not a courtesan, Justina does not follow the picaresque exchange of masters; because she is not a beggar, she is never a picaresque parasite; because she is seldom a servant, she is not subservient. “Justina herself had but one mistress, the Morisca, and thereafter, down to Moll Flanders, the women of the romances of roguery were treated rather according to their lovers and their personal exploits than according to their changes of service” (Chandler 239). The picara had begun to wrest autonomy from a reluctant society.

Spain contributed other picaras, all of whom are variations on the same themes—courtesan, trickster, romantic heroine, adventuress—all of whom push the picara into the criminal/trickster image. The titles alone give a hint to their contents. In 1631, Castillo Solorzano wrote Las harpias en Madrid y coche de las estafas, a collection of four novellas about four fatherless girls who use a coach from a deceased admirer to defraud hapless suitors and to acquire wealth. The four retire to Granada, promising new adventures. His romances include Teresa del Manzanares [Teresa, the Child of Frauds] in which Teresa follows the sharpster tricks of Justina in defrauding and satirizing society. She joins the theatrical troupe, marries four times, and settles down, promising to “a new volume to treat of the avarice of his [her husband's] and her family” (Chandler 314). Solorzano's other novels are about the picaro Trapaza (whose name means deceit) and his daughter Rufina whose story in La graduna de Sevilla in 1642 gave rise to many translations and imitations; Scarron used it in his 1651 Roman Comique; John Davies printed La Picara or the Triumph of Female Subtilty in 1665 which was later titled The Life of Donna Rosina; in 1717, The Spanish Pole-Cat: or the Adventure of Senora Rufina appeared.

Influenced by the lists of evil women prevalent in the writings of church fathers, the picara acquired the darker shades of the villainess so that every evil woman becomes a picara. For example, Salas Barbadillo's 1612 novel La hija de Celestina, known also as La Ingeniosa Elena, departs from the picaresque genre into that of the murder mystery in which the heroine is executed for her crimes. Confusing the sordid reputation of Helen of Troy with the contemporary picaras, critics agree that Elena has strayed into the realm of villainesses: to Chandler and Schwartz, she is “the typical evil, vice-ridden woman … the most depraved of all the picaras” (186) and the tale of such a picara has deteriorated so that it is “no longer communicating with the birth of the rogue, and dispensing entirely with the service of masters, its observation of low life was only such as would contribute to the working of the plot, the intrigue standing out as supremely important” (Chandler 291).

Written within seventy years of each other, the early picaras' stories contribute additional colors to the basic formula: Lozana is a wanderer; Celestina is a full-time bawd, Justina is a trickster. While French and Italian authors never developed the picara beyond her Spanish origins, the German Grimmelshausen constructed his picara Courage as a countervoice to his picaro Simplicius. Hans Speier claims that it is unlikely that Grimmelshausen consciously used Celestina or Justina as sources of his picara while Monteser claims that “Trutz Simplex was probably based” on the French version of Justina, La Narquoise Justine (31). Indeed, while she does imitate the other picaras, Courage is very much her own individual; her contribution to the tapestry is the sparkling blue of the adventuress and the purple of the warrior.

Her name is intimately tied with her vice. When she is the daughter of an unidentified Bohemian nobleman, she is called Libuschka; when she is the military serving boy, she is Janco; when she is revealed as a woman, her captain names her Courage because, in her fight to resist discovery of her true sex, she refers to her opponent's grabbing her “between the legs because he wanted to get hold of the tool [male genitals] that I did not have” (99). Just as the name Lazarillo delineates his character, the various translations of Courage's name and subtitles color the reader's view of her. For example, Speier's translation refers to her as the “adventuress,” a word used by G.B. Shaw for his female heroines. Yet an “adventuress” is somehow less than an “adventurer” who is defined by Webster's as “one who engages in new and perilous enterprises” and “a soldier of fortune” while an “adventuress,” on the other hand, is a lesser being, a “female adventurer; a woman who seeks position or livelihood by equivocal means.” The older translation of George Schulz-Behrend's calls her the “Runagate” Courage, a word which confuses the Latin word “to deny” or “renegade” with the Middle English words “to run” and “agate” or “on the way.” Monteser calls her by the first German words of the manuscript—“Trutz Simplex”—“to spite Simplex” because he feels that it best describes Grimmelshausen's intent to weave Courage into his ten-novel series as a female rogue and antithetical contrast to Simplicimus. Most critics call her a picara.

Courage's life story, interwoven as it is with that of the picaros Simplicimus and Skipinthefield, ultimately revolves around the Thirty Years War. Because of the constant war, she adds a dimension not used by the Spanish picaras like Celestina and Justina; where their survival efforts center on wresting food from their reluctant societies, Courage's survival is even more basic because she is constantly uprooted by the chaos of war; it is not surprising to find her as a warrior of sorts. However, Speier notes that, while Courage is “as much an amazon as a harlot,” she also “has many of the quantities of the heroines in the idealistic novels of the baroque era … a manlike, vigorous creature, a virago … the ideal of the Renaissance, fashioned after illustrious ancient models” (32-3). He cites the several contemporary German baroque novels which helped form Courage but maintains that she has several picaresque elements which set her apart.

One of those elements is the variable final status of the picaras: Celestina is murdered; Justina survives to marry happily; Courage survives but at a lesser status as she is reduced from being the daughter of a nobleman to the “Madam General” or queen of the wandering gypsies. Within her military career, she is increasingly less fortunate as she is reduced from an actual combatant and plunderer, to her trade as a sutler, to a lesser position as dealer in minor tobacco and brandy, finally to a psuedo-military leader of a raid for stolen food from peasants. Fortune is often flexibility for the picara and what autonomy Courage has is linked with her military career as it parallels the Germany's war-ravaged destiny. Her picaresque nature allows her to move as easily within military ranks as she can in civilian life. While she cannot control the actions of war, she can control her participation in it as a combatant, plunderer, sutler, camp follower, or soldier of fortune; her fortune may decrease but Fortune still protects her.

In her marriages, her career is equally downward as she starts with marriage to a cavalry captain, descends to a infantry captain, to a lieutenant, to a sutler, to a musketeer (Skipinthefield), and ends up with a gypsy husband. Despite her checkered career, she outwits Fortune by her survival in the face of the horrors of war. At the end of the novel, she claims that she and the gypsies are “of no use to God or man and do not want to serve either of them, but to the detriment of both the country folk and the great, whom we relieve of many a head of game, [we] live on nothing but lies, fraud, and theft.” (223). The operative word here is “live” because she does survive into her seventies. Even then, as the wife of the gypsy lieutenant, blackened by “goose drippings and various salves for lice on my skin and from the use of unguents to dye my hair,” Courage is “so struck by the change I had undergone that I had to laugh at myself out loud” (216-6). Change, growth, Fortune, chance, chaos—all color the tapestry with their hues but the grim black-red of war dominates Courage's story.

The streaked black and red of the chaos of war are the natural foil for an autonomous picara; war and social change establish the disordered universe of the early picaras which later novel picaras use merely as backgrounds while many fantasy picaras adopt it as integral to their character as warriors. Parker claims that war is the ultimate delinquency derived from pride or the inability to submit the individual will to the common good (135), a vestige of the primal capital sin of pride. Courage prides herself in gaining revenge on Simplicius by abandoning a child for him to raise and on various lovers for their ill-treatment of her. Her pride leads to her concern with vanity about her loss of beauty which in turn might lead to a loss of money and an attack of avarice, the second deadly sin. She accuses herself of other faults—anger, indolence, melancholy, wantonness, lust—to construct her own version of the seven deadly sins that are so much a part of the makeup of Celestina and other Spanish picaras.

Courage uses the military aspect of war as a secondary source of her two vices: avarice and sexuality. She is aware of these as faults as she mentions in her first chapter: speaking of herself, she claims that “her sauciness and wantonness have subsided, her stricken conscience is anxiously awake, and the listless old age she has reached makes her feel ashamed of keeping on with her excessive follies … What I am lacking is repentance, and what I ought to be lacking are avarice and envy” (89-91). Always her chief characteristic is her avarice which drives her to her revenge on Simplicius; her ultimate trick, she claims, is that she has left her maid's child to be brought up at Simplicius' charge. Thus, her avarice is both motivation of her need for survival and a demonstration of her skill of survival. Even when she tries to settle down as a farmer, she is able to gain financially on the soldiers billeted at her house, so that she found that her “prosperity and income exceeded the expenses incurred through the war” (202). Her rapaciousness in accumulating plunder leads first to her dabbling in trade and then to her acquiring goods through tricks and scams; again, there is a downward movement as she participates in legal theft on the battlefield to illegal thievery with gypsies.

Just as the military setting satisfies the restlessness of the picara, so also does it provide a natural environment for her lustfulness. The change of military husbands and lovers serves as the picara's version of the picaro's change of masters, a form of autonomous control. With the help of her nurse, Courage first tries to avoid losing her virginity by disguising herself as a boy; when that disguise is about to be uncovered, she gives herself to the cavalry captain who promises to protect her. Even then she is autonomous because she controls the situation: “I liked the touch of his lascivious hands much better than his fine promises, but I resisted gallantly, not in order to get away from his or to escape his desire, but in order to arouse and excite him to even more fervent efforts” (101). Her assessment of her sexual powers achieves autonomy for her; once she understands that she has a marketable body, she uses it to obtain her survival by marrying and prostituting herself to her financial advantage. Thus, war has satisfied her need for chaos of Fortune, for pride in her military accomplishments, for her avarice in accumulating money, for her lust in sexual endeavors, for her need to travel, and for her general restlessness. Onto the picaro's colored skeins of wandering, hunger, and trickery, the picara laid her colorful skills in bawdry, avarice, and war. The next color to be applied came with the transportation of the picara into English.

The primary colors of these Continental picaros and picaras were muted down into softer shades of the English female rogue, derived partly from life and partly from the prose fiction forms of autobiography (criminal, spiritual), jest biography, joke books, fabliaux, drama. Although the English fictional picara is slashed in the bold outline of the criminal biography, her introduction of humor, literary realism, and social criticism capture the more complex tones and values to define the English picara.

Just as the epylla cluster around a central hero to become an epic, so do the stories within a generation center on the most prominent person of that century. In such a mythopoeic process, the subjects of the jest biographies or Schwankbiographen could not have created all the tricks and riddles assigned to them any more than Abraham Lincoln could have experienced all the anecdotes attributed to him. In England, the citrus yellow of jest biography—the treasury of jokes, riddles, and anecdotes—tinged the popular mind in various literary forms. Because such books needed justification for their existence, many overlapped characters with Lazarillo and Celestina, Justina and Guzman, frequenting later editions of each other's works. This spin-off effect or “visiting star guest” format is most familiar in television but its purpose is the same as that of the jest book: to provide “a whetstone to mirth” as the prologue of the 1635 edition of Long Meg of Westminster does when it compares the heroine's escapades with those of Robin Hood and Bevis of Southampton (Mish 83).

Despite the fact that her biography was entered in the Stationers' Register in 1590 and her story has continued down as an example of the jest biography, debate as to whether Long Meg was an actual living person is still going on. The actual persons mentioned in her biography place her in the early sixteenth century in the time of Henry VIII through Queen Mary's reign in 1557. According to the epitaph by a later writer Gayton, Long Meg of Westminster was buried in the Abbey: “I, Long Meg, once the wonder of the spinsters / was laid, as was my right, i' the best of Minsters” (Burford 47).

Long Meg's name stems from her extreme height of more than seven feet and from the “length of her proportion [where] every limb was so fit to her tallness that she seemed the picture and shape of some tall man cast in a woman's mold” (Mish 84). When she leaves her Lancashire home to London to “serve and to learn city fashions,” she is accompanied by several young women. Encouraged to find work as a tavern-maid at the Eagle tavern in Westminster, she is tested by two historical jesters—Will Summers and Doctor Skelton; when she defeats a third man in combat, a Spaniard, Sir James of Castile, she is hired as a “bouncer” for the tavern. That Sir James is a Spanish knight heightens awareness of the picara's origins in the Spanish picaresque, jest books, and anti-romantic spoofs. When this latter miles gloriosus again engages her in combat in her male attire, the braggart knight pleads with the disguised Long Meg for his life, declaring that the duel was only “for a woman's matter; spill not my blood” (Mish 91). When Meg agrees to spare his life if he serves as a page at dinner, she reveals herself as a woman and enjoys being “master of the feast, Sir James playing the proper page, and Meg sitting in her majesty” (Mish 92).

While Long Meg's two occupations of soldiering and tavern-keeping seem to lift her above the tradeless picaro, the trades actually precipitate and emphasize the later picara's autonomous abilities. Her original military career is precipitated by her taking the place of her servant. Nowhere is she called a camp follower but rather a “laundress [who caused] her women soldiers to throw down stones and scalding water” (104) on the French soldiers. When Meg is challenged by a braggart Frenchman, she defeats him in single combat and sends his head to his commander. For her military efforts, she is granted lifetime pension by the King of eightpence a day, not an uncommon practice for many of the actual women who soldiered in various wars. (The seventeenth century Christian Davies fought with the British army and was awarded a shilling a day pension (Thompson 69).) In peacetime, Meg also resorts to physical means to defend her business from a persistent constable who tries to count “what guests she had”; she promised to “beswinge you as ever constable was beswinged since Islington stood” (107). She keeps order in her tavern by enforcing a list of rules of conduct yet within her own marriage she gives apparent autonomy to her husband by refusing to fight with him when she is challenged.

The taint of prostitution was so intimately linked with picaresque soldiering and tavern-keeping that Long Meg is accounted as a prostitute everywhere but in her telling of her own tale. The closest the original text comes to prostitution is a reference to her house at Islington where “oftentimes there resorted gentlewomen thither and divers brave courtiers and other men of meaner degree, [so that] her house was spoken of” (107). Even here her soldiering affects her tavern-keeping. While her biography itself does not detail any prostitution, the house she kept at Islington with “lodging and victuals for gentlemen and yeomen … surpassed all other victuallers in excess of company” was kept “quiet” (108) and peaceful through a series of posted rules which, while generous to the impoverished, were enforced by Meg's strong arm. The only reference to other women is in one of these house rules where, if a “ruffler [who caused] an alehouse brawl … would not manfully … fight a bout or two with Long Meg, the maids of the house should dry beat him and so thrust him out of doors” (Mish 108). Whether the maids were prostitutes is not clear, although the assumption in picaresque literature is that any tavern or inn provided maidservants as temporary prostitutes.

Contemporary reports attribute prostitution to her tavern. For example, a tract “The Golden Grove” by William Vaughan assumes that she is a bawd: “It is saide that Long Megg of Westminster kept alwaies twentie Courtezans in her howse, who by their pictures she solde to alle commers” (Burford 47). Mentioning the practice of advertising the prostitutes by their pictures ties Meg with the same practice used by the Renaissance courtesans, the Dutch and Flemish brothels, and by Holland Leaguer's, the most famous brothel of its time. Perhaps her military career may have gotten tangled up with Holland Leaguer's reputation for defending itself against attack by the law. Somewhere after 1562 and before 1578, Long Meg was the alleged owner of the Manor in that area around the Bankside, infamous from its mention in the twelfth century rules laid down for licensed brothels. According to the anonymous 1632 pamphlet, the estate called Holland's Leaguer was known for “the memorie of that famous Amazon, Longa Margarita who had there for manie yeeres kept a famous Infamous House of Open Hospitalitie” (Burford 46).

The autonomy of the English prostitute rests with the strange Elizabethan institution of Holland's Leaguer and again it involves actual people rather than literary ones. Holland's Leaguer was originally the estate known as the Liberty of Old Paris Gardens on the south bank of the river Thames, so called because it provided a natural defensive front with its moat and porticullis. Playwright Shackerley Marmion's tract describes it as “a Fort citadell or Mansion Howse so fortified and envyroned about with al maner [of] fortifications that ere any foe could approach it he must march more than a muskette shotte on a narow banke … betwixt two dangerous ditches … then a worlde of bulwarks rivers ditches trenches and outworkes” (Burford 53). Holland's Leaguer lay very near the three major theatres of the day—the Swan, the Globe, and the Hope-Bear-pit—outside the environs of London proper and subject to its own laws because it was an “ancient Liberty with rights of asylum … and with very ill-defined means of law enforcement even by the king's officers” (Burford 55). It was called “leaguer” because of the difficulty anyone would have in beleaguering or capturing it. Easily reached by city clients who could walk over London Bridge or ferry across the river, the brothel was equally approachable by the court.

Its uniqueness does not lie with its defensibility alone but in the famous procuress and prostitutes who were sheltered by its walls. E.J. Burford in his Queen of the Bawds claims that the majority of information comes from a 1632 tract, possibly by the playwright Shackerley Marmion whose later play uses the house of prostitution, Holland's Leaguer, as it title and the theme. The pamphlet creates an early history from sparse facts to concentrate on the life and adventures of a young London housewife in the 1590s. During the Elizabethan and Jacobean era, the most famous prostitute of her time was Elizabeth Holland or Dona or Madame Brittanica Holland. Lured to London by the glitter of court life, the girl entered into genteel “service” in the household of an city alderman where his pictures of famous classical “curitizans” or courtesans encouraged her that to “synne wysely was to synne safely” (16). Such influences affected her choice of occupations.

Like Aphra Behn's mysterious disappearing husband, Elizabeth Holland's husband apparently contributed only his name before retiring from the arena while his wife started a lucrative brothel in London near the playhouses. While Elizabeth's merchant-husband may actually have been a member of the Holland family who ruled the Elizabethan underworld, there is considerable doubt about which Holland, Elizabeth or otherwise, owned the brothel and, indeed, so many references to Hollands being fined for prostitution during those years may point to the existence of an entire family who governed the vice. While her husband's position as a merchant may have first served to introduce her into the international set in bustling London, her liaison with an Italian courtier Alberto Gentile encouraged Elizabeth to provide a brothel for multi-national foreigners, streaming into prosperous London.

What is of importance is that Elizabeth Holland changed her name to Madame Britannica Hollandia in keeping with the regulations, stemming back to Roman times, that registered prostitutes must adopt a professional name to avoid confusion with street walkers or casual prostitutes. Also, it would hardly be political wisdom for “London's most popular well-known high-class Brothel Queen” (40) to bear the name of the Queen. This change of name allowed Elizabeth to follow the old custom that brothel “madams were either Flemish (including Dutch) or French [and] that whores should bear fancy foreign names, in line with the tradition that continental harlots knew their business better than local British ones” (Burford 40). One contemporary critic complains of the Bankside stews that “English women disdayned to be Baudes; Froes (women) of Flaunders were women for that purpose” (40). One of Elizabeth's prostitutes was known as Longa Margarita whose name, beside being connected to Long Meg, may have been a variant of the Flemish saint Margaret who died defending her employers' or relatives' tavern from being robbed; many Flemish taverns are named after her.

The connection of the Netherlands, France, and Italy with prostitution is a frequent one in English literature. Burford cites an instance where the apprentices' annual Shrove Tuesday shutting down of the Shoreditch brothels forced a brewer-owner, a Mrs. Leake or Leeke of Flemish heritage, to protest to the courts. According to Burford, Holland's Leaguer in Paris Gardens was the “congregating place for all the Dutch Whores at the end of the 16th century, and was popularly known as Hollands Laager” (119), in imitation of the “famous ‘Schoen Majken’ (The lovely Little Maiden) in Brussels, renowned at this time for its excellence in every respect” (73); Holland Leaguer's popularity depended on the business-like atmosphere in which it was conducted, its good food, luxurious surroundings, modern plumbing, medical inspections, clean linens, and high class prostitutes. Thus, the Continental brothels made popular by the Elizabethan poets and sonneteers sported English whores imitating the Dutch or Flemish “froes” imitating Italian Renaissance cortesanos imitating Roman courtesans imitating Greeks hetairai.

The civil authorities always threatened brothels and Elizabeth, employing her girls in Duke Street, near the docks but within the town walls and jurisdiction, came under the London court's harsh punishments. In 1597 she was imprisoned in the infamous debtor's prison of Newgate charged with running a brothel. While Elizabeth's literary sisters—Moll, Amber—find themselves in the notorious prison as harlots or thieves awaiting the punitive sentence to Bridewell—the prison for rehabilitation or punishment for women—or transportation to the colonies, Elizabeth had enough money to buy a comfortable existence in the Newgate. She paid her fine for running a brothel but escaped the physical punishment and humiliation of a public whipping at a cart's tail by fleeing to sanctuary outside London's jurisdiction. Stung by the law's inroads into her affairs, she swore to fight off any forces which might seek to disrupt her again. Consequently, she leased the estate outside of London and entered history as the Dona Hollandia Britannica, madam of Holland's Leaguer.

Elizabeth's ability to be autonomous is her most outstanding quality in a business where she competed with skilled whoremasters like Henslowe and Edward Alleyn. Frank Chandler, sees her as the “English Celestina, who had taken up her abode on the south shore of the Thames in an establishment impregnable except to her well-wishers and furnishing for the moment the scandal of the town” (147). As the bawd of a thriving brothel, Elizabeth became the major subject of a pamphlet by Nicholas Breton and the minor subject of a play by Marmion, where she is rendered as a “fierce imperious creature full of defiant spirit” (Burford 89). She is able to defend her house against the law from within; ordered by Privy Council to surrender, she defied the law and abandoned the house without answering any summons with no trace of her being punished or fined. Thus, Holland's Leaguer lived up to its name by withstanding the law's beleaguering to give its mistress time to escape unharmed. Shortly afterwards a balladeer Lawrence Price who wrote in “News from Holland's Leaguer” that “Hollands Leaguer is lately broken up / This for Certain is spoken” suggests that disappointed young men keep a lookout for the new brothel “at Bewdley where they [prostitutes] keep their musters” (Burford 116).

Burford asserts that King James must have known and probably visited her establishment. This tradition of the courtesan's connection with the king pervades the literature of the picara as the ultimate goal to be achieved, even though the picara's fortunes invariably decline after her liaison with the king. Courage has affairs with the military “king” of her high-ranking captain; Roxana's liaison with the king is a highpoint of her life and her French prince is another. Amber's one-night stand with Charles II frustrates her when she is not called back and Becky's affair with Lord Steyne is the highest she goes in the nobility. Even Scarlett marries Rhett who sets out to be the “king” of Atlanta society so that his daughter can be the “princess.” (This concept carries over into the film version where the “King” of movieland, Clark Gable created the role of Rhett Butler.) Liaison with the king does not usually continue into the fantasy picaras, although the created worlds which they inhabit often boast a monarchy of sorts; the fantasy picaras do not sleep their way to fame; either they earn fame themselves or they have affairs with men whom they consider “kingly” by their picara standards.

If the vivid green of Elizabethan courtesans did not clash with the earthier greens of the bawdic imitations of Celestina, the green of English picara broadened to incorporate the subtle camouflage greens of the trickster / confidence women like Justina. For example, Mary Frith was better known as Moll Cutpurse, a term arising from her thieves' jargon as a gangster's woman, a “moll” or a “doll,” and from her specific occupation as a pickpocket. Best known through her alleged diary of 1662, Moll was probably a hermaphrodite, according to her biographer C.J.S. Thompson; she was brought up as a girl but soon adopted attire akin to that of the hobby horse—a doublet on the top and a skirt on the bottom. As an actual person, Mary appears in court records for wearing men's clothes for which she had to do public penance in St. Paul's. So disguised she joined a group of thieves or “land pyrates” (21) who preyed on tourists near Covent Garden and the theatrical neighborhoods. She fenced stolen items for a network of thieves and, using her reputation as a fortune-teller and finder of lost items, returned the stolen goods for a reward: “‘The world consists of the cheats and the cheated,’” Mary claimed and there was no doubt which side she favored.

Just as Elizabeth Holland was immortalized in drama, so also did actual English female rogues like Mary Frith appear in plays as subjects and possibly as actresses. According to William Macqueen-Pope, “there had been rumours of a woman appearing before at the Fortune Theatre in 1610, in a play by Middleton and Dekker called The Roaring Girle-or Moll Cutpurse. Presumably the character was drawn from life for the author in an epilogue promised that Moll herself should appear if the public wanted her to do so” (27). She was also mentioned in Field's 1618 play Amends for Ladies and, over a hundred years later, Defoe knew her so well that he referred to her in Applebee's Journal of March 23, 1723 and, very possibly, used some of her experiences as a base for Moll Flanders.

Criminal autobiography further formed the English picara. In the life of Mary Moders Carleton, who appears in James Kirkman's 1673 criminal biography, The Counterfeit Lady Unveil'd, was so popular that twenty-four books emerged on her between 1663 and 1673, according to Spiro Peterson's introduction to Kirkman. Mary Moders Carleton was a swindler and impersonator who for twenty years bilked unsuspecting dupes. Charged with bigamy, she fled to Germany where she so infatuated an old man that she was able to abscond with his money. Arriving in England again, she posed as an impoverished German princess, swindled several men and was charged with bigamy for her third marriage. In one escapade reminiscent of Defoe and Amber, she and her maid posed as young men to escape with their loot; in another, she pulled the “jealous husband” scam, blackmailing a young lawyer to preserve his reputation. When she was apprehended, she was sent to Newgate, transported to Jamaica, returned to London, arrested again and hanged in January 1673. Her life story reads like a summary of the picara's archetype; her use of male clothes as a disguise to escape prosecution is typical picaresque action; her willingness to deceive by altering her name is also. The German Princess, as she titled herself, possessed the picaresque elements of roguery, vanity, thievery, disguise and deception; so widespread was her influence that Defoe has Roxana title herself the German Princess (271). In fact, critic Ernest Bernbaum, the early editor of the Mary Carleton Narratives, sees a foreshadowing of Defoe when he states that “Kirkman maintains the manner commonly associated with Defoe … serious moral tone, minute depiction of occurrences, the coherence of plot, the tracing of the motives of the character and the elaborate creation of verisimilitude” (90).

Not all the picaras existed before 1700, however. Another set of more subtle shades influenced by increased realism, the sharper light of criticism, and the color-hungry readers created the picaras of Behn and Defoe, the immediate ancestresses of the novel picaras and the distant ancestresses of the fantasy picaras.

The beginnings of the novel show glimmers of the picara as a subject worth writing about. Nicholas Breton's The Miseries of Manuilla lacks the force of character associated with the picara because for, while Manuilla suffers the troubles of a defenseless young woman in a wicked world, she escapes the fate of the disillusioned picara by dying while she is still innocent. Aphra Behn's heroines, on the other hand, present a variety of types from innocent to villainess. Unusually strong in mind and in action, Behn's heroines are determined to pursue their survival. Philadelphia in A True History suffers a Clarissa-like brothel imprisonment by her brother, survives, and emerges as a rich and honored widow, capable of choosing her next husband. Arabella in The Wandering Beauty escapes from an unwanted marriage by a journey of flight and disguise, finally choosing the husband she wants. The villainesses exhibit the same ferocious feminism. Ardelia in The Nun: or The Perjured Beauty is lustful, malicious, and vengeful; Sylvia in Love Letters is little better than a nymphomaniac; the heroine of The Fair Vow-Breaker is so evil that she murders one man and accidentally kills her husband. The subjects which Behn selects range from an Oedipal incest motif in The Force of Imagination to vanity as a reason for murder in The Fair Jilt.

Defoe's female heroines are logical steps in the development of the picara from her mythical origins through her counterpart with the picaro. Using the older forms, Defoe is a pivotal writer whose works both reflect his traditions and forecast the future of the novel. Just as Richardson developed Pamela's epistolary style from his books of letters and Fielding developed his comic epic of Tom Jones from earlier satires, so did Defoe rework criminal autobiographies as major themes in his novels. With the wealth of picaresque literature at his disposal, Defoe was in the enviable position of creating the first picara who blends the awkward primary colors of the picaresque forms with the subtler shades of the novel heroines, while still remaining very much her own autonomous person.

An innovator seldom perfects the form and Defoe's attempts are not generally considered novels. While each of Defoe's novels is different and each one is sui generis, Defoe makes the prefaces of Robinson Crusoe, Colonel Jacque, Moll Flanders, and Roxana complement each other in their insistence on the autobiographical confessional intent as the sole motive for their writings. Crusoe uses a variant of the spiritual pseudo-autobiography: thus, “the story is told with modesty, with seriousness, and with a religious application of events to the uses to which wise men always apply them, viz. to the instruction of others by this example” (n.p.) In Moll, Defoe comments that “as the best use is to be made of even the worst story the moral 'tis hoped will keep the reader serious, even where the story might incline him to be otherwise” (3). With Roxana, however, Defoe departs from his cautious statement of purpose; although he maintains the facade that the novel is meant for instruction, its fullest impact centers on its entertainment value. Nor apparently did Defoe feel that Roxana needed much apology for its existence since, “the advantages of the present Work are so great, and the Virtuous Reader has room for such much Improvement, that we make no Question, the Story however meanly told, will find a Passage to his best Hours; and be read both with Profit and Delight” (2-3).

Although Moll Flanders has been accorded the title of Defoe's most picaresque work, his Roxana is the stronger example of our argument because she is a full-bodied, full-blooded picara. Critics stress only some of the picaresque traits within Moll: Alter calls her an “anti-heroine” (73): Monteser sees Moll as “in the direct tradition of the picara” while Roxana is only one of the “samples of the picaresque romance” (48). As Starr points out in his preface, Moll is closer to a criminal autobiography; he cites several actual persons whose lives may have been the sources for Moll but denies that she is wholly taken from any one person. By limiting her to criminal autobiography, Defoe is able to expand on this familiar theme of what Starr calls the “callousness of society towards the unprotected and the unproductive—orphans, debtors, criminals, single women without trades, and other marginal types” (xiv). Within the larger scope of the picaresque being discussed in this book, Moll comes up a poor second to Roxana as a picara who overrides her genre. This is not to deny that Moll is a picara. She is a fine one but one whose picaresqueness is limited to her ability as a thief, as a wanderer, as a prostitute because, after her picaresque birth and background, Moll's story swerves into conventional marriage and economic problems, with only the second half involving her picaresque journey. Roxana, on the other hand, is immersed in the picaresque from her first memory as an immigrant from France; while the stability of her early upbringing aligns her more with the Continental picara, she is early forced into prostitution and deception for her survival before her autonomy asserts itself. Roxana is a picara; Moll is picaresque.

In developing an updated picara, Defoe did not need to create a character beyond Roxana because he had reached the zenith; this only possibility lay in creating an imaginary heroine and that was too far from the historical and literary realities to suit him. In Roxana, Defoe flexes his novelistic muscles into the showmanship of an older genre rather than the creation of a new genre. Having once finished Roxana, he had exhausted the genre and Defoe was too practical a man to pursue a dying genre. No matter what critics decide ex post facto, Defoe's experience with Roxana did lead him back to expository prose and away from a fictional suitable for a novel. Ironically, as Defoe's last fiction, Roxana is his most critically neglected work because his other novels distract from it. Within the history of literature, Roxana has been seen from the wrong perspective. The novel is not an example of an early novel—an archetype of the eighteenth century fiction or a prototype of the sentimental heroine's tale of misfortune. Roxana is Defoe's version of picaresque novel about a picara and, as such, it exhibits his unique adaptation of all the picaresque traditions.

Yet, Roxana has long perplexed critics who felt comfortable with Moll's picaro origins but not with Roxana's picara origins. (One critic even commented that he suspected that Roxana enjoyed being a courtesan. Chandler considers Roxana to be “almost without emotion. She certainly wins no sympathy … with characters so perverse in motive, with personages who are simply puppets, it is only natural that the morality of ‘Roxana,’ should be external and distorted” (196-7). Maximillan Novak calls her “Defoe's least attractive character” (50); Harrison Steeves sees her as “vain, avaricious, hypocritical, and a ruinous influence” (33). Is it her flagrant sexuality that offends them; is it her feminine approach to the masculine world that disturbs them? Or is it that critics avoid Roxana because they cannot recognize the archetype of autonomy? For our argument, Roxana presents a sharp outline of what the picara has been, should be, and will be.

Departing from the creamy homespun wool and the primitive herbal or vegetable dyes of the early picaresque genres, the colors of the picara in these early novels began to imitate the industrial practices where yarn was spun on mechanical wheels, looms were owned by factory owners, and colors expanded in numbers to over two thousand shades for the tapestry. The subtlety of the picara's figure deepened as new shades of picaresque color were developed in a group of novels classified, for the sake of our argument, as the later “novel” picaras, to separate them from the picaras of Defoe.

Primary among them is Thackeray's Vanity Fair, that novel without a hero, which presents another version of the picara, one who has learned how to mingle in society while milking it. Here, the actual actions of the picaresque are masked in the satire of polite society, journeying through the Fair. Just as Becky's hunger theme has been transmuted into her greed for goods and security, Thackeray's Puppet Master device distances the author from his work and gives him a set of impartial archetypal patterns which the picaro, telling his own story, never achieves. Becky is not an autobiographer and the lack of this viewpoint must be assumed by Thackeray as he does when he defends his heroines for their actions. What he admires are Becky's survival techniques and, consequently, he stresses her autonomy. However, Amelia is equally a picara: as the emanation of the Widow of Windsor archetype, doting on her child and her memories, she fights mightily for her autonomy in a mass of sentiment and Thackeray is as critical of her as he is of Becky. But, while Amelia is an economic outsider, Becky is still the emotional outsider who cannot find a place in her society; nor does she care to as long as she has the means to survive. Just as the somber black of Amelia's widows' weeds is a fugitive dye, so also the sharper reds of Becky's villainy that tint her sandy hair pale into insignificant and unobtrusive pink when she achieves some measure of respectability.

In contrast, another redheaded modern picara Scarlett O'Hara in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind marches onto our tapestry, trailing the red clay of Tara in her wake. Critics claim that it is a satire on Mitchell's own culture as well as a reordering of the antebellum South. As a historical romance, it might be expected to end happily as its subsequent bodice-ripping novels do. But, of course, it does not. What Scarlett does is to rise above her literary romance heritage to become an archetype of the strong southern woman who insists on her own way; she is the first picara to become accessible in novel and film, the first to capture the popular imagination, the prime figure in our modern tapestry.

Another novel picara is Amber in Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber, written some ten years after Gone with the Wind and in direct imitation of it and of early picaresque forms and novels. Closely derivative of Moll Flanders, Roxana, and Scarlett, Winsor's use of historical details and scandalous liaisons made the book an instant bestseller with its recreation of Restoration England. By alternating chapters of the fictional life of Charles II, the novel differs from later historical novels by featuring a picaresque heroine in opposition to the well-balanced fictional biographies of historical figures such as those written by Jean Plaidy and Antonia Fraser and Norah Lofts. Amber has few morally redeeming values and the book was roundly condemned for its immorality by contemporary critics. So potent was the novel that Winsor carried autobiography to the ultimate by writing another book Star Money about her experiences as an author of a best-seller whose character became confused with her author in the eyes of the public. It too was made into successful film.

The last category of the picara is that of the fantasy picara who apparently developed from science fiction heroine. I say apparently because a quick look at the heroines of science fiction disproves this: in science fiction, the heroine is a pale appendage of the hero, the object of desire, usually sexual, the reward for the quest. She has no identity of her own because she seldom acts on her own; she lacks autonomy as she waits to be rescued. Not so the fantasy picara who is an autonomous hero who is a woman rather than a heroine. While she appears to have “ridden the coattails” of science fiction until she gained strength and identity to launch her own sub-genre in fantasy, we have only to look at her origins in the picara to see that such is not the case.

The fantasy picara is both the newest and the oldest picara. Built on the warp threads of the Great Goddess archetype, the picara is never far from any genre; in fantasy, she uses the background colors of the science fiction genre as foils to show off her skills but she is a clearly woven figure of her own. She is more than the feminine version of the hero because her quest is so vitally different; as a woman, she was different goals and different obstacles to overcome; her monsters are society's disapprovals, her mountains are galactic spaces, her hunger is for self-knowledge. The picara simply highlights the existing warp threads underlying her modern design because her autonomy demands full participation in any action involving her life. Furthermore, where science fiction is more hospitable to the nature and needs of science, fantasy includes the overwhelming need of the picara to tell her story.

The increase in women authors of fantasy and in the genre itself has made necessary some investigation as to why the fantasy heroine is a popular species. This leads immediately to the conclusion that the fantasy heroine often partakes of the nature of the picara, intentionally or unintentionally, consciously or unconsciously. The fantasy picara is an imperfect one because she is tinged with a humanism not found in early picaras. While she is motivated by the same needs—survival, hunger, traveling, adventure—as her sister/picaras, she is always subject to compassion. This somewhat limits her, as a fully functioning picara. Because the fantasy picara inhabits a created world and not a real one, she is seldom in science fiction which limits technology to that which is in existence. The fantasy picara can extend into the realm of fantasy in her use of pseudo-scientific psychic powers or magical powers which enable her to cope in a created or unreal world. That she carries over the same worries as a woman in the real world and how she handles them make her a picara. To maintain interest, the authors of fantasy, usually women, must create a sympathetic woman who upholds general moral principles; who does not destroy unnecessarily; who is reluctant to kill but will when forced to; who is an outsider but who does not refuse human companionship when it is offered; who abjures sexual morals for whatever feels good but who is responsible for her actions; who uses but does not abuse people; who judges all according to her standards; who rejects the double standard for sex and for power; who resists slavery of any sort as death to human spirit; who retains her autonomy despite the struggles of her society to remove it from her.

Many of these women authors have created several picaras: Jo Clayton has created Alyetys of the Diadem series of nine novels, Skeen with three novels, Brann of the Drinker of Souls series with two, Serroi of Moonscatter with three. Sharon Green has created Diana Santee of the Spaceways series with two novels, Jalav the Amazon warrior with five novels, Terrilian with five novels; Inky in The Mists of Ages series of two novels. Marion Zimmer Bradley has numerous picaras in her many novels of the Darkover planet as well as her Lythande of the short stories and her Zygydiek of the warrior stories. Other authors have one or more: Elizabeth A. Lynn has many picaras in her three Tornor novels and several in other works. Ann Maxwell has Rheba in the three Firedancer novels. Suzy McKee Charnas has Alldera in her two utopian novels. Jan Morris has Estri in the three High Couch of Silistra novels. Joan D. Vinge has a mother/daughter set in her two novels of Tiamet; Pamela Sargent has one in The Shore of Women and several others in other novels. Judith Ann Karr has two novels about Thorn and Frostflower; Joanna Russ has Alyx in the Paradise novels and Jan in the Whileaway novels. Vonda McIntyre has one major picara in Dreamsnake and lesser ones in The Exile Waiting. And there are many other novelists in the mainstream of science fiction/fantasy genre with others whose heroines are peripherally picaras.

As our investigation of the picaresque elements are defined, identified and classified, different aspects of these novels will be identified as being picaresque. No one single archetypal pattern flashes through every story but the persistence of the pattern in all the stories appears most often in fantasy. We shall trace important traits through the four steps of the picara mentioned—the early, the Puritan, the Victorian, and the fantasy—to attempt to establish the fluctuating presence of the picara. Even before we turn to the literary characteristics, the picara has accumulated her major traits of thievery, deception, disguise, sexual excess and avarice. She has become an autonomous, irascible, financially avaricious bawd who does not beget children nor nourish them, who does not align herself with anything but her own survival.

Autonomy is still the highlighting white which catches and disperses the light in the tapestry. The mix of traits provides a varied palette of colors to use, colors which are more freely mixed to enrich the personal identity of the picara. Restricted by the cultural or religious mores of male authors, the picara stands in her glaring yellow shade of the veil that the Renaissance courtesans had to wear. After the passage of time, the individual colors of the tapestry become more muted and more complementary and therefore harder to discern. Trying to explicate one strand of color from an entire tapestry involves touching all other colors forcing many levels of the picara to be discussed in each chapter; trying to give precedence to one color over another is a useless occupation. The patterns and combinations of colors may change but the primary colors of the picaresque blend into the subtle and complex tones of the picara's tapestry.

Each chapter that follows will try to isolate one or more colorful strands of the picaresque traits, identify its picaresque origins, trace its development in all levels of the picara—early, Defoe, novel, and fantasy. Because many traits overlap in time and emphasis, the order of the chapters is somewhat arbitrary as all the colors are needed to see the figure of the picara clearly. Each chapter will present picaresque color-traits which are either complementary or contradictory to each other but which are necessary shades to the tapestry.

Works Cited

Alter, Robert. The Rogue's Progress: Studies in the Picaresque Novel. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1965.

Bernbaum, Ernest. The Mary Carleton Narratives (1663-73) Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1914.

Brenan, Gerald. The Literature of the Spanish People. New York: Meridian, 1957.

Burford, E. J. Queen of the Bawds or The True Story of Madame Britannica Hollandia and her House of Obsenitie, Hollands Leaguer. London: Spearman, 1973.

Chandler, Frank W. The Literature of Roguery. 2 volumes New York: Random, 1958.

———Romances of Roguery. New York: Franklin, 1899, 1961.

Chandler, Richard E. and Kessel Schwartz. A New History of Spanish Literature. Baton Rouge LA: Louisiana UP, 1961.

Grimmelshausen, Hans Jacob Christoffel, von. Courage the Adventuress and The False Messiah. Trans. Hans Speier. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1964.

———Simplicius Simplicissimus. Trans. George Schulz-Behrend. New York: Bobbs Merrill, 1965.

Lawner, Lynne. Lives of the Courtesans: Portraits of the Renaissance. New York: Rizzoli, 1987.

Life of Long Meg of Westminster, The. Anchor Anthology of Short Fiction of the Seventeenth Century, Charles Mish, ed. Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1963.

Macqueen-Pope, William. Ladies First: The Story of Women's Conquest of the British Stage. London: Allen, 1952.

Monteser, Frederick. The Picaresque Element in Western Literature. Alabama: Alabama UP, 1975.

Novak, Maxmillian E. “Crime and Punishment in Defoe's Roxana,” JEGP, LXV (July 1966): 445-65.

Parker, Alexander A. Literature and the Delinquent: The Picaresque Novel in Spain and Europe 1599-1753. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1967.

Rojas, Fernando de. The Spanish Bawd: La Celestina Being the Tragic-Comedy of Calisto and Melibea. Trans. J.M. Cohen. Baltimore, MD: Penguin, 1964.

Sieber, Harry. The Picaresque. London: Methuen, 1977.

Starr, George A. Defoe and Spiritual Autobiography. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1965.

Thackeray, William M. Vanity Fair. John W. Dodds, introduction. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1955.

Thompson, Bertha. Sister of the Road. New York: Macauley, 1937.


Criticism: The Picaro


Further Reading