Picaresque Literature of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

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Wicks, Ulrich. “A Picaresque Bibliography.” Genre 5, no. 2 (1972): 193-216.

Lists scholarship in both English and Spanish focusing on genre issues. This bibliography is not annotated.


Alter, Robert. Rogue's Progress: Studies in the Picaresque Novel. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964, 148 p.

Suggests a middle path for defining the picaresque genre as both historically specific and evolving dramatically over time; this study examines picaresque narratives of the eighteenth century and after.

Atkinson, William. “Studies in Literary Decadence.” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 4, no. 13 (1927): 19-27.

Suggests social and cultural factors contributing to the rise of the picaresque in sixteenth-century Spain, maintaining that the genre began to falter by the mid-seventeenth century.

Beberfall, Lester. “The Pícaro in Context.” Hispania 37, no. 3 (1954): 288-92.

Argues that the picaro characters in Guzmán de Alfarache and Moll Flanders are morally redeemed.

Bjornson, Richard. The Picaresque Hero in European Fiction. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977, 308 p.

Places the development of the picaresque novel in the context of the rise of bourgeois individualism, observing that the perspective of the picaro reflects the social and economic evolution of European culture.

Blackburn, Alexander. The Myth of the Picaro: Continuity and Transformation of the Picaresque Novel, 1554-1954. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979, 267 p.

Draws from Guillén's assertion of a picaresque myth to define the picaro, emphasizing historical notions of individualism, the self, and the soul.

Chandler, Frank Wadleigh. Literature of Roguery. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1907, 584 p.

Traces the development of the rogue character, or anti-hero, in English literature, considering Spanish picaresque narratives as a source.

Chandler, Frank Wadleigh. Romances of Roguery: An Episode in the History of the Novel. 2 vols. London, Macmillan, 1899, 483 p.

Focuses on the rogue character primarily in Spanish literature, including the picaresque novel. This study also discusses the role of the picaresque genre in the overall development of fiction.

Chesterton, G. K. “The Romance of a Rascal.” In The Common Man, pp. 42-9. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1950.

Discusses the evolution of picaresque narratives through the English novel.

Clarke, Henry Butler. “The Spanish Rogue-Story (Novela de Pícaros).” In Studies in European Literature, Being the Taylorian Lectures, 1889-1899, pp. 313-49. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900.

Reviews the appearance of the rogue, or picaro, character is Spanish literature from La celestina through Quevedo's El buscón.

Crawford, J. P. Wickersham. “The Picaro in the Spanish Drama of the Sixteenth Century.” In Schelling Anniversary Papers, by His Former Students, pp. 107-16. New York: The Century Company, 1923.

Examines the comedies of early sixteenth-century Spain to find evidence of the picaro character, considering the influence of Lazarillo de Tormes on the Spanish stage of this period.

Dooley, D. J. “Some Uses and Mutations of the Picaresque.” Dalhousie Review 37, no. 4 (1958): 363-77.

Compares a variety of picaresque novels from the sixteenth century to the present to determine how elements of the picaresque endured and changed over the centuries.

Dunn, Peter N. Spanish Picaresque Fiction: A New Literary History. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993, 335 p.

Analysis of the major works of Spanish picaresque narratives in terms of their realism and representation of the self.

———. The Spanish Picaresque Novel. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979, 166 p.

Surveys the major works of the picaresque canon, focusing on the development of the genre through each text.

Durán, Manuel. “Picaresque Elements in Cervantes' Works.” In The Picaresque: Tradition and Displacement, edited by Giancarlo Maiorino, pp. 226-47. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Discusses Cervantes's response to the picaresque, including his modification of certain picaresque...

(This entire section contains 1083 words.)

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elements in Don Quixote. Durán suggests that Cervantes developed a more sophisticated form of the realism pioneered by the picaresque.

Frohock, W. M. “The Idea of the Picaresque.” Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 16 (1967): 43-52.

Addresses the question of genre, suggesting that the term “picaresque” should identify works from any culture or era as long as the meet certain basic criteria, which he narrowly defines.

Grass, Roland. “Morality in the Picaresque Novel.” Hispania 42, no. 2 (1959): 192-98.

Focuses on the three major picaresques—Lazarillo, Guzmán, and El buscón—to argue that the picaresque does have a moral element.

Miller, Stuart. The Picaresque Novel. Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University Press, 1967, 164 p.

Examines formal characteristics of the picaresque—including character, point of view, and plot—as well as discussing the picaresque as a literary genre.

Paulson, Ronald. “Picaresque Narrative: The Servant-Master Relation.” In The Fictions of Satire, pp. 58-73. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1967.

Describes the servant-master relationship as an essential element of picaresque satire.

Rico, Francisco. The Spanish Picaresque Novel and the Point of View. Translated by Charles Davis and Harry Sieber. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, 148 p.

Discusses the development of point of view in the picaresque through the major Spanish novels.

Rodríguez-Luis, Julio. “Pícaras: The Modal Approach to the Picaresque.” Comparative Literature 31, no. 1 (1979): 32-46.

Argues that early Spanish picaras are not truly picaresque, proposing Moll Flanders as the first true female picaresque character.

Sieber, Harry. The Picaresque. London, Methuen, 1977, 85 p.

Outlines the development of the picaresque novel from its Spanish origins to its appropriation by English and other European authors.

Smith, Paul Julian. “The Rhetoric of Representation in Picaresque Narrative.” In Writing in the Margin: Spanish Literature of the Golden Age, pp. 78-126. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.

Analyzes literary representation in Lazarillo, Guzmán, and El buscón using insights from modern theorists, including Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault.

Stamm, James R. “The Use and Types of Humor in the Picaresque Novel.” Hispania 42, no. 4 (1959): 482-87.

Places the humor found in early Spanish picaresques into classifications such as parental humor, folkloric stories, puns and other forms of verbal humor, social satire, and scatological humor.

Whitbourn, Christine J. “Moral Ambiguity in the Spanish Picaresque Tradition.” In Knaves and Swindlers: Essays on the Picaresque Novel in Europe, edited by Christine J. Whitbourn, pp. 1-24. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Looks back to early antecedents of the picaresque novel to demonstrate the centrality of moral ambiguity to the development of the genre, linking this ambiguity the unreliable narrators of picaresque narratives.

Wicks, Ulrich. “Picaro, Picaresque: the Picaresque in Literary Scholarship.” Genre 5, no. 2 (1972): 153-92.

Outlines contemporary approaches to the problem of the picaresque genre.

———. “Onlyman.” Mosaic 8, no. 3 (1975): 21-47.

Defines an aspect of the picaresque as the exile or exclusion of the picaro, discussing such modern works as Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as well as the major Spanish picaresque novels.

———. “The Nature of the Picaresque Narrative: A Model Approach.” PMLA 89, no. 2 (1974): 240-49.

Proposes the concept of a picaresque “mode” to address the difficulties in defining the picaresque as a genre and establishes several criteria for defining the picaresque.


Criticism: The Picara