The father of Pablos is a thief, his mother is a witch, his uncle is a hangman. He becomes the servant of Don Diego, a young gentleman, accompanying him to boarding school where he goes hungry. Eventually he becomes a rogue, making money using any tricks he can: including theft, beggary, and card-sharping.
This is a classic picaresque, set in 1600s Spain. It is knockabout stuff, frequently scatological, which reminded me of the crude humour of the Carry On films, but without their subtlety and euphemisms. There is no character development, unless you count the gradual learning of new tricks. It presumably provides an insight into the society of that place and time (clothes, frequently threadbare, play an important part and everyone is on the make; he spends some time in prison and the author was at one time a governor of a prison so he must have known what he was talking about) but many of the jokes are too obvious to be very funny and in the end I grew a little weary. The ending is abrupt, as if the author ran out of things to say.
But it had its moments:
- "You are well aware of the price of this book, as you have already bought it, unless you are looking through it in the bookshop, a practice which is very tiresome for the bookseller and ought to be suppressed with the utmost rigour of the law." (To the Reader)
- "They brought in little bowls of a soup so clear that if Narcissus had drunk it he would have fallen in quicker than into the pool." (1.3)
- "I had no right to take anything more out of the house than my shadow." (1.8)
April 2021, 131 pages
|This review was written by |
the author of Motherdarling