Lazarillo is the first of the Spanish picaresque novels and was published in 1554 in Burgos and Alcala and Antwerp; it was published anonymously and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza is only the most popular candidate for authorship. My edition was translated by Michael Alpert and published by Penguin in 1969.
Picaresque novels are slightly unstructured and follow the adventures of a 'picaro', a rogue. Lazaro is a young lad whose mother gives him as servant to a blind beggar; he then works for a priest, then an impoverished nobleman and other masters. It is amusing and very short (fewer than 60 pages). It reminded me of Candide without the characterisation and the philosophy.
There were some great moments:
- "We find very few authors who are prepared to write just for themselves. After all, it's not easy to write a book and if they go to the trouble they want to be rewarded, not financially but with the knowledge that their work is bought and read and praised if it deserves praise." (Prologue)
- "Cicero says 'Honour encourages the arts'. Who thinks that the soldier who reaches the top of the scaling-ladder first hates like the most? No, of course he doesn't; it's desire for praise that makes him expose himself to danger. It's the same in the case of the arts and in literature." (Prologue)
- "How many people must there be in the world who run away from others in fright because they can't see themselves?" (Ch 1)
- "Charity had not only begun at home but stayed there too." (Ch 3)
- "So skinny that he looked like a pedigree greyhound" (Ch 3)
- "I had to find a fourth employer and he turned out to be a friar of the Order of Mercy. ... I left him because ... of one or two things that I'd rather not mention." (Ch 4)
Extremely short, easy to read and amusing. April 2021
|This review was written by|
the author of Motherdarling