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THE PICARESQUE NOVEL The picaresque novel has been defined as a realistic portrayal of criminal life in which criminals and their tricks constitute the chief source of interest. The word Picaresque has been derived from Spanish word picaro which means a knave or a rogue. The picaresque novel is therefore the life story of a rogue or picaro, a clever and amusing adventurer of low social class. The story is usually narrated in the first person as autobiography. Episodic in nature, the plot consists of a series of thrilling incidents only slightly connected and strung together without organic relationship. The hero wanders from place to place and from job to job. The wanderings and adventures enable the picaro to meet people of all classes— bankers, politicians, the clergy, doctors, lawyers etc. he is thus provided with the opportunity of satirising the hypocrisy and corruption of a whole society. The picaresque novel is anti-romantic in character and attacks the romance of chivalry so
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