WLIT-Picaresque Lecture

WLIT-Picaresque Lecture - Themes, Motifs, and General...

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Themes, Motifs, and General Characteristics of the Picaresque Narrative 1. Social Change and Romantic Misoneism Rowland Sherrill, in Road Book America: Contemporary Culture and the New Picaresque , suggests that the picaresque genre arises as a response to times of social, political, and economic upheaval. Spain, in the time of Lazarillo de Tormes , was in a state of vast upheaval: increasing power of merchant class, increasing scientific discoveries invalidating old faiths, increasing rural to urban migrations, etc. In short, the medieval worldview couldn’t hold. Literature, ranging from chivalric romances to morality plays, erupted in a type of misoneistic response attempting to reinforce the older ideologies. The picaresque was initially a reaction to what could be referred to as a knee- jerk propaganda, but was also an effort to understand, or as Sherrill would say, catalogue, this new social terrain. Rural peasants flooded cities, causing problems for the middle and upper classes, creating low classes full of poverty, crime, hunger, etc. Constant conflict between nations and even regions marked the time period. Advances in mathematics, astronomy, optics, anatomy – the sciences – undermined old
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WLIT-Picaresque Lecture - Themes, Motifs, and General...

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