The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities is a Spanish novella, published anonymously because of its anticlerical content. It was published simultaneously in three cities in 1554: Alcalá de Henares, Burgos and Antwerp. The Alcalá de Henares edition adds some episodes which were most likely written by a second author. It is most famous as the book establishing the style of the picaresque satirical novel.
A whimsical collection of stories about a wandering street urchin, Lazarillo de Tormes is a classic of the Spanish Golden Age, even paid homage in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Rendered homeless by the arrest of his father and poverty of his mother, the boy Lazarillo has no choice but to go out and find masters to serve. Unfortunately, each of his masters is worse than the one before, and in each case Lazarillo is cast upon his own wits in order to survive. Clever, hungry, and desperate, he always has a sharp eye for lessons on how to outwit the greedy and unscrupulous people who surround him. There is much of wit and humor in this little book, but the anonymous author obviously also intends to expose the brutal inequalities of society, especially toward children and women. Many of his arrows are aimed directly at the Church and its representatives, which explains why the author chose to remain anonymous, slyly publishing the book in three different cities simultaneously, and why the authorship of Lazarillo is still a mystery almost 500 years later
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