"A poor, hungry plot": Lazarillo de Tormes in English translation and the episodic structure of the Picaresque.
English editions of Lazarillo during this period are especially noteworthy because theorizations of the picaresque, starting with Francisco Rico's La novela picaresca y el punto de vista (1970), have often emphasized Lazarillo 's teleological drive toward the "final situation" as crucial to the unity and significance of the narrative. Though deviations from the original were possibly due to careless editorial practices, the alternative endings colored the way that readers interpreted the text as well as the way that it was regarded as exemplary of a particular kind of narrative. In assessing the divergence between the Spanish original and English translation, we should ask ourselves to what degree these deviations might have, in fact, acted as formative influences within the transnational picaresque tradition--not just editorial errors but evolutionary mutations that became part of the genetic code of the picaresque, as it were. Lazarillo's iconic status as origin and primary example of the picaresque makes the task of tracking its influence both more pressing and more difficult because examining the publication history shows that there was not just one Lazarillo but there have been many Lazarillos. One might even say that the macrohistory of Lazarillo's publication history recapitulates the episodic form of the text itself, as the protagonist has adapted to various sociohistoric and generic contexts.
The picaresque has long been understood to involve the interface between the protagonist and his or her sociohistorical context, or "the interaction between a growing individual and his environment." (3) English language editions of Lazarillo embodied this dynamic and reciprocally transformative relationship between protagonist and social context, though, less as growth than as oscillating rhythm, less as teleology than as the barometer of continuous individual and collective transformation. The picaresque's thematization of dynamic social processes makes it especially sensitive to analogical correspondences between social and literary norms because of the way that its episodic narrative structure maps the social terrain. Each additional episode provides a glimpse into another layer of the social world and their sum total contributes to the sense that the protagonist suffers abuses from every strata of society in turn.
With this in mind, the publication history of Lazarillo offers the potential to contribute to less teleological literary history, one based less on its contribution to the modern novel than its participation in an alternative tradition of narrating the lives of the destitute. While there is a considerable amount of work on Lazarillo and poverty, most of this work is limited to the sixteenth-century Spanish context of the original text. (4) The English publication history of the picaresque bears out changing attitudes toward poverty because of the ways in which editors and translators altered Lazarillo to appeal to and influence existing attitudes toward paupers. While some editors used the text to stoke anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic sentiments, other editors exploited it for its affinity with sensational rogue narratives that associated poverty with criminal behavior. Such editorial interventions had formal as well as thematic consequences as they modified the overall design of the text. For readers across the centuries, the net effect of these changes was to contribute to the sense that the protagonist was subject to forces beyond his control that shaped his fate. The nature of the protagonist's character was formed by external circumstances, not only by his masters but also by the printers that framed his story with paratextual commentary.
In literary terms, the episodic form of Lazarillo provides a medium for representing the nature of the protagonist's lack of autonomy in terms of narrative structure. While not all episodic narratives are picaresque, the episodic structure of the picaresque registers the aggregation of external causes that force themselves upon the protagonist as constitutive of the condition of poverty. The picaresque suggests that poverty can best be understood in narrative form--through the aggregation of unfortunate circumstances that the protagonist is unable to overcome. External causes exert their influence over the protagonist both as personal and impersonal forces--embodied as the protagonist's series of masters and also as his ongoing bodily needs. In the original text, the retrospective Lazaro recounts his history of victimization as an alibi for aspersions cast on his character. In English editions, the history of victimization (which is longer and more varied) lends itself more generally to questions of individual autonomy by pointing to the overwhelming series of external causes that determine the protagonist's fate seemingly without end.
Traditional accounts of the novel have stressed autonomy as a concept that contributed both to novelistic form and to early modern socioeconomic theory in canonical exemplars such as Robinson Crusoe. (5) Existing scholarship on literary representations of poverty have typically seen the novel as a form complicit in codification of modern social categories that tend to occlude extreme destitution, focusing attention on the experiences of the rising middle class instead of the stagnating material realities of the poor. (6) The publication history of Lazarillo shows that the text served as a vivid counterexample to more optimistic and progressive narratives of individualism and overcoming adversity by withholding the satisfactions of narrative closure. Understanding Lazarillo's contribution to literary history in contrast to, rather than in service of, the rise of the novel requires us to alter our preconceptions as some of the most influential theories of the picaresque have gained traction by reading Lazarillo in the context of the rise of the novel. Whether it is regarded as an influential precursor or as the first modern novel in its own right, Lazarillo has served as a touchstone for theorists of the novel such as Mikhail Bakhtin and Michael McKeon. (7) While it is clear that picaresque texts such as Lazarillo did influence novelistic practices, they also resisted being integrated completely into the novelistic tradition as it gained ascendance. From the mock-aristocratic inflection of the titular "de Tormes" to the choice of subject matter (a servants struggle to survive) nominally beneath consideration, the text sharply parodies popular forms of chivalric and pastoral romance, undoubtedly providing inspiration for Cervantes and his heirs. (8) More recent work on Lazarillo has reacted against the retrospective disfigurations of previous efforts by attempting to "lay aside the question of the picaresque genre" and study the text in its own terms. (9) Much of the confusion arises, though, out of the failure to distinguish between picaresque and novelistic narrative structures. (10)
One of the most successful tactics for yoking the picaresque and the novel has been to emphasize Lazarillo's formal unity. Francisco Rico argues that Lazarillo's narrative structure can be unified through the protagonist's point of view, and therefore be seen as novelistic, by understanding it through what he refers to as the "final situation." All incidents are meant to explain how the protagonist ends up as willing cuckold: "those elements to which one would initially ascribe a purely autonomous value are now revealed as being full of structural significance, in so far as they are seen to be subordinated to a unifying design." (11) If we attend to the "unifying design" of the text, Lazarillo is anything but episodic and the narrative demonstrates sophisticated self-consciousness and reflexivity, justifying the inclusion of every seemingly random episode in service of the final situation. According to Rico, the text makes "subjectivity the measure of all things" and therefore obeys a "novelistic impulse." (12) Despite such language, Rico judiciously avoids claiming Lazarillo's influence on Defoe and Fielding, instead arguing that the picaresque was a kind of "dead-end street" of literary history, which could not coexist with the reigning ideology. Other readers, though, have been more explicit about fashioning continuities between Spanish picaresque and English novel. (13)
Rico's argument hinges on two aspects of the prologue. First, the prologue is addressed to an esteemed reader referred to at various points in the second person as Vuestra Merced or "Your Honour." Second, the prologue makes it clear that the whole of the narrative is rhetorically calibrated toward explaining a particular situation or case. Lazarillo writes, "Y pues Vuestra Merced escribe se le escriba y relate el caso muy por extenso, paresciome no tomalle por el medio, sino del principio, porque se tenga entera noticia de mi persona." (14) [And seeing that you have commanded me to write the matter at length, I have thought good not to begin the midst of my life, but first to tell you of my birth, that all men may have full knowledge of my person. (15)] The narrator displays reflective consciousness of beginnings, middles, and ends by constructing a narrative out of his adventures, tailored to the final situation. In the prologue, the protagonist is undoubtedly conscious of the power of narrative to fabricate a "persona" [self] out of the events of his life.
Generic accounts of the picaresque have taken a cue from Rico's reading and many definitions of the picaresque as a genre hinge on treating the telos of the text as the lynchpin of its unity. Rico's argument gains credence from the other major exemplar of the genre; Guzman de Alfarache (1599, 1604), the successor to Lazarillo, also retrospectively reconstructs events from a final situation. For Guzman, it is the gallows that provides the anchoring retrospective viewpoint, projecting hortatory wisdom back from a reformed perspective and moralizing unseemly behavior in relation to a final situation that prompts confession and conversion. Writing of Lazarillo and Guzman, Peter Dunn argues, "both narratives achieve their end in the act of writing itself, and both narrators reach a final stasis that resolves their earlier striving." (16) More recently, J. A. G. Ardila has offered a definition of the picaresque that demonstrates the further influence of Rico's reading of Lazarillo. Like Dunn, Ardila develops Rico's claim into a way of unifying the picaresque as a genre: "A picaresque novel tells the life of its protagonist in order to explain a final situation." (17) Each of these critics makes the protagonist's retrospective reflections into the medium of narrative unity. These attempts to emplot Lazarillo within literary history tend to take the 1554 editions as the authoritative text yet Lazarillo's publication history tells a different, less unified story. (18)
While Francisco Rico's reading is possible in regards to the Spanish language versions of Lazarillo published in 1554, it does not hold for English language editions published in the next few hundred years. No edition published in English ended with the narrator's account of his wife's dubious relationship with the archpriest and the protagonist's comments on having arrived at the height of his "good fortune." Additionally, English language editions beginning in 1653 omitted the "Prologue" and subsequent editions entirely eliminated Lazaros estimable interlocutor, Vuestra Merced. Instead of culminating in the original "final situation," English language editions starting with David Rowland's translation conclude with the fabric of the protagonist's domestic situation beginning to tear. This is significant because it compromises the progressive narrative of upward mobility offered in the prologue, as well as the coherence of the narrative self who tells the story.
Every English edition from 1586 until the 1908 translation includes an apocryphal chapter that describes Lazaros friendship with a group of Dutch courtiers, who introduce him to plentiful food and drink and then leave town as suddenly as they arrived. The episode originated as the first chapter of an anonymous sequel, capitalizing on Lazarillo's popularity and seemingly open-ended conclusion. The topical reference was to Carlos's forays into Castilean towns (including Lazarillo's Toledo) in the 1520s, during which Carlos's retinue was seen as an extravagant burden on the Castilian people. Those who witnessed Carlos's court were horrified at the spectacle of profligate spending in the midst of pronounced poverty and escalating tax burdens. One historian remarks, "The behaviour of the King's Flemish suite had made an indelible impression on the mind of those who had seen it--which meant in practice, the towns of north and central Castile." (19) The sight of such obvious disparity between luxury and destitution was one of the motivating forces of the comuneros revolt, a groundswell political uprising that some scholars have plausibly linked to the spirit of the original Lazarillo. (20)
While historically inclined scholars have registered the existence of the spurious chapter in English translations, theorists of the picaresque have had less to say about its implications for the coherence of claims about the genre in a transnational context. A relatively recent bilingual edition of the Rowland translation purges what it refers to as the "spurious" chapter, with a note that it is "redundant" to the original Spanish text. (21) If Rico had nothing to say about the problems that translations of Lazarillo posed for his reading, it is for the obvious reason that his argument was solely directed toward the original text and was never meant to extend to the loose translations that were produced decades and centuries after the original.
The inclusion of the Dutch episode in the 1586 edition raises the question why Rowland would have included it all, seeing as how it refers to events at some remove from the contemporary political landscape. Rather than considering the inclusion a mistake, Julio-Cesar Santoyo, who was one of the first to document in detail the problems with the English editions, argues that Rowland had access to one of the Spanish editions, based on variations between the French and English translations. (22) One possible explanation for the inclusion of the Dutch episode is that Rowland was more interested in stressing the sociohistorical context than in preserving the original narrative structure. He writes in the dedicatory epistle, "here is also a true description of the nature & disposition of sundry Spaniards" (3). Critics have long pointed to Rowland's preface as evidence of his interest in highlighting Spanish customs. By this logic, Rowland was less interested in the protagonist's individual psychology than in the question of comparative historical and political realities. By treating Spanish history as the background against which to measure contemporary affairs, Rowland seems to ask the reader to consider shifting social structures as formative influences on the life of the protagonist. George Turbevile's verse epilogue, which concludes the text, echoes Rowland's intentions by lauding the author "That plainly pens the Spaniards pranks / and how they live in Spain" (75). Lazarillo is not an end in himself but a means of illustrating cultural practices, be they static or dynamic in nature. The Dutch episode, spurious or not, provides further material for comparative cultural analysis by framing Lazarillos narrative in concrete historical events. Critics have linked English interest in picaresque texts to international politics as a means of stoking anti-Spanish sentiments but also as part of more ambivalent global attitudes. (23) Though it is difficult to know just how much Rowland and his readers would have been aware of the actual events that inspired the episode, its presence situates the protagonist in relation to the audacious improvidence of Carlos Vs reign.
In the original Spanish text, the 1554 editions couple the protagonist's good fortune in his final situation to the seemingly insignificant coincidence of history at large and biographical microhistory: "Esto fue el mesmo ano que nuestro victorioso emperador en esta insigne ciudad de Toledo entro y tuvo en ella Cortes y se hicieron granded regocijos y fiestas" (177). ["This was the same yeere that our victorious Emperour entred into this noble city of Toledo, wher his court was kept with great feastes and triumphes" (71)]. These words, which provide the inspirational seed for the apocryphal ending--the Dutchmen are courtiers in Carlos's entourage--have spurred some critics to put forth an alternative to Rico's reading of Lazarillo. James Parr stresses the inclusion of this seemingly minor detail, suggesting that the main force of the satire is directed toward "the emperor's imperialist policy, which has contributed to creation of society of inverted values." (24) Parr continues, "The force of hunger is also explained as consequence of this policy; the period's economic problems arise in a great measure from the enormous expenses that were required." (25) Ongoing and expensive military conflicts with the Ottoman Empire and in the colonial world had stretched the Spanish economy to austerity. Lazaros fate, by this logic, is a side effect of government policy rather than a consequence of his individual choices. (26) With the new ending, the final situation has less to do with Lazaros subjectivity than with the contemporary political landscape. Rather than making Lazaros temporary prosperity the effect of "force and industry," it is the spoils of a wasteful and injudicious regime, by way of association.
The implications for retrospective unity of the text are large. In terms of narrative structure, what the additional chapter seems to suggest is that closure, if instantiated in terms of fortune or prosperity, remains elusive for the upwardly mobile protagonist. While the original text preserves a sense that the protagonist is able to, in Dunn's words, "achieve his end in writing itself," the apocryphal episode concludes with a meditation on the inability of the author to represent his life in writing due to unspeakable extremities of distress that unfold after the curtain drops. The lines that closed the three English editions between 1586 and 1624 emphasize the capriciousness of fortune rather than its alliance with individual effort:
I continued in this estate, until that fortune thought that she had now given me too much ease, and that she thought it reason for her to turn back and shew me again her severe and cruel visage, to temper those few years which I passed at ease, with as much more travail and deadly sorrow, which now I should endure. (O great God) who is able to write so unfortunate & miserable a case, but must let the Inkhorn rest and put the pen to his eyes? (74)
In the final lines, Lazaro questions his own ability to fashion any kind of narrative out of his misfortunes. Just who "is able to write so unfortunate & miserable a case" is a question that remains implicit in the Spanish text but comes to the fore in the English translation with the alternative ending. The spurious chapter allows the traditional image of the wheel of fortune to rotate just a degree further than in the original, sending the hero spiraling back into distress.
The doleful turn in the final sentence of Rowlands Lazarillo recasts the teleological arc of the narrative from comic rise to tragic fall. Lazaros threat to put the "pen to his eyes" recalls (and perhaps parodies) Oedipus's self-blinding, and, rather than concluding the text "at the height of my good fortune," Rowland's edition culminates the exact moment before Lazaros life disintegrates back into hardship. By ironically associating himself with a tragic hero, Lazaro suggests that we regard him as a victim of fateful circumstances rather than as a Machiavellian social climber. The pen, which, according to Rico and Dunn, ought to be the instrument of self-definition, causes blindness rather than vision. Attempting to give narrative shape to one's life is futile. Narrative vanishes into the anguish of the present moment and the protagonist's "writing to the moment" captures empirical experience in its fragmentary immediacy rather than in retrospective unity.
In suggesting the open-ended nature of Lazaros suffering, the final lines of prose in the Rowland edition could also be read as a kind of teaser, stoking the reader's desire for more fortunes and misfortunes, suggesting that the reader's desires might serve as impetus to further adventures. If the final lines were meant to serve as a kind of cliffhanger, sequels were not far behind the initial publication. The 1596 reprint of Rowland's translation was accompanied in the same year by a sequel, William Phiston's translation of the bizarre anonymous Segunda Parte, originally published in Spanish in Antwerp in 1555, which is the source of Dutch episode that concludes Rowland's translation. The anonymous Segunda Parte tells of the protagonist's transformation into a tuna fish and his encounters with a corrupt underwater kingdom (a thinly veiled attack on the Spanish court). (27) By depicting the Spanish regime as thoroughly corrupt, Phiston's translation was very likely intended to feed into post-Armada Hispanophobia. The unrealistic magical episode was dropped in Juan de Luna's improved (confusingly nearly identically titled) Segunda Parte de Lazarillo, a text that would gradually be incorporated into the English language editions of Lazarillo just as the Dutch episode had been canonized in earlier editions. After moving to England, de Luna published his own English translation of his sequel as Pursuit of the History of Lazarillo in 1622. While the first and second parts were published separately in 1624 and 1631, the first omnibus edition containing the original text and de Luna's sequel was printed in 1639. (28) Though de Luna's second part is generally considered inferior to the first, by the eighteenth century English editions would treat the two installments as a single text, creating yet another final situation for Lazarillo.
James Blakeston's 1653 edition of Lazarillo claims to restore the original text, after the "mangling and curtailing [of] his ingenious History, by those who had the Licensing of Books in Salamanca." (29) Lazarillo had indeed been censored in Spanish editions and it appeared only in its "mangled" form (the so-called Lazarillo Castigado) at the time. Blakeston claims to have access to an uncensored text "by an Originall which lately fell into my hands" (4). Yet despite the fact that Blakestons prefatory comments indicate a concern with preserving the original intent of the text, his edition is, for the most part, a repackaging of the Rowland translation. Blakeston preserves David Rowland's name as translator on the title page, includes the Dutch episode, and most importantly, Blakeston drops the prologue. None of which suggests that Blakeston had either the intent or ability to restore Lazarillo to its original form. His comments are most likely directed toward the preservation of the text's satire of the hypocrisy of Catholic religious figures.
Blakestons edition was popular and it was reissued in 1655, 1669, and, 1677 with Juan de Luna's sequel included in the same volume for each edition. Without the "Prologue," Lazarillo is no longer driven toward explaining a final situation in these versions. In fact, with the addition of de Luna's continuation, the Blakeston edition takes the protagonist through another series of masters, a wild ride of adventures that fail to conform to any simple upward or downward trajectory. Additionally, most late seventeenth-century editions end in the protagonist's death, as would eighteenth-century editions. (30) The protagonists troubles continue remorselessly until he throws himself on the mercy of a church where he collapses and dies, presumably in response to his endless distress. Pursued by an angry mob, the hero seeks sanctuary from life's endless ordeals. In the final paragraph, the narrator describes:
the Sexton gave me the Cloth of a Tomb, to wrap my self in. I went into a corner, where I considered the crosses of Fortune, and how on every side man is beset with misery, and therefore I determined to abide in that Church, and there end my days (which, in regard of my former woes, could not be very long) and save the Priests a labor of fetching me elsewhere, after my death. (182-83)
The final situation in Blakeston's edition is not complicity with a corrupt social order but death by attrition. The protagonist is stripped of his dignity and reduced to shivering flesh, charitably covered with a winding sheet. In this sense, Juan de Luna unifies the narrative not through retrospective self-fashioning but through gradual demolition of the protagonist's sense of dignity and selfhood. The hero can only bear so many misfortunes before he loses the will to live. The scene is undoubtedly infused with comic touches--especially Lazarillos gesture of "saving the priests a Labor of fetching me elsewhere." Yet de Luna's stark portrayal of Lazarillos loss of hope can potentially be read as a demonstration of the limits of unbridled episodic parataxis. Lazarillos ability to begin again is ultimately curtailed by his body's physical capacity to stand up to repeated abuse in the form of starvation and beatings.
As in earlier English editions, Lazarillos own account is framed by poetic commentary in Blakeston's 1653 edition. A poem signed "T.P." is appended, addressed to the "Publisher of the History," which gives us a clue as to the motivations behind the edition:
We thank you for this Honest Cheat That cozens nought but Time, And shews when LAZARO would eat Necessity's no crime. Who as his Wit did ebb or flow Did want or get a Meal; Tost by new Masters to and fro Like a new Common-weal. (183)
To the extent that the narrative reflects on Lazarillos episodic adventures, it follows the "ebb" and "flow" of his wit, which is indexed through his ability to feed himself. The poet's word choices indicate an erratic, rhythmic narrative structure rather than linear trajectory. The tone of the verses is undoubtedly humorous but T.P.'s reference to "a new Common-weal" would not have been lost on mid-seventeenth century readers. First published during the Interregnum, T.P.'s verses point to the fluctuations of Lazarillos well-being as something potentially analogous to the effects of political turmoil on collective well-being. T.P. is sensitive to the reading highlighted by the Dutch episode--political vicissitudes have economic consequences for all strata of society--in his description of Lazarillo being "Tost by new Masters."
In bridging the Spanish and English sociohistorical contexts, T.P. lauds the translation as erasing the distinction between foreign and domestic truth: "His Spanish is so Englishd now / We know not which is which" (184). Such a pronouncement in one way comes off as a dust jacket blurb, or advertisement that the new (actually not new) translation is an improvement over the original. But it also suggests that the kind of critique that Lazarillo mounts against the Spanish administration could also applicable to the contemporary English moment. T.P. warns that English political instability could have the same implications for the commonweal as Spanish imperialism. T.P.'s verses remained in place in the 1655 and 1669 reprints of Blakestons edition and in the 1677 edition they were moved up front to serve as a preface.
Lazarillo would have had particular relevance for readers in the wake of the English civil war, a period of intense crisis for the legitimacy of authority figures and social institutions. Nigel Smith has claimed that in this period "the boundaries and contents of genres seem to be the focus for the way in which seventeenth-century people came to know themselves, and a means by which they tried to transform their predicament, just as they sought for new, reformed or revived institutions to solve their problems." (31) Smith's sensitivity to generic transformation over the revolutionary period in other domains fails to take account of the growing popularity of picaresque narrative at this time. It would be difficult to map Lazarillo onto any particular historical circumstance of the civil war, but its fraught iteration of Lazarillos masters as tyrants must have struck a chord for readers. T.P.s defense of theft in service of necessity partakes in similar logic as the republican pamphlet Killing No Murder (1657), which subordinates the moral prohibition of murder to the political claims of the people. "Necessity's no crime" operates under a parallel logic of competing legal imperatives as Killing No Murder by making Lazarillo into a representative figure of the commonwealth. In this allegorical reading, Lazarillos hunger indexes the failure of the state to provide conditions under which the commonwealth is able to sustain itself.
Because it was published at a time of political instability, Blakeston may have opted for the inclusion of the Dutch episode despite its spuriousness (if we take him at his word that he had access to an original manuscript), as it heightens the sociohistorical context. Lazarillo's episodic form contributes to the text's potential for political allegory by suggesting that the interregnum break with patrilineal succession unmoors history at large from its legitimate foundation. Lazarillos various masters are illegitimate figures of authority not only in that they instantiate corrupt schemes of government, but also in their seriality. Lazarillos hope and disillusion with each succeeding master contributes to a sense that it is not necessarily the blind man or the squire who bear the blame for improvidence and mismanagement of resources but the ubiquitous possessiveness of the society at large. By putting Lazarillos masters in serial relation, the text resists the reader's urge to focus on any single corrupt figurehead as scapegoat. There is no single villain to consolidate the moral animus of the narrative into a single incarnation of evil. Instead, Lazarillo asks the reader to see episodic narrative as the particular condition that exposes the pervasiveness of such corrupt practices. That is to say, under the regime of each particular master, Lazarillo finds a way to sustain himself, however precariously. But the seriality of Lazarillos career takes its toll by repeatedly disrupting, and ultimately exhausting, his capacity to adapt to new forms of domination. At least, this is one theory why late seventeenth-century editions may have embraced episodic narrative as a form that more accurately reflects material reality than more teleological narrative might have done.
In the mid to late seventeenth century, the Blakeston edition circulated alongside the increasingly popular subgenre of rogue literature, which added another layer of associations to the text. In Spain, the publication of Guzman de Alfarache had immediately altered the way in which Lazarillo was read both domestically and abroad, eventually leading eighteenth-century book-sellers and nineteenth-century anthologists to package Lazarillo as a rogue narrative. (32) It is important to note the differences in emphasis, style, and narrative structure between Guzman and Lazarillo as the growing association between the two texts did much to obscure the significant contrasts between them. Aleman's novel is similar to Lazarillo in making its erstwhile protagonist, who starts out destitute and penniless, a product of the influence of a corrupt society. Guzman falls prey to con artists at roadside inns and goes hungry from time to time. But Aleman's novel features a dynamic sense of the formation of character as Guzman develops from victim to perpetuator of fraud and robbery over the course of the narrative, transforming from wayward youth into full-fledged rogue. James Mabbe's popular translation of Aleman's text, published first as The Rogue and later as The Spanish Rogue, was succeeded by a bevy of imitations. Richard Head's The English Rogue (1665) was eventually followed by forgettable knock-offs like Vie French Rogue (1704), Vie German Rogue (1720), Vie Highland Rogue (1723), and The Irish Rogue (1740). The publication history of such texts demonstrates the lasting popularity of the figure of the rogue as a mediator of international socioeconomic attitudes.
Eighteenth-century editions of Lazarillo bore the influence of rogue literature in terms of editorial practices, which tended to conflate narratives of crime and narratives of privation by making both properties of the rogue. While Lazarillo communicates ambivalence about the character of its protagonist, most of the rogue narratives that it inspired were less nuanced in their portrayal of poverty and more willing to perpetuate stereotypes about shiftless rogues and dishonest vagabonds. (33) The eighteenth-century version of Lazarillo, first printed for R. Bonwick in 1708, was republished twice with minor revisions in 1726 and 1745. Two late eighteenth-century editions, published in 1777 and 1789, seem to have been based on the Bonwick, despite rewordings and the inclusion of a series of illustrations. Several nineteenth-century editions, such as Thomas Roscoes 1832 translation in The Spanish Novelists, were clear derivatives of the Bonwick edition as well.
In terms of its appearance and prefatory material, the Bonwick edition was billed as rogue narrative similar to Guzman or The English Rogue. The text of the Bonwick edition is an anonymous retranslation the French edition of Jean-Antoine Charnes (1688), following revisions of George de Backer (1698). (34) The Bonwick edition greets the reader with a debonair portrait of the hero--one eye and one half of his mustache obscured by shadow under the curved brim of a plumed hat, with one crafty hand poised on his chest as if in self-introduction and a second hand curling restlessly at his waist. Lazarillo is caped and dressed respectably, hardly the starving beggar of the original text or the unfortunate vagabond of the sequel but the archetype of popular rogue biography and Restoration drama. (35) Despite the marked differences between them, booksellers lumped picaresque texts and neopicaresque rogue narratives together in collections such as The Spanish Libertines, (36) Readers expecting to encounter the light-hearted adventures of a dapper Spanish trickster, which Lazarillo's frontispiece portrait and title page suggest, would have been surprised to find the desperate struggles of a man beaten down by adversity. (37) Though these texts continued to be read as confirmation of anti-Spanish stereotypes, they make the protagonist's fluid identity into a reflection of his context rather than an expression of his individuality.
A minor textual variation introduced in the eighteenth-century Bonwick text demonstrates a shift in editorial concerns to accommodate aesthetic and cultural developments. In a passage in which Lazarillo deliberates on the causes which compel him to remain with the priest of Maqueda, the Bonwick text inserts an additional rationalization: "Besides these, I had another important Reason, not to leave so soon the Curate's Service: He had already taught me to read, and I was beginning to write; but had not then learnd enough to qualify my self for future Business." (38) To the already tangled cluster of forces influencing Lazarillos behavior, including his bodily emaciation and his fear of an even worse fate, the eighteenth-century edition adds a concern with writing itself. The anonymous sixteenth-century author had not explicitly accounted for Lazaros ability to read and write but eighteenth-century editions (following the French edition they used as text) used the episode as pretext to offer an explanation. (39) The added paragraph addresses potential disbelief on the part of readers who might wonder how a distressed servant might be able to write his own autobiography. The irony is that in order to address a perceived desire for logical consistency that became standard in mid-century prose narratives, the Bonwick text sacrifices the logic of the original passage (which emphasizes Lazarillos socially precarious position) to account for the protagonists literacy. Starving to death and wasting away, Lazarillo calmly decides to remain with his master in order to improve his future business prospects. The addition demonstrates that readers remained concerned with the question of the poor's capacity to narrate their own stories.
Eighteenth-century editions also diverged from seventeenth-century editions in the ways in which they divided the narrative into chapters. While the original text organizes its narrative into tratados that each revolve around one of the protagonist's masters, the eighteenth-century text breaks the events of each tratado up into smaller chapters organized around more sharply distinguished episodes. For instance, the second tratado is divided into four chapters:
Chap VI. Lazarillo goes to serve a Priest at Maqueda, and what happened there.
Chap VII. A Tinker comes in very seasonably to relieve Lazarillos Wants.
Chap. VIII. Lazarillo turns Mouse.
Chap. IX. Lazarillo turns Serpent, and is discover'd, and turn'd out of his Service. (40)
Each of the chapters contains a summary heading that offers a synopsis of the contents. In the examples above, the headings emphasize Lazarillos subordination to base urges and the fluidity of his identity by underscoring implicit associations presented in the original text. By breaking the narrative into smaller units, eighteenth-century editions sharpen their focus on the minute circumstances that constitute Lazarillos life. Breaking the narrative into shorter units also contributes to the episodic rhythm of the narrative by inviting the reader to consume the text more rapidly in small snack-like morsels. Such practices marked the Bonwick Lazarillo as popular reading material, to be consumed alongside texts such as The English Rogue, rather than as a moral or didactic text.
Despite its association with criminals and vagabonds, some moralists were able to recuperate picaresque narratives in the eighteenth century by emphasizing ends rather than causes of behavior. Teleological narrative structure was of utmost importance to how such readers interpreted texts. Illustrative of this point is the way in which Marquis d'Argens assesses the relative value of Don Quixote, Guzman, and Lazarillo, based on the way in which each text manages to align moral behavior and narrative outcomes. Surprisingly, he writes of Guzman's superiority to Cervantes's Don Quixote in moral terms:
His Romance may even be of more Use, since, by painting in the strongest Colours the Errors and Disorders of civil Life, he makes it plainly appear, that in the End they must turn out in a very villainous Shape. I'm unwilling so much as to mention the Life of Lazarillo de Tormes, the Adventures of Mark d'Obregon, and twenty others of the same Kind, because they only contain the Lives of Beggars and Wretches. (41)
Guzman is redeemed because of the narrative truth that it reveals through its final situation. "Disorders of civil life" lead necessarily to ruin, as the narrator traces connections between episodes and didactic interpretative asides. For d'Argens, narrative structure is the means by which errors and disorders "must turn out in a very villainous Shape." Crucially, d'Argens dismisses Lazarillo and "others of the same kind because they only contain the Lives of Beggars and Wretches." That is to say, the lives of professed rogues such as Guzman can be turned to moral ends but beggars cannot be moralized, implicitly because they lack the narrative "shape" that would create meaningful causality out of episodic misfortunes. Lazarillo and "others of the same kind" are merely narratives of beggars and wretches, without the possibility of gratifying poetic justice of Aleman's Guzman. Beggars have no teleology and so their narratives resist the conjunction of morality and aesthetic form.
Other readers from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries looked more carefully for narratological patterns as ways to organize the picaresque and explain its popularity. Among them, Thomas Dangerfield starts his Don Tomazo (1680) as a narrative of starvation (reminiscent of Lazarillo) that gradually transforms into a chronicle of dastardly deeds (closer to Guzman) as the protagonist develops from a hungry vagabond into an insatiable criminal mastermind. Don Tomazo's narrator draws a distinction, though, between its protagonist and Spanish precursors: "See here the difference between a Spanish and an English gusman: the one pursuing a poor, hungry plot upon his penurious master's bread and cheese, the other designing to grasp the riches of the fourth part of the world by the ruin of the national commerce." (42) Dangerfield's use of the word "plot" to distinguish the two kinds of narrative demonstrates a grasp of the difference in narrative structure that embodies the distinction between a nonprogressive episodic plot hinging on bodily necessity and a progressive plot that is tethered to the protagonist's ambition. If Dangerfield's pervasive irony threatens to undo the very dichotomy that he erects, later readers would make a similar distinction by stressing what makes Lazarillo unique.
In the early nineteenth century, William Hazlitt discusses Lazarillo in terms that demonstrate sensitivity to its predominant focus on bodily necessity. He writes that Lazarillo "treats of only one subject, that of eating, or rather the possibility of living without eating. Famine is here framed into an art, and feasting is banished far hence." Hazlitt quips that Lazarillo subjects its protagonist to "a perpetual adjournment of this necessary process"--that is staving off hunger. (43) Hazlitt's choice of the word "perpetual" adds him to the ranks of readers that saw Lazarillo as episodic rather than teleological. The text's repetitive focus on bodily distress curtails the possibility of forward movement and makes the text seem repetitious in its single-minded focus. Contemporary of Hazlitt, an 1820 printing of an extract from Lazarillo in The Retrospective Review emphasizes Lazarillo's differences from Guzman by saying: "In short, Lazarillo is not a professed or finished sharper, but is more of a victim of the knavery of others, than a knave himself." (44) Such comments seem to indicate that readers did not see Lazarillo as a text that emphasized the protagonist's triumph over the events that he narrates. Readers emphasized victimization and necessity rather than the agency and moral freedom. Lazarillo is at the mercy of the events that accrue over the course of his life, rather than a master of their narrative structure.
Perhaps the most extreme example of the tendency to see Lazarillo as hapless victim of perpetual cruelty is Jean-Jacques Rousseaus use of the narrative in Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques, Dialogues. Rousseau's Dialogues take Lazarillo to be emblematic of a kind of breakdown of the expressive power of the subject, a theme foreshadowed in the final lines of the 1586 Rowland edition. Notably, Rousseau chooses an example from Juan de Lunas sequel to make his point, making no distinction between original text and continuation. Rousseau sees his own plight allegorized in the episode in which the protagonist is abducted by sadistic sailors who disguise him as a "sea monster" and exploit his manufactured monstrosity in a travelling sideshow. Rousseau worries that his body of writing has been misinterpreted and made into a kind of monster. The Dialogues testify to Rousseau's late-career paranoia as it hashes out a conflict between public reputation and authorial intent. Rousseau emphasizes the failure of the subject to speak for himself in the face of persistent misunderstandings. He recounts:
When poor Lazarillo de Tormes, tied to the bottom of a tub with only his head above water, crowned with Reeds and Algae, was carted from town to town as a sea monster, were the spectators raving mad to take him for that, in their ignorance that he was prevented from speaking and that if he wanted to cry out that he was not a sea monster, he was instantly forced underwater by a hidden cord? (45)
Rousseau's summary takes the form of a breathless rhetorical question, chastising the reader who would take the side of the spectators who laugh at Lazarillo as result of his inability to speak on his own behalf.
But, Rousseau suggests, Lazarillo is capable of revealing the coercive figures pulling the ropes as well as monstrous appearances. That is to say, Rousseau dramatizes the difference between those who fall for circus tricks and those who understand their mechanisms by making a distinction between the reading public at large and savvy readers: "The public, which sees only the appearance of things, can be excused for being deceived by it. But those who claim to be wiser than the public are not excused by adopting its error." (46) Rousseau makes an interesting claim about the interpretative protocols appropriate to picaresque narrative. We risk misunderstanding picaresque narrators, he suggests, when we assume them to be in control of their own stories. Rousseau indicates that we do justice to understanding Lazarillo when we attend as much to its inability to speak as to what it actually says.
Rousseau's words call attention to the ambivalent function of narrative causality in cultural constructions of poverty. Those that consider the disadvantaged as victims of unmediated social determination risk paternalism by failing to recognize the agency of the poor themselves. Those who regard the poor as agents of their own fates risk treating disadvantage as the result of individual choices or character. The difference between these two explanatory models turns on the implicit causality that adheres to narrative structure. In the historical reception of the picaresque, episodic narrative structure has often served to forestall resolution into either of these extreme positions by leaving narrative open ended, though I have argued that it leans toward social determination in the publication history of Lazarillo.
Though Lazarillo's pre-twentieth-century readers offered a variety of accounts of the text's thematic and formal organization, one recurrent topos is the protagonist's lack of autonomy as a definitive feature of the narrative. Lazarillo's episodic narrative structure was constitutive of its significance in this regard because it exemplified the difference between suffering individual misfortunes and suffering seemingly unending tribulations stemming from widespread, systematic abuses of power. Such abuses of power were viewed historically in close association with political, economic, and international contexts. Episodic narrative lends itself to representing and recognizing structural causes of poverty as forces that extend beyond individual agency by making identity itself the product of reciprocal interaction between the protagonist and the environment. By representing unresolved socioeconomic conflicts as components of structures that overpower individual agency, Lazarillo resists making its narrative outcome into a judgment on the merit of its protagonist.
I thank the Andrews Mellon Foundation for support that contributed to the research for this article.
(1) The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes, His Fortunes and Adversities, ed. Sir Clements Markham (London: 1908).
(2) Julio-Cesar Santoyo, Ediciones y Traducciones Inglesas del "Lazarillo de Tormes" 1568-1977 (Universitario de Alvara: Vitoria, 1978); Gareth Alban Davis, "David Rowland's Lazarillo de Tormes (1576): The History of a Translation," National Library of Wales Journal 28.4 (1994): 349-87; Alan K.G. Paterson, "The Englishing oi Lazarillo de Tormes" in "Never-ending Adventure": Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Literature in Honor of Peter N. Dunn, ed. Edward H. Friedman and Harlan Sturm (Newark, Delaware: Juan de la Cuesta, 2002), 129-54. For a recent summary of the work on Lazarillo's early English reception, see Alexander Samson, "Lazarillo de Tormes and the Picaresque in Early Modern England" in The Oxford Handbook of English Prose 1500-1640 (Oxford U. Press, 2013), 121-36.
(3) Claudio Guillen, "Toward a Definition of the Picaresque," in Literature as System: Essays Toward the Theory of Literary History (Princeton U. Press, 1971), 77. For a valuable review of scholarship on the debate over Lazarillo's relationship to its social context, see Antonio Perez-Romero, The Subversive Tradition in Spanish Renaissance Writing (Bucknell U. Press, 2005), 199-229.
(4) See Jose Antonio Maravall, La literatura picaresca desde la historia social (Siglos XVI y XVII) (Madrid: Taurus, 1986); Javier Herrero, "Renaissance Poverty and Lazarillos Family: The Birth of the Picaresque Genre" PMLA 94 (1979): 876-86; Juan Carlos Rodriguez, La literatura del pobre (Granada, 1994), 67-109; Anne J. Cruz, Discourses of Poverty: Social Reform and the Picaresque Novel in Early Modern Spain (U. of Toronto Press, 1999), 21-38.
(5) The classic text is Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding (U. of California Press, 1957). More recently, critics have sought to situate individualism within broader social contexts. See for example Deidre Shauna Lynch, The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning (U. of Chicago Press, 1998); Nancy Armstrong, How Novels Think: The Limits of British Individualism 1719-1900 (Columbia U. Press, 2005). For a more theoretical account of the novel premised on formal unity, see Georg Lukacs, Theory of the Novel, trans. Anna Bostock (MIT Press, 1971). For a more philosophical account of the novel as a genre that highlights autonomy, see Robert Pippin, Modernism as Philosophical Problem 2nd ed. (Maldern: Blackwell, 1999), 34-35.
(6) See Bruce Robbins, The Servant's Hand: English Fiction from Below (Duke U. Press, 1986); Judith Frank, Common Ground: Eighteenth-Century English Satiric Fiction and the Poor (Stanford U. Press, 1997); Scott Mackenzie, Be It Ever So Humble: Poverty, Fiction, and the Invention of the Middle-Class Home (U. of Virginia Press, 2013). In an American context, see Gavin Jones, American Hungers: The Problem of Poverty in U.S. Literature, 1840-1945 (Princeton U. Press), 2008.
(7) See Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, trans. Caryl Emerson (U. of Minnesota Press, 1984), 157-58, and "Forms of Time and Chronotope in the Novel," in The Dialogic Imagination (U. of Texas Press, 1981), 165-67; Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel: 1600-1740 (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1987), 96-100, 238-39, 292-94. For a claim that Lazarillo is the first modern novel, see J. A. G. Ardila, El genero picaresco en la critica literaria (Madrid: Bibloteca Nueva, 2008), 228.
(8) For the picaresque's influence on Cervantes, see Claudio Guillen, "Genre and Countergenre: The Discovery of the Picaresque," in Literature as System: Essays Toward the Theory of Literary History (Princeton U. Press, 1971), 135-58; Anne J. Cruz, "The picaro meets Don Quixote: The Spanish picaresque and the origins of the modern novel," in Remapping the Rise of the European Novel, ed. Jenny Mander (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2007) 127-38.
(9) See Reyes Coll-Tellechea and Sean McDaniel, "Our Knowledge of the Past: Reframing Lazarillo Studies," The Lazarillo Phenomenon: Essays on the Adventures of a Classic Text (Bucknell U. Press, 2010), 9-20. See also Klaus Meyer-Minnemann and Sabine Schlinkers, "?Es el Lazarillo una novela picaresca? Genericidad y evolucion del genero en las versiones, continuaciones y transformaciones de La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes desde las ediciones de 1554 hasta la refundicion de 1620 por Juan de Luna," in Klaus Meyer-Minnemann and Sabine Schlinkers, eds. La novela picaresca concepto generico y evolucion del genero (siglos XVI Y XVII) (Madrid: Universidad de Navarra, 2008), 41-70.
(10) For one attempt, see Walter Reed, An Exemplary History of the Novel: The Quixotic Versus the Picaresque (U. of Chicago Press, 1981), esp. 56-58.
(11) Francisco Rico, The Spanish Picaresque Novel and the Point of View, trans. Charles Davis (Cambridge U. Press, 1984), 22. All references cited internally hereafter.
(12) Rico writes, "Lazaros fortunes and misfortunes seem to teach us that 'there are no values: there are only lives--individuals.' But surely this attention to individuality constitutes the hallmark of the modern novel as created by a Cervantes or a Fielding. Implicit in this recognition of subjectivity as a measure of all things stirs a truly novelistic impulse which the anonymous author of the Lazarillo must have found very attractive" (The Spanish Picaresque, 29).
(13) See for instance Robert Alter, Rogues Progress: Studies in the Picaresque Novel (Harvard U. Press, 1965); Lars Hartveit, Workings of the Picaresque in the British Novel (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1987), 9-23; Ligia Tomoiaga, Elements of the Picaresque in Contemporary British Fiction (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2012).
(14) Anonymous, La Vida de Lazarillo de Tormesy de sus fortunas y adversidades, ed. Alberto Blecua (Madrid: Castalia, 1974), 117. All Spanish quotations from Lazarillo are from this edition, hereafter cited internally, 89.
(15) Anonymous, The Pleasaunt History of Lazarillo de Tormes, trans. David Rowland, ed.,). E. V. Crofts (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1924), 6. Hereafter cited internally.
(16) Peter Dunn, Spanish Picaresque Fiction: A New Literary History (Cornell U. Press, 1993), 49.
(17) J. A. G. Ardila, "Introduction: Transnational Picaresque," in Philological Quarterly 89 (2010): 4.
(18) The anonymous Lazarillo was published in several slightly different first editions in Burgos, Alcala, and Antwerp in 1554. Alberto Blecua, among others, persuasively argues that a now-lost original was the edition on which the extant copies were based. See Alberto Blecua, "Introduccion," Lazarillo de Tormes (Madrid: Castalia, 1974), 56-57; Joseph Ricapito, "Introduccion," Lazarillo de Tormes, 2nd ed. (Madrid: Catedra, 1976), 11-15. For side-by-side comparison of the three editions, see Tri-Linear Lazarillo Edition of the Lazarillo de Tormes of 1554, ed. J. V. Ricapito (Burgos: Alcala de Henares: 1987). For a summary of work on a recently discovered fourth text, the so-called Barcarrota edition, see Benjamin Torrico, "Hiding in the Wall: Lazarillo's Bedfellows: The Secret Library of Barcarrota," in Coll-Tellechea and McDaniel, eds., The Lazarillo Phenomenon.
(19) J. H. Elliott, Imperial Spain: 1468-1716 (New York: St Martins Press, 1963), 143.
(20) See Jose Miguel Caso Gonzalez, Lazarillo de Tormes (Barcelona: Ediciones B., 1989), 81-83.
(21) See Keith Whitlock, ed., The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes, trans. David Rowland (Warminster: Aris 8t Phillips, 2000), 167.
(22) Santoyo, Editions, 34. See also, J. E. V. Crofts, "Introduction," The Pleasaunt Historie, x.
(23) For recent work on the picaresque as mediator of Spanish-English relations in this period, see also Paul Salzman, "Travelling or Staying In: Spain and the Picaresque in the Early 1620s," The Yearbook of English Studies 41.1 (2011): 141-55; John R. Yamamoto-Wilson, "Mabbe's Maybes: A Stuart Hispanist in Context," Translation and Literature 21 (2012): 319-42.
(24) James Parr, "La Estructura Satirica del Lazarillo," in La Picaresca: Origenes, Textos y Estructura: Actas del I Congreso Internacional Sobre la Picaresca, ed. Manuel Criado de Val (Fundacion Universitaria Espanola, 1979), 380. My translation from the Spanish.
(25) Parr, "La Estructura," 380.
(26) See also Alberto del Monte, Itinerario de la Novela Picaresca Espanola (Madrid: Lumen, 1971), 40.
(27) See Reyes Coll-Tellechea, "The Spanish Inquisition and the Battle for Lazarillo: 15541573," in Coll-Tellechea and McDaniel, eds., The Lazarillo Phenomenon, 75-97.
(28) On de Luna's sequel, see Joseph Laurenti, "Prologo," Juan de Luna: Segunda Parte de la Lazarillo de Tormes (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, S.A., 1979), vii-x.
(29) Lazarillo, or, The excellent history of Lazarillo de Tormes, the witty Spaniard, both parts (London: 1653), 6; EEBO Wing 1507:10. Hereafter cited internally.
(30) One exception is the 1688 edition, which appends a short narrative of the "Son of Lazarillo."
(31) Nigel Smith, Literature and Revolution in England 1640-1660 (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1994), 19.
(32) For a claim that Guzman rather than Lazarillo is the archetypal picaresque text, see Alexander Parker, Literature and the Delinquent: The Picaresque Novel in Spain and Europe 1599-1753 (Edinburgh U. Press, 1971), 22-27.
(33) For a survey of work on the figure of the rogue in this period, see Rogues and Early Modern Culture, ed. Craig Dionne and Steve Mentz (U. of Michigan Press, 2004).
(34) See Santoyo, Ediciones, 138.
(35) While Restoration dramatists most often drew on Spanish sources in service of the conventional "cape and sword" plot, many of these plays are peppered with references to picaresque texts. Lord Orrey (Roger Boyle) wrote an adaptation of Guzman in 1669; Thomas Duffet produced The Spanish Rogue in 1673; Aphra Behn named a character Guzman; William Congreve owned copies of Lazarillo and Guzman, as well as two copies of Don Quixote in the original Spanish. See John Loftis, The Spanish Plays of Neoclassical England (Yale U. Press, 1973), 59, 162.
(36) The Spanish Libertines: or the Lives of Justina, The Country Jilt; Celestina, The Bawd of Madrid; and Estevanillo Gonzales, The Most Arch and Comical of Scoundrels (London, 1707).
(37) Lazarillo may have been printed in the spirit of what Simon Dickie has demonstrated to be a course and bawdy strain of mid-century narratives called ramble novels. See Cruelty and Laughter: Forgotten Comic Literature and the Unsentimental Eighteenth Century (U. of Chicago Press, 2011).
(38) Anonymous, The life and adventures of that most witty and ingenious Spaniard, Lazarillo de Tormes: Containing a great variety of humorous exploits (Edinburgh, 1745), 37.
(39) The passage on Lazarillos literacy seems to have appeared first in George de Backer's seventeenth-century text, which remained the standard French edition for some time.
(40) Anonymous, The life and adventures, iii.
(41) Marquis d'Argens, Jewish letters: or, a correspondence philosophical, historical and critical, betwixt a Jew and his correspondents, in different parts, vol. 2 (Newcastle: 1740), 120, ECCO T188569.
(42) Thomas Dangerfield, Don Tomazo in An Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Fiction, ed. Paul Salzman (Oxford U. Press, 1991), 390.
(43) William Hazilitt, Lectures on the English Comic Writers (New York: Dutton, 1963), 111.
(44) Anonymous, Review of The Life and Adventures of Lazarillo Gousales, Retrospective Review vol. 2 (London, 1820), 135.
(45) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques, Dialogues, trans. Judith Bush (Dartmouth U. Press, 1990), 84.
(46) Rousseau, Dialogues, 84.
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