UBC Graduate Research

Transatlantic Pícaros : the Only-ness of Atwood’s Lady Oracle and Quevedo's El Buscón Rodriguez, Juan Carlos


There is a significant lack of scholarship around the topic of the pícaro and the picaresque in Canada. Blaber and Gilman (1990) set the tone with a groundbreaking work on the picaresque tradition in Canada, Australia and India. But other than a few articles scattered around in the last two decades, nothing major has been published with the pícaro as the central theme. It seems as if the pícaro as a literary figure/protagonist is deliberately avoided, neglected, overlooked and ignored, focusing the critics instead on the genre ‘bildungsroman’ in all its variations, where a ‘development’ is clear and even predictable (artistic, educational, etc.). The picaresque, at least the way I understand it, contains elements of the bildungsroman (adolescence, journeys), but it goes well beyond its domain. This article explores the relationship between two canonical picaresque novels; one published in the Spanish 17th century, El Buscón, by Francisco de Quevedo (1626) and the other one published in contemporary Canada, Lady Oracle, by Margaret Atwood (1976). By doing so, this study also pretends to fill a scholarship gap around the pícaro figure and to spark a more intense, continuous debate on the nature and relevance of the pícaro in Canadian literary mainstream.

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