The persistence of the picaresque in contemporary literature

Cevasco, Clizia (2013) The persistence of the picaresque in contemporary literature, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Le letterature dell'Europa unita - Les littératures de l'Europe unie, 24 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6097.
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Critical problems about the persistence of the picaresque in contemporary period reveal, from the sixties, a controversy which wasn’t able to give an homogeneous vision of the phenomenon. Variations between a close historical conception and an open a-historical conception don’t allow to distinguish essential details of a very rich presence which seems far from disappearance. In order to prove it, two sets of works of XXth and XXIth centuries have been considered, presenting a very definite character: on the one side, a restricted corpus, composed of rewritings or adaptations of Spanish canonical texts; on the other side, a second larger corpus, which doesn’t represent necessarily a reworking of the canon of picaresque genre. In order to analyze the corpus, we evidently tried to identify the surviving specific characteristics, even when they appeared as being modified, in XXth and XXIth centuries: particularly, we considered the narrator, the motif of vile birth, the marginalization of the hero and his dynamic status and also the conclusion of the stories. What come out from this analysis is that the reactivation of the picaresque genre cannot be limited to a contemporary rewriting, but it also constitute a literary genre, whose survival cannot be questioned and whose diffusion is quite ample. The analysis of this persistence in contemporary literature permits us to understand that this genre is not exclusively bound to one particular social organization or historical period, but that on the contrary it come out from a deep structure which was able, in history, to take form in writing and literary tradition.


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