Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Discourses of Poverty

Discourses of Poverty: Social Reform and the Picaresque Novel in Early Modern Spain

  • Book Info
    Discourses of Poverty
    Book Description:

    Cruz examines the treatment of poverty, prostitution, war, and other social concerns in the cultural and literary discourses of early modern Spain.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7395-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    The complex dislocations, both symbolic and social, that propelled Spain into the early modern period generated divergent discourses in response to the increasing numbers of marginalized poor that emerged in the early sixteenth century. In this study, which focuses on the articulations of poverty and its relief through charity and social reform in both the picaresque and non-fictional texts, I employ the term ʹdiscourseʹ in its broadest sense, encompassing its Renaissance and modern definitions as the ideological expressions that circulate within a cultural field. We have learned from such philosophers of culture as Mikhail Bakhtin, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault...

  5. 1 Charity, Poverty, and Liminality in the Lazarillo
    (pp. 3-38)

    TheLazarillo de Tormesbegins its thirdtratadoby describing young Lázaroʹs hasty exit from the house of his second master, the uncharitable priest of Maqueda, and his inglorious entrance into the noble city of Toledo. Starved by the skinflint priestʹs total disregard for his physical nourishment and deprived by him of any spiritual support, Lazarillo is expelled from the ʹbreadly paradiseʹ when the priest discovers him stealing bread rolls to quell his gnawing hunger. As in his previous escapades with the blind man, he is again assisted by the good townspeople, who feel sorry for the poor boy who...

  6. 2 The Poor in Spain: Confinement and Control
    (pp. 39-74)

    InMadness and Civilization, Michel Foucault has written of ʹinalienable poverty,ʹ of a ʹChristian tradition for which the Poor Man had had a real and concrete existenceʹ (230). He explains, however, that in a mercantilist society, the pauper, since he is neither producer nor consumer, has no place: idle, vagabond, and unemployed, he belongs nowhere and is therefore destined to confinement. Limiting himself to the containment of the poor, the criminal, and the insane in Classical France, Foucault focuses most extensively on madness, whose displacement from its previous tragic significance in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, he asserts, authorizes...

  7. 3 The Picaresque as Pharmakos
    (pp. 75-115)

    As Ginés de Pasamonteʹs sly critique of autobiography inDon Quixoteunwittingly conceded, the popularity of theGuzmán de Alfarachegave new life to the genre initiated by theLazarillo. Very few editions of the latter, and only two sequels, were published after 1554 before a picaresque narrative again took on the fictional life writings of an orphaned boy exposed to mistreatment, poverty, and hunger.¹ Despite the genreʹs oft-noted lack of realism, theGuzmánʹs engagement with these issues, in accordance with its specific historical circumstances, substantiates the authorʹs, Mateo Alemánʹs, concern to comment on contemporary social problems. For the first...

  8. 4 Textualizing the Otherʹs Body
    (pp. 116-159)

    The mass of unemployed beggars, vagabonds, andpícaros, scarcely undistinguishable to authorities who viewed them all as delinquents, was increasingly forced into subjection during the reign of Philip III. The neglect by the Crown of thearbitristasʹ many warnings led state policy to coalesce with the prevailing conservative opinion against social reform to the point where, as we have seen, most reformers were removed from public office and became alienated from court.¹ Lerma himself was little interested in public governance: during his tenure asvalido, he attended only 22 of 739 meetings held by the council, preferring to influence the...

  9. 5 From Pícaro to Soldier
    (pp. 160-206)

    As but one instance of the ʹrefeudalizationʹ that obtains at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Sor Magdalenaʹs stern measures for the womenʹsgaleracontributed to the re-establishment of a conservative social order based primarily on hierarchy and privilege. The discipline imposed on prostitutes adhered to an archaic pattern of control endorsing renunciation of the body over its utility (Foucault,Discipline, 137). The return, in disciplining the social body, to violent and ritualistic systems of power that countermanded proposals such as Pérez de HerreraʹsAmparo de pobres, which admitted some measure of class mobility, would also signal the failure of...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 207-256)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 257-280)
  12. Index
    (pp. 281-297)