Play and the Picaresque

Play and the Picaresque: Lazarillo de Tormes, Libro de Manuel and Match Ball

Gordana Yovanovich
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442678521
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  • Book Info
    Play and the Picaresque
    Book Description:

    Analyses three important Latin American novels in an attempt to redefine the nature of the picaresque, especially in regard to the roles of spontaneous play and carnivalesque laughter.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7852-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    The most effective way to appreciate the social and human orientation of contemporary Latin American fiction is the apparently outmoded approach through genre. This route, however, puts us at odds with such writers as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Octavio Paz, to name only a few, who have seriously challenged the notion of genre in the course of stretching even the rigorous and familiar essay form so that it has become simply, as Jaime Alazraki says, ‘a voice one hears’ (‘una voz que se oye’).¹ The flouting of generic boundaries not only in Latin American fiction but also in...

  5. 1. Play and Games: Recreative Disorder and Intellectual Order
    (pp. 15-32)

    Like the wooden-board scene in Cortázar’sRayuela, picaresque play is motivated by instinct and other energies of life, but in its operation it is sustained by shrewd (rational) strategies. Bizarre as the scene may be, there is no naiveté in Oliveira’s and Traveler’s provocation and subsequent discovery of Talita’s emotions and their place in life. There is no levity in their picaresque type of play despite the fact that it is played by reckless marginalized characters. In the wooden-board scene and in the picaresque mode of seeing the world, play is not only a means of discovery and entertainment, but...

  6. 2. Picaresque Realism and Magical Realism
    (pp. 33-49)

    As Francisco Rico has argued, the picaresque is defined by the picaresque point of view, where a ‘point of view’ in not atechnique, a category of an atemporal ‘rhetoric of fiction,’ but a way of perceiving and manipulating reality. By examining the picaresque point of view or this attitude towards reality, we find the link among the picaresque, comedy, carnivalesque laughter and play, and Latin American Magical Realism. Rico explains that in picaresque fiction ‘the alluded reality and the way it is presented are meaningless unless they refer to Guzmán [or Lazarillo].’ The essence of a picaresque book, Rico...

  7. 3. Play in Lazarillo de Tormes
    (pp. 50-67)

    Chandler’s views are as significant for the development ofLazarillocriticism as the blind man’s teaching was for the development of the young Lazarillo. Critics who disagreed with Chandler’s assessment thatLazarillois ‘a simple entertaining book’ were exercised not only to prove that the novel is not simple but also to camouflage its entertaining and playful qualities because, as we have seen, Western culture views the adjectives ‘simple’ and ‘entertaining’ as nearly synonymous. To placeLazarilloin a category of meritorious literature, modern critics such as J.H. Silverman acknowledge the presence of play and laughter in the novel, but...

  8. 4. Manual for Manuel: How to Become a Pícaro
    (pp. 68-96)

    The picaresque playfulness in Julio Cortázar’s last novel is closely related to the intellectualludicitéinitiated in the early decades of this century. In light of modernist philosophical and aesthetic concerns the novel exploits modernist collage techniques, but it takes modernism one step further as it turns modernist intellectual concerns into advanced political and humanist activism. The contemporary text, likeLazarillo de Tormes, is self-aware, but it is not independent of its larger socio-political context nor of its historical circumstances. The novel transcends the parameters of self-contained textual autonomy by means of emphasis on the common and the familiar. Cortázar’s...

  9. 5. Picaresque Love Games in Match Ball
    (pp. 97-120)

    Although Cortázar’s playful picaresque world-view advances the central picaresque theme that daily strife is essential to human fulfilment and liberation, and that solidarity is won through enlightened participation in social life,Libra de Manuel(1973) is still the work of a picaresque theoretician rather than of a picaresque artist. Skármeta’sMatch Ball(1989) echoes Cortázar’s theoretical and philosophical concerns, but his characters are intelligent and instinctivedoersin contrast to Cortázar’s instinctivethinkers. The driving force of the story in the Chilean novel comes from picaresque love, in this case a set of shifting relationships that develop in the context...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 121-128)

    Most modernist characters experience the sense of isolation expressed by Lazarillo when he confesses: ‘I must keep awake because I’m on my own and I’ve got to look after myself.’ In order to ‘look after themselves’ they need that picaresque competitive edge that is evident in Cortázar’s and especially in Skármeta’s novels. The picaresque mode finds itself comfortably at home in Latin American fiction in the second half of the twentieth century. This is not only because Latin American culture is imbued with the spirit of competition and survival. The fiction of European modernism and Latin American Boom literature developed...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 129-140)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 141-148)
  13. Index
    (pp. 149-152)