The Picaresque novel is a famous technique in earlier periods. These techniques were used to record the Kings’ and other person’s victories in and out of the battlefields even during his adventures. This form of literature helped in recording the real historical heroes and events from various perspectives. Many authors adapted these techniques and succeeded in making new epic fictions, mythologies, and other real events and incidents.

The Picaresque Novel originated in Spain. The term ‘Picaresque’ is derived from the Spanish ‘picaro’ meaning an anti-hero or rogue. A Picaresque novel is generally an autobiography account of the hero’s fortunes, sufferings and wanderings. It is a combination of episodic tales arranged as journeys. They episodes generally depict low life in a rambling manner and come to an abrupt ending.

The first prose fiction in the nature of the picaresque was John Lyly’s ‘Euphues’ published in 1578 detailing the loves and adventures of a young Athenian called Euphues. Six years later, Thomas Nash published his ‘Unfortunate Traveller’, a more perfect picaresque romance dealing with the travels and adventure of a page called Jacky Wilton. Defoe’s ‘Moll Flanders’ published in 1722 had an affinity with the picaresque mode of writing. But Smollett’s  ‘The Adventure of Ferdinand Count Fathom’ is a more perfect form of the picaresque. However, it was Fielding’s ‘Tom Jones’ which established the respectability of the picaresque novel. Fielding’s novel describes through 18 book’s the adventures and several love affairs of The Young anti-hero Tom Jones. Elements of the picaresque can be found in Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby and in Joyce Cary’s “The horse’s mouth.”

The object of the picaresque novel is to take a central figure through a succession of scenes and adventures, introduce a great number of characters around him and thus build-up picture of society. In the eighteenth century and before travel was the only way to get acquainted with social life. That is why heroes in the Picaresque novels are travelling heroes. The hero in a picaresque novel is always in the Whirlpool of adventures and he has to be present in several human situations. The picaresque hero often transcends the level of the rogue into a tragic figure with human attributes as in the case of Fielding’s Tom Jones.

Another feature of the picaresque novel is the dynamic movement of the hero. He should run through a succession of scenes as Tom does during his journey to London. The novelist constructs the picture of society through the narration of the hero’s wanderings. Smollett sends his hero Roderick Random not only to London but also to France and for a ship journey. The picaresque novel may go deeper into a contemplation of the more intricate relationship between good and evil. They also reveal the strange truth that generous impulses exist even in those whom society considers as rougues. Tom Jones is a generous and manly youth in spite of the rouguish elements in his character.

Until now this technique is used by various authors for various books in the name of Mythologies, fiction, and other Genres.

Short stories within novels

All about autobiography

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