The Life Of Lazarillo de Tormes, His Fortunes and Misfortunes is a classic of Spanish literature, written anonymously and one of only six novels on the Index of Prohibited Books during the Inquisition. Lazaro is a clueless but sly servant boy who learns to survive a series of abusive masters through trickery and petty crime. The original book was controversial mainly for its satire of Catholicism and the clergy, and the version available to modern readers is an edition censored for re-publication. A sequel that was critical of the political power structure remained banned.
Written in the 16th century, Lazarillo is an early example of the picaresque novel, episodic fiction in which a roguish protagonist evades conventional authority and navigates a series of predicaments. Novelist Jane Smiley calls Lazaro the first protagonist in fiction to represent the ordinary person whose primary concern is eking out a living. Set mostly in Toledo, Spain, the novella is also notable for its depiction of poverty amid the anti-poor laws enacted during the period, and the changing attitudes toward charity in an increasingly capitalist society.
Excerpted from the translation of Robert S. Rudder, the Books Unbook presentation of The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes is newly expanded two-part program from a version first broadcast in the fall of 2014 as part of a series on classic satiric fiction. Tony Brewer is the reader, Sarah Torbeck the host, and Berklea Going the announcer.
The episode was written and produced by Cynthia Wolfe, with production assistance from Robert Shull and Doug Storm.
Lazarillo features period music by the 16th-century Spanish composer Diego Ortiz, who was born in Toledo, performed by Jordi Savali on his albums La Folia and Recercadas del Trattado de Glosas. Books Unbound theme music by The Impossible Shapes.
Broadcast on MCCSC Commencement day, the episode concludes with the poem “The Writer” by Richard Wilbur, read by Cynthia Wolfe and dedicated to the Class of 2015.
Series producer: Cynthia Wolfe
Executive producer: Joe Crawford