The Lazarillo Phenomenon: Essays on the Adventures of a Classic Text

The Lazarillo Phenomenon: Essays on the Adventures of a Classic Text

The Lazarillo Phenomenon: Essays on the Adventures of a Classic Text

The Lazarillo Phenomenon: Essays on the Adventures of a Classic Text


'The Lazarillo Phenomenon' addresses a fundamental question in Hispanic studies, why do we continue studying 'La Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes'? As a classic literary text, Lazarillo's destiny depends on the relations it establishes over time with individuals and institutions responsible for literary, commercial and ideological matters.


Reyes Coll-Tellechea and Sean McDaniel

In the past one hundred years there have been hundreds of SCHOLarly works published on Lazarillo de Tormes. Such a frenzy of academic productivity usually accompanies significant advancement in knowledge of the object in question. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for Lazarillo studies. While many articles, books, and editions have been of interest, few have produced new knowledge or field-altering advances. in fact, it could be said that the field known as Lazarillo studies has become stagnant.

This situation should be viewed as a problem that requires solutions. the stagnation of Lazarillo studies is a problem because the anonymous novel is undeniably special and has the capacity to continue to reveal relevant information about the past and about those who originally held it in their hands that would otherwise be inaccessible. Lazarillo has the potential to be a key to unlock doors to the sixteenth century that are currently closed to us. This novel has much left to offer, and those who study it have much work left to do.

Some of the obstacles to the development of Lazarillo studies have their roots in the fact that the knowledge we inherited from the literary historiography of the past was framed by a series of aesthetic concerns and historical understandings that are no longer relevant to us. We need a new frame for Lazarillo studies. As LeGoff explains, “Cada época fabrica mentalmente su representación del pasado histórico” [Each era mentally constructs its own representation of the historical past].” This fact is obvious in the case of Spanish historiography, which has undergone a profound transformation in recent decades, adapting itself to the needs and interests of the first generations of democratic Spaniards. the new Spanish historiography represents, then, in LeGoff’s terms a new reading of the Spanish past which—looked at from our own present—responds to our own interests for understanding. That each generation has its own interests for understanding the past, ac-

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