Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Francisco J. Sanchez


The Quixotic Picaresque is a conflation of the narrative modes exhibited in Lazarillo de Tormes and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quijote de la Mancha. This study examines these early modern Spanish novels and their American reincarnations, namely Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and William Faulkner’s The Reivers. Accordingly, this essay explores the correlation between Spain’s transition from feudalism to a modern mercantile society and the United States’ transition from an agrarian society based in slavery to a modern industrial nation within the cultural contexts of the four aforementioned novels. These novels make up part of the intertextual rhizome in World Literature that I will refer to as the Quixotic Picaresque, in which a series of trickster figures undertake perfomative acts of deception, particularly the masking tradition of Carnival, in order to endure the hardships of modernity. However, whereas most tricksters tend to be solely focused on pragmatic individual objectives, quixotic pícaros maintain a sense of idealism that leads them to consider the Other and thus act in the name of communal prosperity. These selfless tricksters metatheatrically parody the generic social conventions in which they reside in order to subvert the hegemony that seeks to oppress and marginalize them and fellow members of their communities. In performing a multiplicity of identities and social roles, these quixotic pícaros contribute to the opacity of modern multicultural nation states, and thus, disrupt all social hierarchies leading to the regeneration of the public body—a more utopian world.


© 2017, David Elijah Sinsabaugh Beek