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June 6, 2020

Word of the Day: Picaresque

1 CQ

Word of the Day : August 25, 2017

picaresque \pik-uh-RESK\ adjective


: of or relating to rogues or rascals; also : of, relating to, suggesting, or being a type of fiction dealing with the episodic adventures of a usually roguish protagonist


"His specialty was the picaresque novel, which took the hero (with the reader happily perched on his shoulder) on a wild ride…." — Martin Rubin, The Washington Times, 16 Mar. 2012

"Rafting down the Mississippi, Twain captured pre-Civil War America with a picaresque tale of marks and swindlers, innocents and thugs." — Ron Charles, The Washington Post, 11 Jan. 2017

Did You Know?

Picaresque derives from Spanish picaresco, which means "of or relating to a picaro," the picaro being the rogue or bohemian usually at the center of picaresque fiction. The typical picaro is a wandering individual of low social standing who happens into a series of adventures among people of various higher classes, and often relies on wits and a little dishonesty to get by. The first known novel in this style is Lazarillo de Tormes (circa 1554), an irreverent work about a poor boy who works for a series of masters of dubious character. The novel has been attributed to Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, but his authorship is disputable.

Aired August 25, 2017

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