La construcción estética de la realidad: Vagabundos y pícaros en la Edad Moderna

Roger Chartier


According to the author, many historians tend to separate the social reality from its particular aesthetic representation; moreover, these historians tend to think that the different aesthetic representations appear as the consequence of the reality itself. However, the author thinks that it is not always possible to separate the existing social reality from its aesthetic representations found in literature or painting. This article analyzes the picaresque literature that was published in France in the 17th century with the purpose of proving how the aesthetic representation took an active part in the creation and building of the social reality of that time. Taking into account the social rejection that some increasing social groups (wanderers, beggars, thieves) suffered in France and in the rest of Europe in the 17th century, the author shows us how the aesthetic representations of these groups in novels such as El Buscón, written by Francisco de Quevedo, changed the existing reality and built a new one. The picaresque literature provided the readers with a careful description and classification of those people, as well as a description of their own slang. The rogues and wanderers that these novels showed were hierarchical and highly organized, as if they were members of a particular monarchy of wanderers. In spite of the fact that all the information found in the picaresque novels was basically fiction (most of the things were invented by the authors), the readers began to take to the wanderers and the beggars because they believed that these people were organized and behaved like them: as if they were part of a monarchy. In this sense, the author shows us that the aesthetic representations shown in the picaresque novels were able to change the social reality of a group of people that was rejected from society and helped in the building of a new one.

Palabras clave

Historia cultural; literatura picaresca; representación

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Revista semestral presente en:
Tiempos Modernos: Revista Electrónica de Historia Moderna
ISSN: 1699-7778