Mikki's Reviews > The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes

The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes by Anonymous
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Apr 23, 12

bookshelves: novellas, spain
Read from April 21 to 22, 2012

In the prologue, the author makes mention of fortune and those that are born into it -- rightly stating that little credit is due since luck of the gene pool was partial to them from the start. But what of those Fortune was against?

"Who had nothing to thank but their own labor and skill at the oars for bringing them into a safe harbor?"

What about the Lazaros of life? Born in (yes, in) the Tormes River; son to a morally unrestrained mother and swindler for a father, poor Lazaro was furiously treading to keep his head above water from day one. Sold at a young age to act as guide for a blind man, he soon finds himself in a situation much akin to Dicken's Oliver -- homeless, beaten, begging and scamming just for the sake of a little gruel. We watch as he shuffles from one dishonest master to the next, relying only on his quick wits and trickery learned along the way in order to survive. And that he does...masterfully. Row Lazarillo Row!

Though it may not sound like it, The Life of Lazarillo De Tormes is far from a depressing book and is in fact, one of the most engaging, humorous novellas that I've ever come across. Told through first person narrative, this little gem is smart, tightly written and bold in its blatant jabs at the hypocrisy of Spain's elite society and religious leaders. It is no wonder why the author remained anonymous.

I have seen some English translations available online, but after skimming through a few, I assure you that the work is inadequate as compared to the W.S. Merwin version. Stick with this translation and you will not be disappointed--there will be much giggling to yourself and possibly an impromptu reading aloud to whomever is passing. They will thank you.




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Reading Progress

04/21/2012 "Still going strong in the 24 hour book reading challenge. Moving on to second novella out of four after having taken a break with some of Breece Pancake's short works. Why did I discover this man so late?"

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by Sylvia (new) - added it

Sylvia And still reading for your 24-hours challenge. How many cups of coffee did you drink ;)


message 2: by Mikki (last edited Apr 21, 2012 11:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mikki Ahahaha! I actually steered clear of too much coffee for fear that I'd overload and then crash. I'm an insomniac by nature so that helps. :)

It's also been a help that I chose good books. Sylvia, this has to be one of the funniest pieces of literature that I've read in quite some time.


message 3: by Sylvia (new) - added it

Sylvia I saw you join an event the Yasunari Kawabata Month. I've checked his books and love the titles. They are very promising. See if I can find them here in Holland. Although he has been a Nobel Prize Winner in 1968 I've never heard about translations of his work in Dutch.


Mikki Hmmm, I'm not sure of his available translations. The group is The World's Literature and right now we're reading works from Japan which are sometimes available online through public domain (Kawabata is not unfortunately). Look at the group page and see if it interests you and maybe you'll want to join!


message 5: by Sylvia (last edited Apr 22, 2012 05:50AM) (new) - added it

Sylvia I'll check it, but I don't know if will join in May, because I have a buddy read on Lord of the Rings in May and I'm still reading for the Travel around the World in 52 books.

How are you doing? Still reading, or have you finished the 24 hours challenge


Mikki A little more than an hour to go. I'm reading some short stories and then I'll probably crash. :)


message 7: by Sylvia (new) - added it

Sylvia Have a good sleep and pleasant dreams about the stories you have read.


message 8: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Darn! My library only has this as an electronic resource. I'll have to keep an eye out at the used book stores.


message 9: by William1 (new)

William1 Ah Mikki, you are a joy. Who else even knows that this book exists, or that Merwin translated it as a young man? You are a real find. Thanks for this review.


Mikki Jeanette wrote: "Darn! My library only has this as an electronic resource. I'll have to keep an eye out at the used book stores."

Jeanette, yes keep an eye out for this edition -- Amazon has used, but I'm slightly OCD when it comes to the condition of books other than new or like new. But many times I've received difficult to find books in great condition, so one never knows...


Mikki William wrote: "Ah Mikki, you are a joy. Who else even knows that this book exists, or that Merwin translated it as a young man? You are a real find. Thanks for this review."

Aw, William, thanks so much. This book was the real joy -- so clever. You will enjoy this immensely and though it's such a quick little read, it is more than satisfying. Oh, how I laughed.


message 12: by William1 (new)

William1 I've moved it next on the read pile


message 13: by Sylvia (new) - added it

Sylvia Jeanette wrote: "Darn! My library only has this as an electronic resource. I'll have to keep an eye out at the used book stores."

Hi Jeanette. I just checked abebooks uk . They have quite a number of copies very cheap. I always buy my secondhand books there and 95 percent of it are LIKE NEW, VERY GOOD and GOOD copies. They have second hand webshop in the USA too, for I ordered several of my books in America.


message 14: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope Yes, abebooks (iberlibro in Spain) is great. Note that it was purchased by Amazon in 2008, and with it a share in Librarything.

As for the Lazarillo, this is read in school in Spain since it is a national classic and a well known character. I should read it again, now as an adult...!!!


message 15: by Sylvia (new) - added it

Sylvia Kalliope wrote: "Yes, abebooks (iberlibro in Spain) is great. Note that it was purchased by Amazon in 2008, and with it a share in Librarything.

As for the Lazarillo, this is read in school in Spain since it is ..."


When I saw Mikki was reading this book, I recognize the title and I think it was mentioned in college, during one of classes on European literature together with Don Quixote. I see if I can find a copy on abebooks.co.uk for a reasonable price.


message 16: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne Mikki,

what a great review. Not it's a must-read for me too.


message 17: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma How do you do it? These reviews of yours are better than half the novels I've read this year! Most impressive, Mikki.


message 18: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma Mikki wrote: "Jeanette wrote: "Darn! My library only has this as an electronic resource. I'll have to keep an eye out at the used book stores."

Jeanette, yes keep an eye out for this edition -- Amazon has used,..."


Slightly OCD? We're way beyond that when it comes to used books! LOL


Mikki William wrote: "I've moved it next on the read pile"

I really hope that you like it, William. What's funny is that I, too, had to make a "next up" reading shelf due to titles going lost or forgotten in my "to-read." I think I'll keep it rotating with 5 or 10. :)


Mikki Sylvia-- I always forget about abebooks, so thank you for the reminder. Would you say that they have a wider selection or more translated works than Amazon?

And do you know that I have never even read Don Quixote...sad, but true. Though, now, after reading Lazarillo I am very much motivated to rectify this oversight!


Mikki Anne & Taj, thank you. Eager for the two of you to read this -- it was such a great unexpected find.

Taj, don't even start with my issues when it comes to books! :)


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