books Project Gutenberg

Lazarillo de Tormes

Novella written almost 500 years ago, but still hilarious today.

This novella was written around 450 years ago and it is one of the funniest things that I have ever, not just read, but experienced. As the title says, this book follows the adventures and more often the not misadventures of a lowborn man caller Lazarillo. In the span of the book, he stays with and is employed by a few masters. He had hoped that working with them will make his life better, that he will be able to eat more and maybe save up money for his family back home.

But all those dreams fail in a hilarious fashion. It is also a book that dares to criticize both the aristocracy of that period, but also the Catholic Church. The fact that it criticized the church when the Inquisition was raging not only in Spain but in other parts of catholic Europe as well, is the reason why the author of the book stayed anonymous. It is also in the ethos of the book, it is important to survive.

It also attacks hypocrites in positions of power shallow people who think appearing of a certain social rank will indeed make them of that rank.
One of my favorite jokes in the book comes when Lazarillo is under the care of a priest. He hoped life with the priest would be better than a life with a beggar, but he ate even more. His insides were almost glued to his spine. The only time the priest made money and was able to provide food was during funerals. So what does Lazarillo do? He plays night and day that more and more people die, just so he can finally get a steady diet of at least one proper meal per day. I would have done the same in his position.

You can experience this hilarious novella for free. You can read it by clicking on this Project Gutenberg link or listen to it, as did I, by clicking on this Librivox link.

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