- Relating to an episodic style of fiction dealing with the adventures of a rough and dishonest but appealing hero.
“His new novel was full of picaresque characters getting into scrapes and always escaping the arm of the law.”
“The most exciting characters on TV are the picaresque lawbreakers — charming, but always getting into trouble.”
“My dating history is full of picaresque people, but I’m ready to find someone different to start a family with.”
French, early 19th century
Why this word?
Picaresque characters have been popping up in literature for hundreds of years. The beloved classics “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Pippi Longstocking” detail the exploits of the roguish title characters. The Spanish novel “Don Quixote” is an excellent example of picaresque fiction. (The word “quixotic,” meaning “impulsive or unpredictable,” was coined in honor of the title character.) For a more modern take on the picaresque novel, add “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson to your reading list.
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