The unlikely heroes of the Spanish picaresque vels make their way - by whatever means they can - through a colourful and seamy underworld populated by unsavoury beggars, corrupt priests, eccentrics, whores and criminals. Both Lazarillo de Tormesand Pablos the swindler are determined to attain the trappings of the gentleman, but have little time for the gentlemanly ideals of religion, justice, hour and bility.
Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645), author of The Swindler, was a prolific writer of poetry and prose and closely involved in Spanish and Italian politics. After killing an opponent in a duel in 1611, he moved to Italy where he spent some time as a prison governer, and some time imprisoned in a monastery as a result of his writings. The authorship of Lazarillo is unknown. Michael Alpert is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wesminster and has published widely on Spanish history.