s the life of a rascally, amoral character
, usually from a low social class
, who goes through life taking part in adventure
s. Usually in the first person
by the "picaro
" him/herself, this cheerful, raffish character gets through life on his/her wits
, often cheating
(or nearly cheating) the gullible
, the pompous
, and the rich
An example of a picaresque novel is Willam Makepeace Thackeray's Barry Lyndon, told in the form of the autobiography of Irishman who serves in both the English and Prussian armies, becomes a successful gambler, and marries a wealthy countess whom he treats cruelly and whose fortune he squanders. Eventually, he dies in prison of delirium tremens.
The picaro's adventures usually follow no particular order, and episode in his/her life does not lead logically into next. Although a picaresque novel often has no recognizable climax or resolution, its author generally strives for a style, especially in the creation of characters who are not "too good to be true."
Other picaresque novels have included Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, Erica Jong's Fanny: Being the True History of Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones, Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March, and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.