Lazarillo de Tormes
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Written during the decline of the Spanish Empire, this is the quintessential picaresque novel of this time period. Written in a direct, familiar, spontaneous, and picturesque style, it is a political commentary and a social critique that purposefully contrasts the life of the needy and the opulence of royal life. This classic marks the beginning of the great Spanish picaresque novels that would end with Don Quixote; it is a must-read for those studying Spanish literature.