Monday, August 29, 2011

Lazarillo of Tormes: Most Beloved Short Story of Spanish Literature

Yayo el idolo picaresco de la argentina.Image via Wikipedia

(Excerpt ) from Chapter 5 - How Lazaro Found his Fifth Master: a Pardoner

 As luck would have it, my fifth master was a seller of papal indulgences. Not only was he arrogant and unprincipled, but also the biggest hawker of pardons that I've ever seen in my life or anybody ever hopes to see. He had all sorts of ruses and smooth tricks, and he was always thinking up new ones.

When he'd come to a place where he was going to sell these pardons, first he'd give the priests and the other clergy some presents—just little gifts that really weren't worth much: some lettuce from Murcia; a couple limes or oranges if they were in season; maybe a peach; a pair of apricots, or pears—the kind that stay green even after they're ripe.

That way he tried to win them over so they'd look kindly on his business and call out their parishioners to buy up the indulgences. When they thanked him, he'd find out how well educated they were. If they said they knew Latin, he kept mum so they couldn't trip him up; instead he'd speak in refined, well-polished, and flowery romance language. And if he saw that these clerics were political appointees, meaning that they bought their way into the priesthood instead of by going through school—he turned into a Saint Thomas Aquinas, speaking Latin for two hours, or, at least, something that sounded like Latin even if it wasn't.
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