Picaresque and romance in Golden Age Spain and postcolonial Britain : a comparative study
Multiculturalism is not a new phenomenon in European history. Neither are its literary and artistic manifestations. This thesis compares and contrasts two distant but similar multicultural contexts: Golden Age Spain and postmodern Britain. Picaresque and romance are chosen to illustrate how authors question religious oppression, cultural intolerance and thought control within multicultural contexts. Cervantes and Rushdie give voice to marginalised minorities and deconstruct the grand-narratives of religion; Aleman, Kureishi, Dhondy and the author of Estebanillo Gonzalez all depict life at the margins. The establishment of a counter-canonical critique of literary tradition in Golden Age Spain, and the emergence and development of genres such as the picaresque, would not have been possible without Spain's multicultural heritage and the presence of Spanish marginal and dissident voices. Gradually these voices from the periphery vanished as Spanish minorities were absorbed by the centre. Likewise, the power to confront of a marginal genre, such as the picaresque, disappeared. From the Spanish case we can draw a parallel in contemporary Britain, where representations of the margins are becoming absorbed into the mainstream. Postmodern Britain recalls the Spanish case not only in terms of the emergence of minority voices which are being absorbed by the centre, but also in terms of the choice of genres to express hybridity, difference and cross cultural and religious encounters. However, there is a difference between sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain and postmodern Britain; ethnicity has become desirable.