Lazarillo de Tormes and Machine Learning

The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities is an anonymous text published in 1554. This book is written as a letter in which the main character shares his life story. Each chapter focuses on his life as he was serving a different master.

One reason it’s significant is because many believe it founded the “picaresque” novel. This style features a lovable rogue, or pícaro, in episodic adventures. The style was later employed by many authors like Mark Twain in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Lazarillo de Tormes was also considered heretical due to its anti-clerical content, and this is why it was published anonymously. During the Spanish Inquisition, it was even banned.

Although distinguished scholars have tried to attribute it to different authors based on a variety of criteria, the book is still considered anonymous. The list of candidates is long and not all of them enjoy the same support within the scholarly community.

Interestingly, machine learning techniques to recognize style and text fingerprinting has been recently applied to Lazarillo de Tormes. (See article).

Analyzing other Spanish Golden Age works from a data-driven perspective and applying machine learning techniques, Javier de la Rosa and Juan Luis Suárez (The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada) shed light on the authorship of the Lazarillo.

Their conclusion is that the most likely author seems to be Juan Arce de Otálora, closely followed by Alfonso de Valdés. The article states that not certain attribution can be made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *