Lazarillo was the one who officially started the picaresque novel genre, which was a huge success throughout the XVII century. Although is very common to include the Lazarillo of Tormes in the picaresque genre, the first literary character called “picaro” (the origin of picaresque which means “rascal”) by his author was Guzmán de Alfarache. In fact, the rise of the picaresque novel was caused by the first part of Guzmán de Alfarache, written by Mateo Alemán. The second part was published in 1604 (created by Mateo Luján de Saavedra, penname of the Valencian Juan Martí) and, within fifty years after, they were followed by a great number of picaresque novels who made their own contributions to the delinquency and roguish subjects. Guzmán has three different translations into French; combined, they all reached a total of 18 editions throughout the XVII century. It was also translated into German, English, Dutch, Italian and Latin.
Naturally, it’s difficult to define the limits of the picaresque genre. Currently, a novel can be categorized as picaresque when it shares the same frame of reference as the Lazarillo or the Guzmán de Alfarache: pseudo-autobiographical narrative, no loyalty, picaresque character of low social class or despicable origin, a unique perspective, memories by episodes, misadventures, and a final and accepted state of dishonor explained by a past.