This book concentrates on the main question regarding the picaresque novel: What is a picaresque novel? Since generations of scholars have come to no agreement the author uses a working definition. The (Spanish) forefathers of the genre provide the basis for the real point of interest, viz. the neglected, partly even forgotten early European picaresque works. These books are discussed with regard to similarities and differences, the working definition of the picaresque novel being the main point of reference at all times. The analysis of these works focuses on the following questions: Can the distinctive features of the picaresque be applied and how has the picaresque novel changed throughout the years? This book aims at those people who show a profound interest in the picaresque phenomenon, from its very beginnings to the eighteenth century. The author, of course, is very well aware of the fact that the phenomenon does not end in the eighteenth century but the classics of Defoe, Fielding and Smollett seemed to be the perfect works to round off this very personal picture of the picaresque novel.