Gil Blas a novel was completed in 1735. Known in French as L'Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane it is a picaresque novel (ie it features a loveable rogue) by Alain-René Lesage. Publication began in 1715. It was translated into English by Tobias Smollett.
Gil Blas is born in misery to a stablehand and a chambermaid of Santillana in Cantabria, and is educated by his uncle. He leaves Oviedo at the age of 17 to attend the University of Salamanca. His bright future is suddenly interrupted when he is forced to help robbers along the route and is faced with jail.
He becomes a valet and, over the course of several years, is able to observe many different classes of society, both lay and clerical. Because of his occupation, he meets many disreputable people and is able to adjust to many situations, thanks to his adaptability and quick wit.
He finally finds himself at the royal court as a favorite of the king and secretary to the prime minister. Working his way up through hard work and intelligence, Gil is able to retire to a castle to enjoy a fortune and a hard-earned honest life.