The Buscón has proved to be one of the most controversial Spanish texts in recent decades. A. A. Parker believed it to be a work of Quevedo's maturity and one that embodied a moral vision of life and society. By contrast, Fernando Lázaro Carreter considered it to be the product of a young writer that constituted a virtuoso linguistic performance rather than the promotion of an ethical viewpoint: an example of art for art's sake. This article probes this disagreement and by a close comparison with other works of Quevedo, in particular El mundo por de dentro (1612) and the Heráclito cristiano (1613), suggests that, despite later revisions, the work belongs essentially to the years preceding 1613. It has a sophistication of style that the earliest prose satires lack. Furthermore, the depiction of Pablos is complex. On occasions Quevedo sympathizes with him, and even identifies with him; at other times, he ridicules him and despises him. Such a psychological complexity connects the novel with the troubled experiences of those of Quevedo's works written in 1612 and 1613.