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Don Juan by Lord Byron
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Don Juan (1826)

by Lord Byron

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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    Asimov's annotated Paradise lost by John Milton (JessamyJane)
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    The narrative of the Honourable John Byron (commodore in a late expedition round the world) containing an account of... by John Byron (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Byron obviously knew his grandfather's Narrative and drew some inspiration from it for the shipwreck episode. Quite apart from that, John Byron's harrowing and haunting tale still makes a fine read.
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Lord Byron

Don Juan

Penguin Classics, Paperback [2004].

8vo. lv+759 pp. Edited by T. G. Steffan, E. Steffan and W. W. Pratt. Introduction by Susan J. Wolfson and Peter J. Manning [vii-xxviii]. Editors’ Note [xxix-xxxvi]. Notes [559-759].

First published separately, 1819-1824.
First published complete in 2 vols., 1826.
First published in Penguin Education, 1973.
Reprinted in Penguin Books with revisions and additions by T. G. Steffan, 1977.
Reprinted with new revisions and additions by T. G. Steffan, 1982.
Reprinted in Penguin Classics, 1986.
Reprinted with revised Further Reading, 1996.
Reprinted with a new Introduction and revised Further Reading, 2004.

Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction
Editors’ Note
Table of Dates
Further Reading

Don Juan
Motto to Cantos I–V
Preface to Cantos I and II
Dedication
Canto I
Canto II
Canto III
Canto IV
Canto V
Motto to Cantos VI–XVI
Preface to Cantos VI–VIII
Canto VI
Canto VII
Canto VIII
Canto IX
Canto X
Canto XI
Canto XII
Canto XIII
Canto XIV
Canto XV
Canto XVI
Canto XVII

Notes
--- Abbreviations
Appendix

================================================

This is not a review of Byron’s Don Juan. I have done that elsewhere. What follows is mostly concerned with this particular edition. Knights of the Blue Flag, protect the moral integrity of LibraryThing.

This Penguin Classics volume benefits from 20 pages of introduction and 200 pages of notes. Briefly, the former is worth reading, the latter is worth consulting, and on the whole this is a lovely edition for both Byronic neophytes and Byromaniacs.

The Introduction contains the usual suspects: fascinating historical background that improves your appreciation and pompous academic description that wastes your time. The latter is really no better than Bernard Shaw’s famous destruction of musical criticism by his mock imitation of it in relation to Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy:

Shakespear, dispensing with the customary exordium, announces his subject at once in the infinitive, in which mood it is presently repeated after a short connecting passage in which, brief as it is, we recognise the alternative and negative forms on which so much of the significance of repetition depends. Here we reach a colon; and a pointed pository phrase, in which the accent falls decisively on the relative pronoun, brings us to the first full stop.[1]

But the history is important. Byron aficionados would already know pretty much all of it, but newcomers to the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” (Lady Caroline Lamb in a burst of affectation) might find it interesting, even revealing.

It is not easy to understand today the outrage that Don Juan caused almost two centuries ago; then again, the eleventh commandment of “political correctness” reaching new heights every day, it might soon be possible. Publication history is instructive. John Murray, Byron’s long-term publisher, did publish the first five cantos in July 1819 and August 1821, but he already had tons of misgivings. When he urged the poet to revise as early as the spring of 1819, Byron was furious. He exploded with Shylockian rhetoric in his reply:

As to the Estimation of the English which you talk of,... I have not written for their pleasure;... I have never flattered their opinions – nor their pride – nor will I. – Neither will I make ‘Ladies books’ ‘al dilettar la femine e la plebe’ – I have written from the fullness of my mind, from passion – from impulse – from many motives – but not for their ‘sweet voices.’ – I know the precise worth of popular applause – for few Scribblers have had more of it – and if I choose to swerve into their paths – I could retain it or resume it – or increase it – but I neither love ye – nor fear ye – and though I buy with ye – and sell with ye – and talk with ye – I will neither eat with ye – drink with ye – nor pray with ye...

Byron advised Murray to publish the first two cantos anonymously and to omit the dedication to “Bob Southey”: “I won’t attack the dog so fiercely without putting my name – that is reviewer’s work”. Not that many failed to identify the author when the first two cantos of Don Juan did appear anonymously almost exactly 199 years ago. The dedication, a highly explosive stuff that opens the poem with a Big Bang, was first published only posthumously in 1833.

It was Murray, apparently, who ended their long and lucrative partnership. If he was worried about the first five cantos, he was horrified after he read the next three. “For Heaven’s sake revise them”, he screamed in a letter to the poet from October 1822. They were “so outrageously shocking that I would not publish them if you were to give me your Estate – Title and Genius”.[2] That was what Byron was waiting for. He promptly gave the cantos to John Hunt, a much more radical publisher. That was what Mr Hunt was waiting for. For the five months between July and December 1823 he published nine cantos (VI to XIV). The last two complete appeared on 26 March 1824, less than a month before Byron’s death at Missolonghi.

All cantos were best-sellers and hell-raisers from the beginning. Even friends and admirers were troubled, to say the least. John Keats, who admired Childe Harold, was outraged by the rapid swings of mood in the shipwreck episode (II.26-107), to my mind one of the absolute highlights in the whole work, but I can see why a fastidious soul like Keats was shocked. On 23 July 1819, just a week or so after the first two cantos were published, Murray sent a dismayed report from a number of Byronic friends. If he hoped to “reform” Byron, he was bitterly disappointed. The poet was adamant. In fact, he exploded again in one of those letters that must have been a serious fire hazard to write on paper. Worth quoting at length:

You are right – Gifford is right – Crabbe is right – Hobhouse is right – you are all right – and I am all wrong – but do pray let me have that pleasure. – Cut me up root and branch – quarter me in the Quarterly... but don’t ask me to alter for I can’t – I am obstinate and lazy – and there’s the truth. – But nevertheless – I will answer your friend C.V. who objects to the quick succession of fun and gravity – as if that case the gravity did not (in intention at least) heighten the fun. – His metaphor is that ‘we are never scorched and drenched at the same time!’ – Blessings on his experience! – Ask him these questions about ‘scorching and drenching.’ – Did he never play at Cricket or walk a mile in hot weather? – did he never spill a dish of tea over his testicles in handing the cup to his charmer to the great shame of his nankeen breaches? – did he never swim in the sea at Noonday with the Sun in his eyes and on his head – which all the foam of ocean could not cool? did he never draw his foot out of a tub of too hot water damning his eyes & his valet’s? did he never inject fof Gonorrhea? – or make water through an ulcerated Urethra? – was he ever in a Turkish bath – that marble paradise of sherbet and sodomy? – was he ever in a cauldron of boiling oil like St John? – or in the sulphureous waves of hell? (where he ought to be for his ‘scorching and drenching at the same time’) did he never tumble into a river or lake fishing – and sit in his wet cloathes in the boat – or on the bank afterwards ‘scorched and drenched’ like a true sportsman? – – ‘Oh for breath to utter’

Behind the extravagant language a profound point is hidden. Reading Don Juan, or any other great work of literature for that matter, makes no sense if you lack the experience which, at least in theory, should make your prejudices less blinding. Prigs and prudes, excessively humourless or sentimental nitwits, people who read mostly to have their prejudices confirmed (rather than destroyed) have no business reading Byron. As he said of Don Juan in another of those marvellous letters: “it may be bawdy – but is it not good English? – it may be profligate – but is it not life, is it not the thing? Could any man have written it – who has not lived in the world?” Quite so! (The last sentence from the above letter, as the authors of the introduction kindly remind the Shakespearean ignoramus, refers to “Falstaff’s return volley of tavern-cursing at Prince Hal” in Henry IV, Part I (II.2), Byron supplying here “a kind of prose-poem supplement.”)

So much for the introduction. Ms Wolfson and Mr Manning were wise indeed to include extensive quotes from Byron’s letters and some details about publication history and contemporary reception. These improved enormously the value of their essay. Their greatest contribution to Byron’s current fame, such as it is, remains their editorial work on the Penguin Classics volume Selected Poems (1996).

The notes are of two very different kinds. They differ greatly in usefulness.

The variant readings between the accepted text here and Byron’s manuscripts are fewer in number and of interest mostly to Byronic scholars. They are of use to the general reader only as an indication that Byron, fast and furious writer though he was, revised and polished his writings more than is generally recognised. For example, “my epic renegade” from the Dedication passed through “most tuneful Brother”, “my epic Convert” and “my loyal Convert” before it reached its final form. For those who want to know more about Byron’s Juanesque revisions, the editors recommend the massive variorum edition (eds. T. G. Steffan and W. W. Pratt, University of Texas Press, 2nd edn, 1971, 4 vols.) which served as a basis for the Penguin text.

Much the more numerous and more interesting notes are those explaining Byron’s mind-boggling range of allusions. The editors must be congratulated on their thoroughness. They rightly assumed that Byron does not belong to the British Isles, not even to the British colonies all around the world, but to the whole world. Their annotational policy is best left in their own words (note the scope of Byron’s learning, even though he was neither a scholar nor an intellectual).

In identifying Byron’s allusions, sources and analogues, the aim has been to minimize for the reader the task of exploring reference books and to keep in mind that what may be obvious to some readers may be wholly unfamiliar to others. People in Bristol or Glasgow, whose education has acquainted them with Biblical, Greek, Roman and English history and literature and whose residence in the British Isles has given them a store of environmental data, will at once recognize Doctors’ Commons, Shooter’s Hill, Becket’s bloody stone, the philosopher of Malmsbury, the devil who looks over Lincoln, verbum sat, the wooden spoons of the Cantabs, ‘kicks’ as monetary slang, that delicacy ‘bubble and squeak’, and the funny innuendo of petits puits d’amour. But can we be so confident that educated people in Seattle, Brisbane, Ottawa and New Orleans will not be halted by some of these morsels? And will they and the island subjects of Queen Elizabeth II remember post-obits, Romaic (which a bright young Texan did not) Thersites, buff and blue, Candia, Chrysostom in the desert, Eutropius, Semiramis (her courtier, courser and jury), Septembrizers, the Congress of Laibach, the bisexuality of Tiresias, the Trecentisti, poor Dolon, Ferdinand VII, tracasserie, ‘The very powerful Parson Peter Pith / The loudest wit I e’ver was deafened with’, and Cleopatra’s melted pearls, that baffled two learned men, who together had been medieval and Renaissance scholars for eighty years, and that turned up, after the usual devious search, in the very place one might expect those pearls to be – unmelted? [...] We have therefore preferred to provide information that some will find unnecessary rather than to leave other readers without the assistance they may need for an understanding of Byron’s intentions and implications.

Some of these “allusions, sources and analogues” were left alone even by Ernest Hartley Coleridge whose edition from the early twentieth century (1903) is stupendously, even oppressively, annotated. Yet when editorial opinions are expressed (which is commendable; hang the “impartial” editor), one shouldn’t accept them uncritically. Nor should one regard them as exhaustive.

Consider the first stanza of the first canto (I.1) in which we are told that we know Don Juan (rhymes with “true one”) from “the pantomime / Sent to the Devil somewhat ere his time”. The editors rightly observe that these “earlier conceptions of a crudely licentious Don Juan had little influence on Byron. His Juan is not a roué, but an affectionate lad, thrust by circumstance, or enticed, into amorous adventure.” This is an accurate portrait which will be confirmed in the next sixteen cantos.

But the editors might have gone a little further. Byron’s Don Juan seems to be quite an original creature. The hedonistic and Hell-defying title character from Mozart’s Don Giovanni is a lot more complex than the pantomime, but Don Juan bears no resemblances to him, either. The character has proven influential, too. Bernard Shaw derided Byron’s work in the preface to Man and Superman (1903), but he was content to borrow the concept of Don Juan, not as a seducer, but as the seduced. It was still a revolutionary idea at the time that women, perfect angels according to Victorian morality, could pursue men with impure intentions. Somerset Maugham’s early novel Mrs Craddock, first published bowdlerised in 1902, explored this idea, among others, and it was considered scandalous. Byron had been there more than 80 years before Shaw and Maugham, though he’d had the advantage of pre-Victorian ideas of gender relationships.

A little later in the same canto, when we are told that Don Jóse (Don Juan’s father) was an “honourable man” (I.35), the notes recommend us to look up Mark Antony’s famous speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (III.2). This seems strangely superficial to me. Granted that Byron uses the word ironically, there is no basis for comparison with Antony’s much more extensive and quintessentially dramatic use. If Byron thought of this tremendous scene at all, he changed the context out of recognition. And in this case the context is everything.

I have a long list with such quibbles, but it would be foolish to dwell too much on them. Few exceptions notwithstanding, the notes form a solid monument to Byronic scholarship. Many are indispensable, some are positively enlightening, and some have the quaint charm of monumental obscurity. Does anybody today read Maria Edgeworth (1768–1849), not to mention Sarah Trimmer (1741–1810) or Hannah More (1745–1833)? It makes you wonder about the fleeting nature of literary fame. Apropos of fame, who the heck remembers the lectures on mnemonics in England and Scotland by one Gregor von Feinaigle (1760–1819), a mountebank if there ever was one?

Among the rather extensive notes that challenge Byron’s own prejudices is one remarkable defence of Lord Castlereagh, the British Foreign Secretary form 1812 until his suicide in 1822 at the age of 53 and “not the blundering scoundrel that Byron excoriated.” This is putting it mildly. Byron’s attack on Castlereagh (Dedication, 11-15; Preface to Cantos VI–VIII) is possibly the most vicious in his complete output: “intellectual eunuch” is just about the kindest term he used. Since Castlereagh, according to the Penguin editors, “forestalled the United Irish rebellion by arresting its leaders” and “condoned Austrian control of Italy”, not to mention that he was a poor speaker who “liked to use metaphors and maladroit phrases”, Byron’s hatred was not entirely groundless.

Much to my delight, Byron’s letters are sometimes quoted (I wish it were more often) in the notes. They are full of trenchant opinions: “Nelson was a hero: the other [Wellington] is a mere Corporal, dividing with Prussians and Spaniards the luck, which he never deserved”. But they are not to be trusted implicitly. In one of them he famously declined that Donna Inez (Don Juan’s mother) had anything to do with his wife. But he had loaded the dice against himself. Mathematical talent is rare enough: it must have been even more so among women in Byron’s time. There are lines in which the poet seems to be having solid fun at the expense of poor Annabella (I.12-13, 15, 18):

Her favourite science was the mathematical,
Her noblest virtue was her magnanimity,

[...]
Her thoughts were theorems, her words a problem,
As if she deemed that mystery would ennoble ‘em.

[...]
Some women use their tongues; she looked a lecture,
Each eye a sermon, and her brow a homily,

[...]
Perfect she was, but as perfection is
Insipid in this naughty world of ours,
Where our first parents never learned to kiss
Till they were exiled from their earlier bowers,
Where all was peace, and innocence, and bliss,
(I wonder how they got through the twelve hours).
Don Jóse, like a lineal son of Eve,
Went plucking various fruit without her leave.


If the quarrels between Don Jóse and Donna Inez (I.26-27) were even remotely inspired by those of Lord and Lady Byron, I shudder to think what their marital life must have been like. Byron does seem to have based most of his characters, such as they are, on real persons he knew or had heard about (Lambro the pirate, for instance). The notes, however, are relatively silent on these matters. This is all for the better. Biographical treasure hunts all too easily degenerate into sheer idiocy.

Byron was anything but a prude and it’s a pleasure to record here that the notes are not prudish either. This was not always the case. Mr Coleridge in 1903 duly sourced “Formosum pastor Corydon” (I.42), but he “forgot” to inform us that “Alexis”, the second of Virgil’s Eclogues, is “a poem about pederastic love”. The Penguin editors even translate the first line: “The shepherd Corydon burned for fair Alexis, his master’s darling”. Whether Byron really thought it “horrid” or simply laughed at Donna Inez’s ideas of education: that is for you to decide.

The notes are really almost a work of art on their own, hardly less exhaustible than the poem. Among countless other treasures, they also contain detailed history of composition and publication as well as a number of rejected stanzas. And yes, also the story of “Cleopatra’s melted pearls” (XV.65). But that’s a long story!

Last and least, the notes also correct the poet’s mistakes. Genius of gargantuan proportions though he was, Byron was neither omniscient nor infallible. Considering that most of his references and even quotes were probably done from memory, he made remarkably few slips. For example, he confused St Augustine with Tertulian (XVI.5) and St Antony of Padua with St Francis of Assisi (I.64). He correctly said that the Iceland volcano Hecla “might scatter fire through ice” (X.59), but five cantos later (XV.92) he turned it into “a famous hot-spring in Iceland” (according to his own footnote). Nothing of this matters, of course. But it’s nice to be reminded from time to time that even Byron was human after all.

The Editors’ Note is unsurprisingly dedicated to important but somewhat unexciting editorial matters. In a nutshell, the text here includes gently modernised spelling (no apostrophes in past tense and past participles), reduced capitalisation (Byron was notoriously promiscuous there) and more or less original punctuation (Byron was notoriously careless there). Compared to the text edited by Jerome McGann in the Oxford World’s Classics edition, the differences are very minor indeed, at least as far as the hundred stanzas or so I have compared. I slightly prefer the Oxford version because, it seems to me, it conveys better the conversational ease of Byron’s verse. But there is no contest in terms of editorial help with Byron’s language: the much more heavily annotated Penguin text wins completely. Byron’s own notes are complete in both editions, of course.[3]

My only fairly serious criticism of the Penguin Classics edition has to do with the physical condition of the book. I like the histrionic Edmund Kean on the front cover, even if his portrait is only vaguely relevant, and I don’t mind the cheap paper. It’s the low-quality printing that bothers me. Especially the notes, which are printed in smaller font than usual, are often too dark and rather fuzzy; not exactly illegible, but just about. I have the temerity to expect more even at such an affordable price in our Age of Mass Production. The poem is printed four stanzas per page, convenient enough to read, but the font is somewhat too close for comfort. Physically speaking, the Oxford World’s Classic edition is easier to read, if not easier to hold thanks to some three hundred pages more.

Believe it or not (I don’t quite believe it myself), I have read the whole thing again in this Penguin incarnation. I had no intention of doing so for this review of the edition. But Virginia Woolf was right. This is indeed “the most readable poem of its length ever written”. Once you start reading, it’s very hard to stop. The rest of the world at once dissolves into non-existence and becomes sharper, deeper, more well-defined than before. This, at any rate, has been my experience once Byron and I set sail on the unpredictable seas of human nature (X.4):

In the wind’s eye I have sailed and sail, but for
The stars, I own my telescope is dim.
But at the least I have shunned the common shore,
And leaving land far out of sight, would skim
The ocean of eternity. The roar
Of breakers has not daunted my slight, trim,
But still seaworthy skiff, and she may float
Where ships have foundered, as doth many a boat.


Don Juan is usually described with the adjective “satirical”. This is, at best, an oversimplification. To be sure, quite often it is extremely funny and gorgeously irreverent. Only Byron could call Petrarch “the Platonic pimp of all posterity” (V.1) or monks “those vegetables of the Catholic creed [that] are apt exceedingly to run to seed” (XIV.81). And only Byron could write of Newton and apples like that (X.1):

When Newton saw an apple fall, he found
In that slight startle from his contemplation –
‘Tis said (for I’ll not answer above ground
For any sage’s creed or calculation) –
A mode of proving that the earth turned round
In a most natural whirl called gravitation;
And this is the sole mortal who could grapple,
Since Adam, with a fall or with an apple.


But Byron’s variety of tone is just as great as his curiosity. If he could hardly suppress a smile or a laugh even about the most solemn subjects, he finds it even harder to resist being serious even at his most flippant moments. The poetry has a dark and disturbing undercurrent which is where its true greatness lies. It is difficult to describe this in words and not much easier to demonstrate it with quotations. I won’t attempt the former, but I will try the latter with one stab at “martial immortality” (VII.83), one startlingly autobiographical aside (XIV.12) and one reflection on reality (XV.89):

When I call ‘fading’ martial immortality,
I mean that every age and every year
And almost every day in sad reality
Some sucking hero is compelled to rear,
Who when we come to sum up the totality
Of deeds to human happiness most dear,
Turns out to be a butcher in great business,
Afflicting young folks with a sort of dizziness.


I think that were I certain of success,
I hardly could compose another line.
So long I’ve battled either more or less,
That no defeat can drive me from the Nine.
This feeling ‘tis not easy to express
And yet ‘tis not affected, I opine.
In play there are two pleasures for your choosing:
The one is winning and the other losing.


Apologue, fable, poesy, and parable,
Are false, but may be rendered also true
By those who sow them in a land that’s arable.
‘Tis wonderful what fable will not do!
‘Tis said it makes Reality more bearable.
But what’s reality? Who has its clue?
Philosophy? No, she too much rejects.
Religion? Yes, but which of all her sects?


Don’t read Byron’s Don Juan for the story or the characters, such as they are; that would be like reading Moby-Dick (1851) as an ordinary sea tale or Wuthering Heights (1847) as a tourist guide to the Moors. Very likely you’ll be disappointed. You will certainly miss the best it has to offer. Read Don Juan for Byron’s exuberant and multifarious personality, for his insatiable lust for life, for his razor-sharp wit that holds nothing sacred, for his uniquely beautiful way with words (never mind his clumsy rhyming), and for his eternal insight into the human condition. The poem’s inexhaustible. Much of it may well prove too intimate to put into words and share with the superficial world.

I continue to claim that Byron without Don Juan would have been greater than Byron with Don Juan and nothing else. Nevertheless, even flawed and far from being Byron’s only great work, the poem is a tremendous achievement and a rare pleasure to read.

__________________________________________________​
[1] Music in London 1890-94 [1932], Vienna House, 1973, p. 338.
[2] Poor Murray! Cantos VI to VIII are dedicated to Don Juan’s adventures in the harem of the Turkish sultan, escape from Constantinople and participation in the Siege of Izmail. Some passages sound bold and brutal even today. How they sounded in 1823 I cannot even imagine!
[3] One notable difference between Oxford and Penguin is the prose preface to the first two cantos. The manuscript was left in a messy state and first published only in 1901 by Prothero in the last sixth volume of his seminal edition of Byron’s letters and journals. It’s a fascinating curiosity, but rather rambling and obscure, certainly much inferior to the verse dedication to Southey by way of preface. ( )
2 vote Waldstein | Jul 5, 2018 |
This was tremendous fun to read. Byron's personality infuses the work and he's a likable, open-hearted narrator. It's a picture of England just before the clouds of Victorian prudery turned love from a game to a chore. It also has a strong anti-war subtext that I wasn't expecting. A great read and a real surprise!
( )
2 vote le.vert.galant | Jan 26, 2015 |
One of my favorite works of poetry. Fantastic. A man's poet. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
It's been said (I can't remember by whom) that a great book should be read once in youth, once in middle age, and once in old age, just as a great building should viewed at dawn, in daylight, and at dusk.

I first read Byron's Don Juan when I was 25 years old. It was a Penguin edition, and I remember being very swept away by Byron's sexually-charged romance. I had always thought of 19th century poets as being very, well, Victorian. "We shall talk about love but it must be chaste, innocent love. No sex please; we're Victorian". Byron had no such prudish streak. Don Juan is filled with passion and love in equal measure. It has a sensuality that would have horrified Byron's contemporaries, but which shows a profound respect for love, sex, and women that was unheard of during his own era.

Now, as I'm closer to middle age then youth, I'm looking forward to revisiting Byron's Don and see if any of my perceptions have changed.
  Gayle_C._Bull | Apr 22, 2013 |
Incredibly clever, yet florid poetry. ( )
  michaeldreed | Apr 1, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lord Byronprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Austen, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kronenberger, LouisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manning, Peter J.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marchand, Leslie A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pratt, W. W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steffan, E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steffan, Truman GuyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolfson, Susan J.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Bob Southey!
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I want a hero: an uncommon want, when every year and month sends forth a new one, Till, after cloying the gazetts with cant, The age discovers he is not the true one; Of such as these I should not care to vaunt, I'll therefore take our ancient frien Don Juan--We all have seen him, in the pantomime, Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time.
Quotations
But--Oh! ye lords of ladies intellectual, Inform us truly, have they not hen-peck'd you all?
What are the hopes of man? Old Egypt's King Cheops erected the first pyramid And largest, thinking it was just the thing To keep his memory whole, and mummy hid; But somebody or other rummaging, Burglariously broke his coffin's lid: Let not a monument give you or me hopes, Since not a pinch of dust remains of Cheops.
There's not a sea the passenger e'er pukes in, Turns up more dangerous breakers than the Euxine.
A better cavalier ne'er mounted horse, Or, being mounted, e'er got down again.
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Book description
Byron’s exuberant masterpiece tells of the adventures of Don Juan, beginning with his illicit love affair at the age of sixteen in his native Spain and his subsequent exile to Italy. Following a dramatic shipwreck, his exploits take him to Greece, where he is sold as a slave, and to Russia, where he becomes a favorite of the Empress Catherine who sends him on to England. Written in ottava rima stanza form, Byron’s Don Juan blends high drama with earthy humor, outrageous satire of his contemporaries, and sharp mockery of Western societies, with England coming under particular attack.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140424520, Paperback)

Byron’s exuberant masterpiece tells of the adventures of Don Juan, beginning with his illicit love affair at the age of sixteen in his native Spain and his subsequent exile to Italy. Following a dramatic shipwreck, his exploits take him to Greece, where he is sold as a slave, and to Russia, where he becomes a favorite of the Empress Catherine who sends him on to England. Written in ottava rima stanza form, Byron’s Don Juan blends high drama with earthy humor, outrageous satire of his contemporaries, and sharp mockery of Western societies, with England coming under particular attack.

This authoritative edition now includes a completely new and substantially longer introduction that discusses the mythology of the Byronic hero
Extensive annotation covers points of interest, selected variant readings, and the historical allusions Byron wove into his poem

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Satirizes English society as it follows Don Juan from an illicit teenage love affair and subsequent exile to Italy, shipwreck, slavery, exploits in Russia as a favorite of the empress, and a journey to England.

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