I can’t help comparing Byron’s poems to those of Keats and Shelley. Like them, he liked writing about Greek mythology, gave long descriptions of nature, and had an obsession with death. Byron seemed to write more about lost love than they did. He also lived longer than them and produced a lot more writing. Perhaps due to this, he moved on from the familiar themes into new territory. Compared to them, he was also something of a bad boy and gave us the Byronic anti-hero. The protagonists of his poems and plays are often deeply flawed, yet still sympathetic characters. (Byron even makes us feel sympathy for the Biblical Cain.) Continue reading
Lord Byron died before he was able to finish writing Don Juan, which is too bad because although it did kind of drag in the middle, it started to get good again towards the end. Byron kind of just made Don Juan up as he went, but in a letter, he did indicate that he had a vague overall plan: Continue reading
Well, this is it. We’ve finally reached the final canto of Lord Byron’s Don Juan. (He did get a few stanzas into Canto 17 before dying, but there’s not much there to comment upon.) I’ll do one more wrap-up post after this, but we’ve pretty much reached the end. Continue reading
So, as Canto 15 opens, Don Juan is still staying with some wealthy friends in the English countryside. Some of the married ladies are interested in Juan, including his host, Lady Adeline. As in the cantos before, not much happens in this canto either, but we do get more of Byron’s famous digressions. Continue reading
We last left Don Juan staying as a guest at an estate in the English countryside. Not much plot occurred in the last canto, and not much happens in this one either, but we do get more of Byron’s famous digressions.
He starts this canto with a discussion of suicidal tendencies. Continue reading
When we last left Don Juan, he had become quite popular in English society. What happens next? He’s invited to spend some time at the country estate of Lord Henry and his wife Lady Adeline Amundeville who is the queen bee of London society. They pass the time leisurely doing things like hunting, fishing, boating, writing letters, and having conversations over dinner. That’s about all that happens plot-wise, but we do get some more delightful digressions from Byron. Continue reading
When we last left Don Juan, he had become the toast of the town in London. So what happens next? Well, as usual, Byron starts with some general musings. I liked this bit in which he points out that there isn’t that much difference between a saint who lives a life of poverty and a miser: Continue reading
When we last left Don Juan, he had just arrived in England where he will remain for the remainder of the poem. Byron starts, as we’ve come to expect, by writing whatever he happens to be thinking about at the time. This time, it’s death. Continue reading
When we last left Don Juan, he was in Russia and Catherine the Great had taken a shine to him. Let’s see what happens next.
Canto 10 opens in praise of astronomers: Continue reading
When we last left Don Juan, he was fighting for the Russian army. Now what happens? Continue reading