Byron: Don Juan


Happy birthday, Lord Byron (1788-1824)! I just re-read Don Juan, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is not only much more accessible than Byron’s only finished book length poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”, but is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, at least I found it so. Byron gets laughs on rhymes in PRECISELY the same way that many hip hop artists do — precisely the same way. Like Cervantes before him and Whitman who came after, Byron riffs on everything in Don Juan; the digressions are often just as rewarding as the plot. And like Shaw, Byron turns the Don Juan legend on its head. In his version, it is the women who keep pursuing the supposed Lothario, the same conceit Fielding used in Tom Jones. Oh, there ain’t nothin’ better than this. And the fact that my kid’s middle name is Byron is just a coincidence.

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