First published in 1985. What sort of poem is Don Juan, and how does it maintain its momentum through its long and often struggling narrative? These are the questions that Bernard Beatty proposes in this subtle and elegant discussion of Byron’s masterwork. The legend of Don Juan was entrenched in European literature and other arts long before it came under Byron’s hands, yet Byron’s treatment of the story is often almost unrecognisably far from its forebears. Beatty indicates how deeply Byron has assimilated his predecessors in order to produce his own work.
The sustained argument of this book raises questions of interest not only to students of Byron but of comedy in general, as well as of the place of religious motifs in apparently secularised modes.