Don Juan, Canto I, by Lord Byron

I listened to an excellent reading of the first Canto of Byron's Don Juan that I downloaded free from Librivox. Byron (a dissolute, corrupt, romantically brooding fellow) completed 16 cantos before his death, becoming more famous and more beloved of his publisher which each volume.

Byron took earlier versions of the legend of Don Juan and remade the character into a light-hearted amorous adventurer who is forever falling in and out of love with women. This first Canto introduces his family and traces his introduction into the arts of love by the beautiful Julia, who is 'married, charming, chaste, and twenty-three'.

There's as much amorous play, though slightly fewer farts, in Don Juan as in Canterbury. It was a pleasure to listen to these rolling verses, larded with editorial asides and commentaries. I've read so much about Byron, but this is the first time I've read any of his longer workss, the ones that made him a celebrity. He was scandalous! A darkly brooding figure who debauched maidens and youths and obsessed about his half-sister. One of his lovers, Lady Caroline Lamb, called him 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know.'

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