Monday, September 15, 2008

Guest Blogger: Douglas Carlton Abrams, Author of The Lost Diary of Don Juan

I'm thrilled to be hosting Douglas Carlton Abrams, author of The Lost Diary of Don Juan, as a guest poster today. Please give him a warm welcome! -- Ruth


Was Don Juan truly nothing more than a rapist and a villain? You would certainly think so, judging by how he has been portrayed over the centuries.

From his inception, Don Juan has been depicted as a libidinous scoundrel, capable of rape, misogyny, and even murder. When Tirso de Molina first created the character of Don Juan in the early seventeenth century, he did so as a warning against the dangers of rampant male sexuality and the galanteadores, who were seducing the women of the time. Later, in Mozart and Da Ponte’s opera Don Giovanni, Don Juan rapes a woman and kills her father almost before the curtain even rises.

But would Don Juan have been capable of feeling and doing much more? Male desire can be villainous and overpowering, but it is also multi-dimensional, ranging anywhere from heroic passion to caring tenderness. Any man long rumored to be the world’s greatest lover would certainly have understood these subtler aspects of desire, as well as the unspoken needs of the women he loved.

It is this side of Don Juan’s story that motivated me to write The Lost Diary of Don Juan. I wanted to explore the true nature of love and passion by creating a more complex Don Juan than the one we usually meet. His previous incarnations in plays, novels, and films have only allowed us to see the man from a distance, and we have judged him accordingly. Reading about his life in the form of an historical diary set in Golden Age Sevilla lets us go further into the body, mind, and heart of the man himself. What we find there is far more than an indifferent playboy, but rather a man for whom romance was elevated into an art form, a Casanova with a calling.

This is a Don Juan worthy of far more than mere lust and villainy, a man capable of forming deep and complex relationships with women. This 16th century Don Juan is worth recovering for the 21st century, if only to provide balance in a culture that all too often forgets the true complexity and mystery of desire.

5 comments:

  1. This book sounds like an interesting exploration of the story of Don Juan! I'm looking forward to reading it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would love to read this book! I know this had to be very interesting researching for this book.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is the line that caused me to enter for the drawing - "his 16th century Don Juan is worth recovering for the 21st century, if only to provide balance in a culture that all too often forgets the true complexity and mystery of desire."

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds great. I've been on a big historical kick lately so I'll have to add this one to my stack.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There is often more than one side to a character or historical figure. These are humans after all and are we not multifaceted. I love the way in which Abrams fleshes out Don Juan as a sympathetic character in spite of his desires to lay with multiple women. He is not only a cad, but one who is afraid of truly loving one woman and becoming beholden to her as her faithful husband. He fears this love because he does not deem himself worthy.

    ReplyDelete