Peter Stothard: Don Juan

This month’s book has been chosen by the journalist and author, Peter Stothard

“A decade ago, when I was dangerously sick for a year, I read Byron’s comic epic, Don Juan, most days, on a continuous loop, like a cassette-tape on autoplay. In Byron’s poem characters are abused, seduced, eaten, mugged and die of broken hearts. But it is also a guaranteed escape to ‘sun-drenched climes’ where, in the poet’s view,  the sexual escapades are always best. Sometimes on a cold day there will be a grateful empress. Byron’s Don is not so much a seducer as a good-hearted boy to whom good and bad things happen. He survives. Or, to put it another way, the poem is left unfinished before he dies.  In Canto XIV there is the line that ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. In this book that is one of the many encouragements. Give it with confidence.”



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