The Byron Journal

The Dedication to Don Juan Re-Examined: Hazlitt—Wat Tyler—Don Giovanni

The Byron Journal (2017), 45, (2), 141–154.

Abstract

In February 1817, the publication of Wat Tyler spectacularly destabilised Robert Southey’s roles as Poet Laureate and chief literary policeman for the Quarterly Review. In April 1817, the ‘famous, and famously belated’ English premiere of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the King’s Theatre represented the storming of a court citadel by city radicals. William Hazlitt drew on the symbolism of these two exhumed works when he invited Southey to Don Giovanni as an antidote to the Laureate’s self-righteous ‘prudery’. Byron was certainly paying attention (if not always respect) to Hazlitt’s output when he began Don Juan: this article examines some of the overlaps in their anti-Laker rhetoric, the possibility that Hazlitt influenced Byron’s choice of dedicatee and hero, and the ways in which the Southey stanzas in the suppressed Dedication vibrate with the energy of contributions to the Wat Tyler Controversy by Hazlitt and other anti-ministerial writers.

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Author details

Woodhouse, David