The Byron Journal

Bubbles, Butterflies and Bores: Play and Boredom in Don Juan

The Byron Journal (2010), 38, (2), 145–156.

Abstract

Byron is oddly poised on the borders of the modern understanding of boredom. His own awareness of boredom and its intricate intertwining with light-hearted play seems to have been heightened during the writing of the English cantos of Don Juan, with the result that a ludic dialectic between play and boredom can be readily observed in these cantos. This essay seeks to sketch the contours of this paradoxical relationship by looking at three images that frequently appear towards the end of Don Juan – bubbles, butterflies and bores – arguing that Byron's experience of boredom simultaneously threatens but also undergirds his most playful poetic modes.

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Author details

Gabelman, Daniel