The Byron Journal

Gaiety and Grace: Byron and the Tone of Catholicism

The Byron Journal (2013), 41, (1), 1–14.

Abstract

This essay is concerned with the levity of Don Juan, which tends to be viewed as a form of debunking or ‘de-creating’ irreverence, and hence as intrinsically opposed to the religious. Against this tendency, the essay suggests firstly that levity and reverence may coexist, without the former subverting the latter, as seen in the poet's extended prayer to the Virgin Mary, which gives way to without being retroactively annulled by a gesture of flippancy. In the second place, drawing on the work of John Henry Newman, it is argued that levity is a posture that may be engendered by faith and that the intermingling of seriousness and levity - which constitutes the dominant tone of Don Juan - is ‘the special characteristic of a Catholic country’.

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Author details

Hopps, Gavin