The Byron Journal

Don Juan and the Dirty Scythe of Time

The Byron Journal (2013), 41, (1), 27–34.

Abstract

How old is Don Juan? The answer is obvious: the text, when appealed to, states categorically that he is sixteen when his adventures begin and twenty-one when we meet him for the last time at the breakfast table at Norman Abbey. But this pat response brings in its wake chronological problems that its author (and perhaps his complicit audience) usually ignores, for it argues that the seven interludes comprising Juan's adventures are spread out over a vast five-and-a-half-year time span, resulting in the undermining of the patina of reality that Byron was much exercised to demonstrate in the text. This essay seeks first to examine the chronology of the poem's creation as Byron wrote it and then to unpack its chronology qua poem to see if it is coherent or not, establishing along the way DonJuan's true (or at least likely) age.

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Author details

Gayle, N.