Don Juan (dŏn wän, jo͞oˈən, Span. dōn hwän), legendary profligate. He has a counterpart in the legends of many peoples, but the Spanish version of the great libertine has become the most universal. At the height of his licentious career, Don Juan seduces the daughter of the commander of Seville and kills her father in a duel. When he later visits a statue of his victim and jeeringly invites it to a feast, the statue comes to life and drags Juan off to hell. The earliest-known dramatization of the story is El burlador de Sevilla (1630), attributed to Gabriel Téllez, who wrote under the pseudonym Tirso de Molina. Molière's Le Festin de Pierre (1665) and Mozart's opera Don Giovanni (1787) are perhaps the most famous treatments of the theme. Among the many other literary works that use the unscrupulous gallant as the hero are Byron's Don Juan, Espronceda's El estudiante de Salamanca, and Shaw's Man and Superman.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
the hero of many works of literature and art. Don Juan is a pleasure-loving cavalier and a violater of moral and religious standards, devoting his life to a search for sensual pleasures; he is the creation of a medieval legend.
One of the first literary treatments of Don Juan is the play by the Spanish dramatist Tirso de Molina entitled El Burlador de Sevilla (1630); his Don Juan, a vain seducer of women, was so socially typical that he attracted the attention of many writers, composers, and artists. Moliere’s comedy Dom Juan (1665) resounded with scourging, antifeudal satire. The hero of W. A. Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni (1787; libretto by L. da Ponte) is a self-willed dreamer, a seeker after the eternal feminine. Such an interpretation was developed in the 19th century by romantic writers (E. T. A. Hoffmann and A. Musset, for example). In Byron’s narrative poem Don Juan (1819-23), Don Juan is not so much a flighty bon vivant as he is a rebel in pursuit of personal freedom. In the humanistic treatment by A. S. Pushkin (The Stone Guest,1830) he is an egoist who tramples upon human laws and is therefore doomed.
REFERENCESNusinov, I. M. “Istoriia obraza Don Zhuana.” In lstoriia literaturnogo geroia. Moscow, 1958.
Weinstein, L. The Metamorphoses of Don Juan. Stanford, 1959.
Saint-Paulien. Don Juan: Mythe et réalité. Paris, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
literature’s most active seducer: “in Spain, 1003.” [Span. Lit.: Benét, 279; Ger. Opera: Mozart, Don Giovanni, Espy, 130–131]
internationally active profligate and seducer. [Span. Lit.: Benét, 279; Ger. Opera: Mozart, Don Giovanni, Wester-man, 93–95]
for murder, devoured by fire. [Span. Lit.: Benét, 279; Ger. Opera: Mozart, Don Giovanni, Westerman, 95]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
a legendary Spanish nobleman and philanderer: hero of many poems, plays, and operas, including treatments by de Molina, Moli?re, Goldoni, Mozart, Byron, and Shaw
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005