The Demise of Don Juan
THE SOURCE: “A Splendid Wickedness” by David Bentley Hart, in First Things, Aug.–Sept. 2011.
The mythical story of the energetic seducer Don Juan fascinated Europe for three centuries, stirring thinkers such as Søren Kierkegaard and Albert Camus to pen reflections on his character. But today the Don Juan myth is all but dead. How did one of literature’s most potent figures become what David Bentley Hart calls an “imaginative impossibility”?
The early Don Juan offered commentators the opportunity to weigh in on society’s morals, argues Hart, a First Things contributing editor. A longtime folk legend, the infamous sensualist made his first notable literary appearance in the...