Don Juan

Don Juan
Don Juan in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, a painting by Max Slevogt

Don Juan (Spanish, or "Don Giovanni" in Italian) is a legendary, fictional libertine whose story has been told many times by many authors. El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra (The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest) by Tirso de Molina is a play set in the fourteenth century that was published in Spain around 1630. Evidence suggests it is the first written version of the Don Juan legend. Among the best known works about this character today are Molière's play Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierre (1665), Byron's epic poem Don Juan (1821), José de Espronceda's poem El estudiante de Salamanca (1840) and José Zorrilla's play Don Juan Tenorio (1844). The most influential version of all is Don Giovanni, an opera composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, first performed in Prague in 1787 (with Giacomo Casanova probably in the audience) and itself the source of inspiration for works by E. T. A. Hoffmann, Alexander Pushkin, Søren Kierkegaard, George Bernard Shaw and Albert Camus.

Don Juan is used synonymously for "womanizer", especially in Spanish slang, and the term Don Juanism is sometimes used as a synonym for satyriasis.


Don Juan legend

Don Juan is a rogue and a libertine who takes great pleasure in seducing women (mainly virgins) and enjoys fighting their men. Later, in a graveyard, Don Juan encounters a statue of Don Gonzalo, the dead father of a girl he has seduced, Doña Ines de Ulloa, and impiously invites the father to dine with him; the statue gladly accepts. The father's ghost arrives for dinner at Don Juan's house and in turn invites Don Juan to dine with him in the graveyard. Don Juan accepts and goes to the father's grave, where the statue asks to shake Don Juan's hand. When he extends his arm, the statue grabs hold and drags him away to Hell.[1]


In Castilian Spanish, Don Juan is pronounced [doŋˈxwan]. The usual English pronunciation is /ˌdɒnˈwɑːn/, with two syllables and a silent "J". However, in Byron's epic poem it rhymes with ruin and true one, indicating that it was intended to have the trisyllabic spelling pronunciation /ˌdɒnˈdʒuːən/. This would have been characteristic of his English literary predecessors who often deliberately imposed partisan English pronunciations on Spanish names, such as Don Quixote /ˌdɒnˈkwɪksət/.

Chronology of works derived from the story of Don Juan

Both the Flynn and Fairbanks versions turn Don Juan into a likeable rogue, rather than the heartless seducer that he is usually presented as being. The Flynn movie even has him successfully foiling a treasonous plot in the Spanish royal court. Shaw's play turns him into a philosophical character who enjoys contemplating the purpose of life.


  1. ^ The Legend of Don Juan, Theatre Arts at the California Institute of Technology.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Apocryphal Tales, Karel Čapek.

Further reading

  • Macchia, Giovanni (1995) [1991] (in Italian). Vita avventure e morte di Don Giovanni. Milano: Adelphi. ISBN 88-459-0826-7. 
  • Said Armesto, Víctor (1968) [1946] (in Spanish). La leyenda de Don Juan. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe. 
  • Guillaume Apollinaire: Don Juan (1914).
  • Michel de Ghelderode: Don Juan (1928).

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Don Juan — (spanisch) oder Don Giovanni (italienisch) ist der Archetypus des Frauenhelden, eine grundlegende Gestalt der europäischen Dichtung. Der Stoff, der in der Literatur der vergangenen Jahrhunderte häufig aufgegriffen wurde, stellt ein klassisches… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Don juan — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Juan et Don Juan (homonymie). Présentation du Don Juan de Moz …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Don Juan — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Don Juan desenvainando la espada en Don Giovanni de Mozart; cuadro de Max Slevogt: Francisco d Andrade como Don Giovanni, 1912 Don Juan es un personaje arquetípico, configurado en la literatura española y con larga… …   Wikipedia Español

  • DON JUAN — Depuis qu’il a surgi, aux environs de 1630, le thème de don Juan s’est révélé l’un des plus stimulants dans la création littéraire et, accessoirement, dans l’art musical; enfin dans l’ordre de la recherche historique, sociologique et psycho… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Don Juan — /don wahn / or, Sp., /dawn hwahn / for 1, 2; esp. for 4 /don jooh euhn/ 1. a legendary Spanish nobleman famous for his many seductions and dissolute life. 2. a libertine or rake. 3. a ladies man; womanizer. 4. (italics) an unfinished epic satire… …   Universalium

  • Don Juan — Don Ju|an 〈[dɔ̣n xuạn] m.; s od. , s〉 Frauenheld, Verführer [nach der gleichnamigen Gestalt der span. Literatur] * * * Don Ju|an [dɔn xu̯an ], der; s, s [nach der gleichnamigen Sagengestalt in der spanischen Literatur]: Mann, der ständig auf… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Don Juan — (span., spr. chuán), Held einer spanischen Sage, die, unter dem heißen Himmel des Südens entstanden, in ihrer erschütternden Gewalt wie ihrer tief im Geiste des Mittelalters wurzelnden Grundidee, der Faustsage des Nordens entspricht oder vielmehr …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Don Juan 73 — Données clés Réalisation Roger Vadim Scénario Jean Cau Roger Vadim Jean Pierre Petrolacci Acteurs principaux Brigitte Bardot Maurice Ronet Jane Birkin Mathieu Carrière Pays d’o …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Don Juan — (don ju an) s. m. Séducteur, homme sans moeurs et sans conscience, mais agréable dans ses manières, et se faisant un jeu de perdre les femmes de réputation. Un Don Juan de bas étage. •   Traitez moi de perfide et d ingrat, appelez moi Don Juan et …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Don Juan — Don Ju|an 〈[dɔ̣n xuạn] m.; Gen.: od. s, Pl.: s〉 Frauenheld, Verführer; er ist ein Don Juan; sich wie ein Don Juan benehmen, aufführen [Etym.: nach einer Gestalt der span. Literatur] …   Lexikalische Deutsches Wörterbuch

  • Don Juan — Don Juan, mythische Person einer altspanischen Sage, die in Sevilla heimisch ist; D. I. Tenorio, soll liederlich gelebt u. die Giralda, eine sevillesische Jungfrau, deren Andenken auf dem Thurme gl. Nam. bei der Kathedrale verewigt ist, zu… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.