Redeeming levity: Byron's Don Juan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter has two correlative aims: on the one hand it seeks to complicate the customary conception of Byron as a figure of strength, and on the other hand it challenges the commonplace pejorative understanding of levity as a matter of frivolity, irreverence, or licentiousness, by drawing attention to other, more positive forms of lightness that also play a vital role in Byron’s comic masterpiece. More particularly, by reflecting on Don Juan’s ‘three graces’ (the Duchess of Fitz-Fulke, Lady Adeline, and Aurora Raby), the chapter highlights three contrasting models of levity: the carnivalesque, the courtly, and the eschatological. One of the surprising things that emerges from this consideration of the poem’s intermingling of sexual, socio-political, and religious forms of lightness is an underlying posture of epistemological weakness, which both fosters and is fostered by a sceptical openness to possibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge companion to Byron
EditorsDrummond Bone
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781108953863
ISBN (Print)9781108844888, 9781108948968
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • Levity
  • Weakness
  • Carnivalesque
  • Courtly lightness
  • Sprezzatura
  • Eschatological indifference


Dive into the research topics of 'Redeeming levity: Byron's Don Juan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this