Throwing the scabbard away : Byron's battle against the censors of Don Juan.

No Thumbnail Available
Blann, Troy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
The problem with Don Juan is that it is too truthful--at least for the tumultous times in which it was written. Byron and his poetry express freedom in a variety of ways, so it was probably inevitable that his longest sustained satiric work would immediately clash against the political and moralistic strictures of his homeland--a country that he justifiably felt had banished him forever. The subject of the present study is Byron's writing of Don Juan and, in particular, his managing to get the provocative work into print in spite of the many forces determined to censor its satiric truth-telling.
This study is organized into five chapters. In chapter 1, a variety of background information is given in an attempt to explain historically why the publication of Don Juan met with such resistance. The next three chapters survey the Don Juan material that was considered for censorship. These chapters proceed in a roughly chronological order, following sequentially the publication of the 16 cantos of Don Juan. Chapter 2 focuses on the writing and publication of the first two cantos, including the controversy that the work sparked between Byron and his five friends who served as editorial consultants to the poet's conservative publisher, John Murray. Chapter 3 deals with the second publication of Don Juan cantos (3-5) and the frustration that developed between Byron and Murray over that publication--a frustration so extreme that Byron eventually switched publishers. Chapter 4 is concerned with Byron's hiatus from the writing of Don Juan at the request of his mistress Teresa Guiccioli and then his resumption of the work and rapid completion of cantos 6-16. The final chapter gives an overview of censorship as it influenced Byron and his writing of Don Juan. The poet's warring against the censorship of his masterpiece is shown in a broad context. Byron's battle with the censors was a significant part of his lifelong fight for freedom.