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Don Juan

Don Juan (dŏn wän, jōˈən, Span. dōn hwän) [key], 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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