Description   |   Syllabus

Fidelity, Adultery, Promiscuity: In Search of Don Juan
Bard College
Fall 2005

Mark Danner 
 LIT 3022 TUESDAY 9:30 - 11:50 
OLIN 310 
 What could be more "natural" than love? We have all lived it, chased its pleasures, been driven by its mandates, suffered its pain. In this course we will trace the literary construction of love and fidelity and the elaborations of betrayal. Reading will include Tirso de Molina, Moliere, Casanova, Mozart/daPonte, Choderlos de Laclos, Byron, Shaw and Millhauser.

Main Class Requirements. This is a seminar. 
It is most important that students: 
 * Attend all classes 
* Participate vigorously in discussions
* Do all reading and writing assignments 

The class meets only fifteen times and attendance is mandatory. Though there will be a mid-term examination and a final paper, the student's record of attendance and participation in class discussion, together with the thoroughness of preparation, will determine the success of our class and contribute the better part of his or her grade. *Writing.* Students will be assigned a final paper and an in-class mid-term examination consisting of essay questions designed to test his or her familiarity with the required reading and the class discussion. In this upper-level literature seminar, grades for the papers and the exam will depend heavily on the clarity and vigor of the writing. (Strunk and White's small book Elements of Style and George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" are strongly recommended reading for this course.) 

*Books.* All but one of the main course texts will be obtainable in the Bard bookstore. The exception, Oscar Mandel's essential volume The Theatre of Don Juan: A Collection of Plays and Views, 1630 - 1963 (Nebraska, 1963), is unfortunately out of print. It is, however, widely available on the internet and each student should obtain a copy of this book as soon as possible. *Films.* From time to time during the term we will screen films intended to complement our studies. Of the scores of films taking up the Don Juan theme, students are encouraged to take special note of the following: Lewis Gilbert, "Alfie" (1966) Hal Ashby, "Shampoo" (1975) Francois Truffaut, "The Man Who Loved Women" (1977) Joseph Losey, "Don Giovanni" (1979) Mike Figgis, "Internal Affairs" (1990) Jeremy Leven, "Don Juan DeMarco" (1995) Jim Jarmusch, "Broken Flowers" (2005) John Dahl, "The Last Seduction" (1994) Roger Vadim, "Les Liaisons dangereuses" (1959), Stephen Frears, "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988) Milos Forman, "Valmont"(1989)

*Notable Dates.* 19 September ' Class on Monday at 4:30 instead of Tuesday 9:30 4 October - Midterm Examination 6 December ' Final Paper due 13 December ' Last Class

Contacting the Professor. Mark Danner is best reached by email at Information on him and his work is available at his website, Office hours will be announced.

*August 30.* Introducing Don Juan ' And Why He Matters 

Does love bear some necessary relation to fidelity? If so, what is that relationship?

*September 6.* Tirso and The Birth of Don Juan

The literary origins of the Don Juan legend. Don Juan's debt to myth and fable: the 'double invitation' and where it comes from. Why was this particular legend appealing to audiences, helping it survive the brutal struggle of literary natural selection?

Tirso de Molina, The Playboy of Seville, or Supper With A Statue (1616?), (in the translation of Mandel, The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 47-100) 

Oscar Mandel, 'The Legend of Don Juan' in Mandel, The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 1-37

Recommended: Oscar Mandel, 'Don Juan in Spain,' in The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 37-47

Ian Watt, 'El Burlador and Don Juan,' in Myths of Modern Individualism, pages 90-120

*September 13.* Moliere's Classical Don Juan, or the Hypocrite's Escape

Don Juan's journey from Spain to France, via the world of puppets and traveling actors. Moliere's version. Don Juan as social critic and connoisseur of hypocrisy. The abstracted lover.

Jean Baptiste Poquelin de Moliere, Dom Juan ou Le Festin de Pierre (1665) (in Richard Wilbur's translation, Don Juan)

Oscar Mandel, 'Don Juan in Italy, France and England,' in The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 100-117 Don Juan website: (Go to Site Map, then User Guide)

Richard Wilbur, 'Introduction,' in Don Juan

Recommended: Ian Watt, Myths of Modern Individualism, pages 207-210

*September 19.* Don Juan Ascending: Mozart's Don Giovanni

A look at the Don Juan legend as opera. The opera as comedy and tragedy. Don Juan born of an era of secularization and liberalization. Once again Don Juan takes advantage of society's hypocrisy. Don Juan as audience favorite, object of women's fantasy and men's envy. Marriage as an 'unnatural' institution. Between nature and monogamy, the birth of frustration, longing, fantasy.

Guest Lecturer ' Leon Botstein, President, Bard College

Lorenzo da Ponte, 'The Punished Libertine, or Don Giovanni' (1787) in The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 286-315

Lorenzo da Ponte, 'Don Giovanni,' in Don Giovanni (English National Opera Guides, #18)

Soren Kierkegaard, 'From Either/Or,' in The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 456-64  

Oscar Mandel, 'Mozart, Da Ponte and Don Giovanni o il dissoluto punito,' in The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 278-85

Recommended: Peter Conrad, 'The Libertine's Progress,' in Jonathan Miller (editor), Don Giovanni: Myths of Seduction and Betrayal (Schocken, 1990)  

Peter Gay, 'The Father's Revenge,' in Miller Joseph Kerman, 'Reading Don Giovanni,' in Miller Joseph Losey

Don Giovanni (videorecording), Peter Sellars, and Don Giovanni (soundrecording) ' On Reserve in Stevenson Library

September 27. Choderlos de Laclos: Don Juan and the Eternal Feminine

Don Juan as a libertine ' the game player. A era of experimentation and eroticism. Seduction and love played or studied, made into an art, rather than emerging, as natural, uncontrollable forces. Dangerous Liaisons offers us a female Don Juan, calculating and playful and driven to conquer.

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses (Oxford, 1998 [orig., 1792])

Marina Warner, 'Valmont ' Or The Marquise Unmasked,' in Miller, Don Giovanni: Myths of Seduction

Roy Porter, 'Libertinism and Promiscuity,' in Miller

Robert Darnton, 'Don Juanism from Below,' in Miller

Louis Menand, 'Stand By Your Man: The Strange Liaison of Sartre and Beauvior,' The New Yorker, 9-26-2005.

*October 4.* Midterm Examination

The midterm will consist of a series of essay questions designed to draw out close readings of books we have read and discussions we have had. (Text below.)

*October 11.* Fall recess (no class)

*October 21.* Don Juan Made Flesh

I: Casanova A look at a real life Don Juan, his adventures, and his eventual struggle with his own mortality. A broad look at late seventeenth century European society and the wanderings and 'strivings' of a true Don Juan and a celebrity on the stage of his own life. The arc of his life, from lover to celebrity.

Giacomo Casaova, The Story of My Life (Penguin, 2000 [orig, 1798])

Edmund Wilson, 'Giacomo Casanova,' from The Wound and the Bow

*October 25.* What Is 'Modern' Love and Who Created It?

The origins of 'modern' love and its links to sex and eroticism. The creation of modern love in the Twelfth Century. From the troubadours to our ideas of how to love. Chivalry and Freud and the conflict of traditional and modern love.  

Octavio Paz, The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism (Harcourt, 1993)

Sigmund Freud, 'On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love' -------------------, 'On Narcissism: An Introduction' -------------------, ''Civilized Sexual Morality and Modern Nervous Illness,' all in Solomon and Higgins (eds.),

The Philosphy of (Erotic) Love (Kansas, 1991), pages 153-177

*October 31.* Love and Terror Film Series "Shampoo"(1975) Directed by Hal Ashby (6:30 PM Weiss Cinema)

Don Juan in Beverly Hills. Don Juan as a stressed out contemporary American, where love is an obligation. A look at Election Night 1968 from the vantage of post-Watergate 1975. The failure to find love in a world of corruption and money.     

*November 1.* Don Juan Made Flesh II: Lord Byron

Don Juan as the passive lover ' a hero who is acted upon. Don Juan as Byron's mouthpiece, offering a frame for setting out a post-Revolutionary disappointments in a conservative era. The collapse of the Revolution's strivings for the Rights of Man and hopes for a better world.

Lord Byron, Don Juan (Penguin, 1973 [orig, 1824])  

Peter Quennell (editor), Byron: A Self-Portrait

"Letters and Diaries, 1798 - 1824" (John Murray, 1950), excerpts

*November 8.* Myths of the Modern: Faust and Don Juan I

The myth of Faust, and his place as the striving figure of the Enlightenment: he who will overcome the limits of human tradition. Faust as the other great outsider, the embodiment of the preoccupations and apprehensions of a post-traditional society  

Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, First Part in Walter Kaufmann (translator), Goethe's Faust (Anchor, 1962) [Second Part, recommended]

Walter Kaufmann, 'Introduction,' Goethe's Faust

*November 21.* Love and Terror Film Series "Alfie" (1966) Directed by Lewis Gilbert (6:30 PM Weiss Cinema)

Don Juan as Britain's Angry Young Man who, with all the poison,distrust and aggression of post-World War II England, meets the sexual freedom of the burgeoning Sixties.

*November 22.* Myths of the Modern: Faust and Don Juan II

Ultimate man of flesh Don Juan is pitted against his intellectual other half, Johannes Faust. In their constant striving and utter disregard for others, both are damned in the end, though Don Juan loves and succeeds in loving, while Faust's love is unhappy and in the end catastrophic.  

Christian Dietrich Grabbe, 'Don Juan and Faust,' (1829) in The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 328-98

*November 28.* Love and Terror Film Series "Internal Affairs" (1990) Directed by Michael Figgis (6:30 PM Weiss Cinema)

Don Juan as a man who gains power over other men by seducing their women. Don Juan as psychological manipulator in quest of power, which he pursues through the nightworld of criminal Los Angeles.

*November 29.* Zorrilla's Romantic Hero: Don Juan Domesticated

The most popular of Don Juans, performed yearly throughout the Spanish-speaking world on All Saints and All Souls Days. Don Juan as the lover who falls in love. Don Juan's redemption by the Beloved. Don Juan as the man who is saved by true and sanctified ' and entirely chaste ' Love. Don Juan as the savior of religious faith, and religious love.

Jose Zorrilla y Moral, 'Don Juan Tenorio,' (1844), translated by William I. Oliver, in The Theatre of Don Juan, pages 471-538

*December 2.* Shaw's Jack Tanner: The Lover as (Failed) Revolutionary

Don Juan as social revolutionary and Nietzchean superman, exposing society's hypocrisy and vowing to remake it. Don Juan as exposer and vanquisher of Shame. The optimism of the early Twentieth Century. Woman as the holder of the secret power, the enactor of the power of the Life Force through marriage and procreation. Don Juan as the man who imagines he acts and is in fact acted upon

George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (Penguin, 1957 [orig, 1907])     

*December 6.* The Good Soldier and The Collapse of the Modern World  

A powerless, dessicated Don Juan sketched in the frame of a masterful literary artist. Ford's impressionism, tempered by his narrator's stupidity and mendacity. Edward Ashburnham's longing for medieval values: Ashburnham as Lohengrin at the collapse of the European order. The looming place of August 4: The Good Soldier as a portrait of the nostalgic lover moving toward self-destruction as the Old World consumes itself.

Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (Barnes & Noble Classics, 2005 [orig, 1915])

Frank Kermode, 'Introduction,' to The Good Soldier (Barnes & Noble Classics, 2005), pages xiii-xxxiii

Albert Camus, 'Don Juanism,' in The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays (Vintage, 1955), pages 69-77

Recommended: Oscar V. de L. Milosz, Amorous Initiation: A Novel of Sacred and Profane Love (Inner Traditions, 1994 [orig. 1910])

Note: Final Papers Due

© 2022 Mark Danner