Displacement and Don Juan Essay

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Displacement and Don Juan Unlike the fitfully epic Don Juan , I’d like to begin in medias res , with the anger of Lord Byron. We join him thick in the struggle with a central concern of DJ’s composition: the perils of transmission: Pray when I send you a parcel or packet—do acknowledge it—I care nothing about my letters or your answers—I only want to know, when I have taken trouble about a thing that it has arrived. By the time he fired off those impatient words to his publisher John Murray in 1821, Byron had been living abroad and publishing overseas for five years. They were years marked by drastic shifts of tone in his writing – from earnestness to playfulness in his poetry, and quite the reverse trajectory in correspondence…show more content…
When Byron left England for good in 1816, and took up Childe Harold once again, he still didn’t trust the post; instead, he found close friends who were headed from Italy to London—friends who had inspired or supplemented Byron’s work, such as Percy Shelley and John Cam Hobhouse—to carry Childe Harold back to Murray. The transmission of DJ’s first two cantos went along similarly improvised, inside lines - with the distinction that the bearer of this new “cargo of poesy” was a only a minor acquaintance of Byron’s, the roving Lord Lauderdale, who had no personal link to the lines he carried. The reader of Byron’s letters of November 1818 finds many references to Lauderdale wending his way slowly towards London with verse Byron knew would make a big impact. Yet when he delivered DJ, Lauderdale also carried along with it unflattering gossip about Byron’s Venetian dissipation. It was a marred delivery, with Lauderdale proving to be, Byron later wrote, a “damned old ‘Ladro—& porco fottuto,’” a “’son of a Bitch for all his laced Coat.’” The personal courier meant a compromise of authority. Byron sent the remainder of DJ to London via the impersonal mechanism of the post. That method of delivery, of course, offered its own hazards. The reestablishment of postal routs directly after the continental wars had to seem tenuous,

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