The Lost Diary of Don Juan: An Account of the True Arts of Passion and the Perilous Adventure of Love
by Douglas Carlton Abrams

Published: 2007-05-01
Hardcover : 320 pages
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It was a time of discovery and decadence, when life became a gamble and the gold that poured endlessly into the port of Sevilla devalued money, marriage, and love itself. In the midst of these treacherous times, Juan Tenorio is born and then abandoned in the barn of a convent. Raised ...
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It was a time of discovery and decadence, when life became a gamble and the gold that poured endlessly into the port of Sevilla devalued money, marriage, and love itself. In the midst of these treacherous times, Juan Tenorio is born and then abandoned in the barn of a convent. Raised secretly by the nuns, he learns to love and worship all women and wants nothing more than to be a priest, until he falls in love with one of the sisters. When their affair is discovered, Juan leaves the Church forever. He is soon recruited to be a spy by the powerful Marquis de la Mota, who teaches him to become the world's greatest libertine and seducer of women. But when he crosses swords with the most powerful man in the Empire, Don Juan must escape the murderous fury of the Inquisitor who battles all forms of debauchery, deviance, and heresy.

It is after knowing countless women that he is convinced by the Marquis to keep a diary, and it is here within its pages that Don Juan reveals his greatest adventures and the Arts of Passion he mastered. But what finally compels him to confess everything and risk losing his life, livelihood, and honor is the most perilous adventure of all -- the irresistible fall into the madness of love with the only woman who could ever make him forget all others.

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Chapter One: Rumors and Lies

I write in the naked pages of this diary so that the truth will be known and my fate will not be left to the rumors and lies already whispering through the streets of Sevilla. Many, I am sure, will try to turn my life into a morality play after I am dead, but no man's life is so easily understood or dismissed. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

One of the central themes in the story is passion and seduction, and Don Juan’s ability to deliver these experiences to women. What qualities does Don Juan possess that make him so successful? What does this say about Don Juan? How would the women he encounters respond?
Don Juan says, “One who understands the workings of desire understands the very secret of life—even the barren life of a king’s daughter” (p. 20). What is this secret of life? Why does the Infanta not call the guards? Why does she—why does any woman—allow herself to be seduced?
Don Juan repeatedly discusses man’s inability to be monogamous and “to be faithful to one’s wife seems like an unnecessary penance to almost all men. . . . I am not willing to wed a woman just to be unfaithful and untrue” (p. 111). What do you think of this statement? How does Don Juan’s attitude change by the end of the book?
Consider the following statement spoken by Fatima: “There was more pleasure in one kiss from the man I loved than a thousand nights with a stranger” (p. 120). Does Don Juan feel the same? What about the other characters?
How does the author illustrate the vision of Don Juan’s true compassion for women to the reader?
What is the secret of marriage that Manuel tells Don Juan (p. 234)? Do you agree with it? What is the secret that Serena tells him? Do you agree with her advice? What do you think is the nature of love and the secret to a joyous lifelong commitment to one other person? Do you think the passion and love that Manuel and Serena have can be maintained throughout a lifetime? What role models of True Passionate Love have you encountered?
Finally, Don Juan discusses True Passionate Love (p. 257) as he forgets all other women and discovers his need for only Dona Ana. What is it about Dona Ana that secures a hold over Don Juan? What does she have that other women do not?
Don Juan declares, “We shared our bodies with a fusion of love and lust—which I now understand is nothing more and nothing less than the holy consort of love” (p. 274). Discuss the beauty in the above statement. How does Abrams illustrate Juan’s innocence and tenderness? How does this ending support the passionate ideals of today?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Dear Reader:

One question I am often asked about my novel is: How and why did you choose to write about Don Juan? Well, the truth is it wasn't a conscious decision. One night I went to bed asking myself a question that I believe every married man or woman asks eventually: How could I stay happily and passionately married to my wife for the rest of my life? The next morning I awoke as if I had been shaken. It was then that I first thought of Don Juan, the universal symbol of passion. What if he had kept a diary? What secrets would it contain? What could we learn from him about the nature of love and passion? And ultimately what might cause the world’s greatest seducer to forsake all women for one woman?

I left my wife’s warm sleeping body, walked past our three sleeping children, and sat down at the dining room table. It was if a voice was whispering in my ear. It was as if Don Juan wanted to be vindicated from those who had portrayed him as nothing more than a sinful seducer and despoiler of women—for this Don Juan was no mere frat boy out to put notches on his bedpost. The Don Juan who showed himself to me that night was a fully three-dimensional human being, with desires, yes, but not just desires for sex. This Don Juan desired to live life fully and to love fully—a man who felt the emptiness of life without love and saw that emptiness in many others—and empathized with them.

Thus my desire in writing this book was not only to resurrect this greatest of historical lovers and to give voice to his true motives; I was also moved to write a book that would explore the tension between lust and love and that would confront the human question of how any man or woman can find lifelong satisfaction in one committed relationship—and how Don Juan himself was able to find such a love. I hope you will be able to take some of Don Juan's discoveries about the nature of love and desire to enrich your own passionate embrace of life.



Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Fun, swashbuckling romance with Don Juan's backstory and plenty of intrigue."by Holly L. (see profile) 05/08/11

A pleasure to read but not much for a group discussion. The descriptions of Sevilla and the Spanish countryside are wonderful. The author puts you on the scene as it unfolds. Enjoyable book for the beach... (read more)

  "thrilling and exciting to the last page, wonderful!"by Jennifer W. (see profile) 12/12/07

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Beautifully written and full of adventure.

  "This is a wonderful interpretation of the legendary Don Juan"by Ariel C. (see profile) 05/16/07

I grew up wanting to visit Spain, when I finally did in 1998 I fell in love. Truth be known, I really fell in love with the Southern part of Spain or Andalusia and in particular with the ci... (read more)

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