The Lost Diary of Don Juan A Novel

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The famously insatiable lover is brought brilliantly to life in this lively, suspenseful debut novel by Abrams (coauthor of The Multi-Orgasmic Couple; The Multi-Orgasmic Man). Framed as Don Juan's long-guarded diary, the narrative picks up at a gallop and never relents, tracing Don Juan's orphaned upbringing at a convent and torturous monastery before he escapes and joins a band of thieves. He is soon introduced to the Marquis, who trains the then amateur Lothario to become equally adept at swordsmanship and seducing women. (Abrams's background in Taoist sexuality is evident in the latter's scenes.) Don Juan develops a reputation as "some kind of demon," but the Marquis, who is close to the king, protects Don Juan from the inquisitor general's plans to punish him. Nevertheless, Don Juan resists the Marquis's plea that he marry to save himself, claiming he has no interest in love—until he meets pistol-packing firebrand Doña Ana. Abrams renders his hero with sympathetic understanding, and his erotic exploits—though heavy on plumage ("I sipped the moist nectar of her mouth as she opened her petals to me")—round out Don Juan instead of providing one-handed reading material. The story unspools with the invigorating trajectory of a thriller and the emotional draw of historical romance. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

"As long as desire is banished from the Kingdom of Heaven, there will always be a long line at the Gates of Hell." What's wrong with this sentence-other than its somewhat overheated quality-is the superfluous "always" (there's already "as long as"). Superfluousness is a recurrent fault in this corny retelling of the Don Juan legend; Abrams (former editor, Univ. of California Press) uses too many words, and too often they are the wrong ones-florid and self-consciously tony. Rather than letting the compelling story of the world's greatest seducer simply carry readers along, Abrams gussies things up with passages of purple prose (alliteration is a favorite of his, as are Gratuitous Capitals). From "I sipped the moist nectar of her mouth as she opened her petals to me" to "My heart . . . painted her skin in a hundred colors of pleasure," the writing in this potboiler embarrasses. (Abrams has coauthored books on love, sexuality, and spirituality; this is his first novel.) A Barbara Cartland version of the Don Juan legend; definitely not recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/06; the city of Seville, Spain, has declared 2007 the Year of Don Juan.-Ed.]
—David Keymer

Library Journal
For his first novel, a former University of California and HarperSanFrancisco editor tries on the life of Don Juan. Foreign rights have proliferated. With a seven-city tour; Book Club Reader feature. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The life and times of the legendary seducer, here imagined as a historical character whose diary has come into the possession of "editor" Abrams. It's not entirely a departure from the New Age-inflected nonfiction considerations of "love, sexuality, and spirituality" co-authored by Abrams (The Multi-Orgasmic Couple, 2002, etc.). For this Don Juan is an intellectual libertine given to debating the legitimacy of sexual experience with the women who enchant and gratify him, and with agents of the Spanish Inquisition. Juan grows to manhood in the latter years of the 16th century, during Spain's Golden Age. In his own suave, measured voice, we learn of his upbringing in a convent (after his unmarried mother had abandoned her infant), brief tenure in a monastery and commitment to a life of sensual pleasure and robust adventure-as a member of a jovial gang of robbers, and the tool of Machiavellian Marquis de la Mota (who employs Juan's bedroom expertise to cuckold and embarrass his political enemies). In a brisk narrative that nevertheless consists less of developing action than of multiple repetitions of essentially similar episodes, two themes are emphasized: Juan's heartfelt opposition to the Inquisition's punitive malevolence, and his genuine love for Do-a Ana, the beautiful noblewoman threatened with an unwanted marriage (to the aforementioned Marquis). Period detail is deftly handled, and the story is nicely fleshed out with vivid supporting characters (e.g., a randy Duchess who justifies her dalliance with Juan by pretending he is her absent husband; a legendary courtesan who equals him in skill and appetite; and Juan's ingenuous coachman Cristobal, who utters the novel's plaintive finalwords). And the sex scenes are juicy, if occasionally risibly florid. Perhaps not a novel to be loved, but a dependably entertaining one. Agent: Heide Lange/Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781615525140
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Pages: 322
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Carlton Abrams is the nationally bestselling author of The Lost Diary of Don Juan, which has been published in thirty languages. He writes fact-based fiction and did extensive research for his new novel, including swimming with and recording humpback whales, meeting present-day whalers, and cage diving with great white sharks. Previously an editor at the University at California Press and HarperCollins, he is the cofounder of Idea Architects, a book and media development agency.

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Read an Excerpt

The Lost Diary of Don Juan

An Account of the True Arts of Passion and the Perilous Adventure of Love
By Douglas Carlton Abrams

Atria

Copyright © 2007 Douglas Carlton Abrams
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416532507

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.

I would not risk inscribing my secrets in this diary had I not been convinced to do so by my friend and benefactor, Don Pedro, the Marquis de la Mota. I argued that nothing I would write could be circulated in my lifetime without my being condemned by the Holy Office of the Inquisition and burned at the stake. The Inquisitor himself branded this danger into my imagination just yesterday. Perhaps it is this fresh threat, or the ultimatum of the King, that has at last caused me to pick up this quill and ink these words. The Marquis insisted that it is for posterity that I should write this diary, one's reputation being the only true immortality. But it is hardly vanity alone that causes me to write.

Thirty-six years have passed since my birth, or more correctly since my mother left me, a swaddled bundle, in the barn of the Convento de la MadreSagrada. It is no doubt a sign of my advancing years that I have been persuaded for the first time in my life to consider how I will be remembered. Yet there is another desire that leads me to write in this diary. It is to pass on what I have learned about the Arts of Passion and of the holiness of womanhood. Since I have forsworn matrimony and have no heirs of my own blood, I must look to all who follow as my descendants and try to share with them what I have learned from the women I have been privileged to know so well.

A man's recollections always tend toward self-flattery, so I will not rely on my testimony alone and will instead write, as faithfully as possible, not only the events but the words themselves that were shouted during a duel or whispered during a passionate embrace.

It is this same pride that leads me to begin my account with the most daring seduction I have ever undertaken. My ambition was nothing less than to free the King's chaste and lonely daughter from her imprisonment in the royal palace of the Alcázar -- for a night. I knew that if I were caught, it would be my privilege as a noble to place my head on the executioner's block and avoid the shame of the gallows.

A man's ambition, however, like his fate, is not always known to him in advance, and as I left the arms of the Widow Elvira, I had no hint of the danger that I would embrace last night.

Copyright © 2007 by Idea Architects



Continues...


Excerpted from The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams Copyright © 2007 by Douglas Carlton Abrams. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Editor's Note

Rumors and Lies

A Flicker of Passion

The Desire of a Woman

No One Will Ever Know

Not Every Man with a Mask Is a Burglar

The Love of His Angels

A Vision of God

This I Cannot Do at Any Price

Like Salt into the Land

A Man Is Not Just What He Is Born

The Education of a Libertine

Gold in the Veins of Sevilla

The Slave Market

Taberna del Pirata

Secrets Never Stay Buried

A Thousand Nights with a Stranger

Corpus Christi

The Bullfight

Sins of the Flesh

The Deadliest Sin

Alma's Intuition

The Masquerade Party

Duchess Cristina's Invitation

The Truth

Knowledge That Could Lead to Our Ruin

Alma's Return

A New World

A Moth to a Flame

A Tour of Heaven

A Child of Deception and Cruelty

The Wager of Love

The Secret of Marriage

Safe Passage

Alma's Temptation

In the Name of the Holy Inquisition

Confession at the Alcázar

Dueling on the Rooftops of Sevilla

Doña Ana's Bedchamber

A Farewell

The Last Night: A Final Entry

Glossary and Notes

Acknowledgments

Author's Note

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Introduction

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. As an orphan Don Juan depended on the convent and Padre Miguel for healing and growth. Don Juan writes: "It was from Padre Miguel that I learned God always sides with the weak, with the widow, and with the orphan" (p. 33). Discuss the quote and focus on the role of the statues, priests, and nuns during his early years.

2. 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 of Don Juan? How would the women he encounters respond?

3. 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?

4. Don Juan's friend and benefactor, Don Pedro, the Marquis de la Mota, played a critical part in the development of Don Juan's noble character. Discuss the significance of the Marquis throughout the book. What forges their relationship?

5. 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?

6. For some, a sexual experience is a union and a bridge to profound feelings of oneness and bliss. How does The Lost Diary of Don Juan celebrate this idea of a blissful union between lovers?

7. How does the author illustrate the vision of Don Juan's true compassion for women to the reader?

8. Sword fighting was a critical part of a gentleman's existence during this time period. Discuss the art of sword fighting and how Don Juan develops his skill to perfection. How do his strength and his ability to fight with his sword affect how the women in Sevilla view him?

9. Finally Don Juan discusses "True Passionate Love" (p. 257) as he forgets all other women and discovers his need for only Doña Ana. What is it about Doña Ana that secures a hold over Don Juan? What does she have that other woman do not?

10. Don Juan eloquently breathes life into his desire and sensual ability to pleasure women, and is very successful at the art. Consider the following: "Was it not God Himself who made man to desire woman — flesh of his flesh — and for a woman's desire also to be for her man?" (p. 248). How is religion used to support Don Juan's relationships with women and his heightened talents?

11. 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?

Tips to Enhance Your Book Club

1. Throw a Don Juan party and view the 2005 movie Casanova, directed by Lasse Hallström. Discuss the parallels and differences between Casanova and Don Juan.

2. For further reading on the historical influences of Don Juan, visit http://www.don-juan.net and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Juan to learn more about Don Juan's story. After reading these sites, discuss the historical influences of Don Juan.

3. The tender topics courageously approached by author Douglas Carlton Abrams lends itself to discussion of the oldest debated topics in the world: passion and relationships. Read the book coauthored by Doug's wife, Rachel Carlton Abrams, M.D., The Multi-Orgasmic Woman, for a further exploration of women's passion and sexuality. Let both books act as platforms for further discussion and appreciation of various viewpoints on the topic.

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Reading Group Guide

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. As an orphan Don Juan depended on the convent and Padre Miguel for healing and growth. Don Juan writes: "It was from Padre Miguel that I learned God always sides with the weak, with the widow, and with the orphan" (p. 33). Discuss the quote and focus on the role of the statues, priests, and nuns during his early years.

2. 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 of Don Juan? How would the women he encounters respond?

3. 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?

4. Don Juan's friend and benefactor, Don Pedro, the Marquis de la Mota, played a critical part in the development of Don Juan's noble character. Discuss the significance of the Marquis throughout the book. What forges their relationship?

5. 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?

6. For some, a sexual experience is a union and a bridge to profound feelings of oneness and bliss. How does The Lost Diary of Don Juan celebrate this idea of a blissful union between lovers?

7. How does the author illustrate the vision of Don Juan's true compassion for women to the reader?

8. Sword fighting was a critical part of a gentleman's existence during this time period. Discuss the art of sword fighting and how Don Juan develops his skill to perfection. How do his strength and his ability to fight with his sword affect how the women in Sevilla view him?

9. Finally Don Juan discusses "True Passionate Love" (p. 257) as he forgets all other women and discovers his need for only Doña Ana. What is it about Doña Ana that secures a hold over Don Juan? What does she have that other woman do not?

10. Don Juan eloquently breathes life into his desire and sensual ability to pleasure women, and is very successful at the art. Consider the following: "Was it not God Himself who made man to desire woman — flesh of his flesh — and for a woman's desire also to be for her man?" (p. 248). How is religion used to support Don Juan's relationships with women and his heightened talents?

11. 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?

Tips to Enhance Your Book Club

1. Throw a Don Juan party and view the 2005 movie Casanova, directed by Lasse Hallström. Discuss the parallels and differences between Casanova and Don Juan.

2. For further reading on the historical influences of Don Juan, visit http://www.don-juan.net and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Juan to learn more about Don Juan's story. After reading these sites, discuss the historical influences of Don Juan.

3. The tender topics courageously approached by author Douglas Carlton Abrams lends itself to discussion of the oldest debated topics in the world: passion and relationships. Read the book coauthored by Doug's wife, Rachel Carlton Abrams, M.D., The Multi-Orgasmic Woman, for a further exploration of women's passion and sexuality. Let both books act as platforms for further discussion and appreciation of various viewpoints on the topic.

Read More Show Less

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