Thursday, April 11, 2013



Most likely you've heard of the infamous Don Juan, but have you ever paused to ask yourself, "What, exactly, is his deal?"

I know I didn't.  Not until I came to Spain, anyway.  I knew that Don Juan was a notorious lover, but that's it.

There are various versions of the tale.  In general, however, it goes something like this:

Don Juan supposedly lived in Sevilla, specifically in Barrio Santa Cruz, where today there are plaques denoting his house and the house of one of his lovers, Doña Inés.  He was wealthy, handsome, prone to gambling and violence, and extremely proud of his prowess.

The plaque in Barrio Santa Cruz.  It reads something like:  "Popular rumor says that in this part of the old neighorhood, on Chorro Street, there was born a gentleman whom nobody could surpass in games, in fighting, or in love.  He died and was redeemed in Seville by Doña Inés, and the pen of Don José Zorrilla, in his retelling of the legend, gave him life in the universal work of DON JUAN TENORIO."
After seducing Don Inés, her father Don Gonzalo challenged him to a duel.  Don Juan, always the better fighter, won, but had to flee the city.  Shortly thereafter, Doña Inés died of sorrow.

Then Don Juan sees a vision of his own death.  His own burial.  Plot twist!  Don Juan was actually killed in the duel with Don Gonzalo, and here is where versions split:  sometimes, Doña Inés redeems him and together they go to Heaven.  In others, he is swept into Hell as punishment for his philandering, violence, and vanity.


The Don Juan legend is one that gets a lot of retelling, at least in Spanish literature.  What with shows like Once Upon a Time, books like Cinder, and movies like Jack the Giant Slayer, retellings are big these days.  I really like retellings, especially when they involve more obscure legends, though my all-time favorite is Ever After.  Not exactly obscure, but how can you go wrong when the fairy godmother figure is Leonardo da Vinci?  Right now, I'm reading This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent, both retellings/prequels of/to Frankenstein, written by one of my favorite authors, Kenneth Oppel.  If you like retellings, I definitely recommend them.

What's your opinion on the retelling trend?  What are you favorites?  What would you like to see?


  1. Wow, I had no idea! Very interesting. I LOVE re-tells because I love seeing how different people see the story and what they think "happened". I am even re-writing a lot of fairy-tales. :)

    Konstanz Silverbow
    A-to-Z April Blogging Challenge Co-host

    1. Awesome! Which are you rewriting, if you don't mind my asking?

  2. I really like fairy tales retold from a different POV. Like the musical Wicked. (I know, not a book). anyway, thanks for the info on Don Juan. it was fascinating.

    1. Hey, WICKED counts. It actually was a book before it was a musical, so it double counts :) I'm trying to think of other ones from a different PoV, but I'm drawing a blank...Any ideas?