Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Patrick Poivre D’Arvor – "Don Juan's Death" (La Mort de Don Juan)

« Don Juan's Death» (La Mort de Don Juan)  is an interesting novel published in 2004 by Patrick Poivre D’Arvor, a well known cultural personality in France.
Much as an insect drawn to the flicker of a camp fire, the reader falls quickly under the spell of this book.

I read the first, imaginative pages, likely written in a frame of mind that can only  be described as noirceur de l’âme -  melancholy and profound sorrow. 
I was captivated by the novel’s confessional tone, the elegance and fluidity of its monologue.  To be perfectly honest, my reading was spurred on by the main character - he had piqued my curiosity.

The character – Victor Parker- is obsessed with the life and dealings of Lord George Gordon Byron.

In Victor’s words : « For every action in my life – or almost – Byron had been  my guide » (page 88). The title of the novel is, of course, a reference to Byron’s poem.

Caught in the pendulum movement of the narrative that binds  Victor and Lord Byron, I kept turning page after page. I would not be disappointed.

The turn of events continued in a a crescendo of surprises, up till the crux of the novel - when Victor undergoes a brain transplant.

The transplanted (and perfectly conserved) brain belongs to – who else? – Lord George Gordon Byron.

Throughout the book I learned or was reminded of details of Byron’s life.
« In 1817, Byron swam six kilometers from the Guiccioli palace, on the Canal Grande to the Lido beach » (page 52).

I thought to finish this post with the following lines:

From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

« My task is done, my song hath ceased, my theme
Has died into an echo; it is fit
The spell should break of this protracted
dream. »

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