Byron needed a hero, and came up with Don Juan. Byron’s version of Don Juan, however, is very different from the hero of legend, or even of Mozart’s D0n Giovanni. He’s passive, and does almost no seducing. Instead he gets seduced by women, who are invariably the sexual aggressors. Don Juan’s main heroic qualities are a certain pliable willingness to please, and curiosity that helps him to observe – though mostly not learn from – the situations that outside forces keep dropping him in.

I chose Frank Harris, a Victorian and Edwardian figure who was once more famous than his friend Oscar Wilde, as a great author and editor, and the best talker of his day. He’s largely forgotten now, except for his reputation as a liar. My impression is that he improved stories, but was not the liar of modern legend. He really was an adventurer who knew the most famous people of the day, and it is clear that women liked him, short and not terribly handsome though he was.

So he’s brave, truculent, is interested in women who are in turn interested in him, and a slightly unreliable narrator. That will do me. He is my narrator.

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