The Lost Diary of Don Juan
Douglas Carlton Abrams
Simon & Schuster
In a time of discovery and decadence, when the gold that poured endlessly into the port of Sevilla devalued money, marriage, and love itself, young Juan Tenorio was abandoned and raised by nuns. He grew up loving and worshipping all women, but a clandestine affair with one of the sisters forces him to leave the Church—and his plans for the priesthood—forever. Juan becomes a spy, as well as the world’s greatest libertine. But far from the heartless seducer that legend recounts, he seeks liberation and redemption as much as personal pleasure and gratification. He begins to keep a diary of his greatest adventures and the arts of passion he has mastered. The most dangerous adventure of all—the irresistible fall into the madness of love with the only woman who could ever make him forget all others—finally compels him to confess everything.
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 Madre Sagrada. 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.
If you would like to find out more about Douglas Carlton Abrams’ new historical fiction, THE LOST DIARY OF DON JUAN, you can visit his website at www.lostdiaryofdonjuan.com.