If it were sufficient to love, things would be too easy. The more one loves the stronger the absurd grows. It is not through lack of love that Don Juan goes from woman to woman to woman. It is ridiculous to represent him as a mystic in quest of total love. But it is indeed because he loves them with the same passion and each time with his whole self that he must repeat his gift and his profound quest.
Whence each woman hopes to give him what no one has ever given him. Each time they are utterly wrong and merely manage to make him feel the need of that repetition. ‘At last’, exclaims one of them, ‘ I have given you love’. Can we be surprised that Don Juan laughs at this? ‘At last?’ ‘No’, he says’, ‘but once more.’ Why should it be essential to love rarely in order to love much?
Is Don Juan melancholy? This is not likely. I shall barely have recourse to the legend. That laugh, the conquering insolence, that playfulness and love of the theatre are all clear and joyous. Every healthy creature tends to multiply himself. So it is with Don Juan. But furthermore melancholy people have two reasons for being so: they don’t know or they hope. Dont Juan knows and does not hope.
He reminds one of those artists who know their limits, never go beyond them, and in that precarious interval in which they take their spiritual stand enjoy all the wonderful ease of masters. And that is, indeed, genius: the intelligence that knows its frontiers. Up to the frontier of physical death Don Juan is ignorant of melancholy. The moment he knows, his laugh bursts forth and makes one forgive everything. He was melancholy at the time when he hoped.
Today, on the mouth of that woman he recognises the bitter and comforting taste of the only knowledge. Bitter? Barely: that necessary imperfection that makes happiness perceptible! It is quite false to try to see in Don Juan a man brought up on Ecclesiastes. For nothing is vanity to him except the hope of another life. He proves this because he gambles that other life against heaven itself. Longing for desire killed by satisfaction, that commonplace of the impotent man does not belong to him.
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus