Giacomo Casanova was born on April 2, 1725 on the Calle della Commedia in Venice, Italy. His parents were actors; because they were so often on tour, he was raised almost exclusively by his grandmother (according to some sources, her dominating personality, and the role of a witch who used "magic" to cure sickly young Giacomo's chronic nosebleeds, led to complexes--in more adult years he engaged in crossdressing)
After his father dies in 1733, he is sent to study with one Dr. Gozzi(Casanova greatly admired him) in Padua. His stay there lasts four years, until 1738. His first steps towards his legendary reputation are taken here, the scene of a love affair between him and the Doctor's young sister Bettina (she was 13; he was 10). After completing his studies at Gozzi's, Casanova enrolls in the University of Padua to study law. He is tonsured on Feb. 14, 1740, and at the tender age of fifteen is already a fine guide of Eros's bow. In 1742, upon receiving his degree, he enters the Seminary of San Cipriano, intending to become a priest. This...ahem...doesn't work out; he is expelled for scandalous conduct that same year.
Upon returning to Venice, he is imprisoned for a few months. He is then appointed secretary to the Bishop of Martirano (Calabria, rural Italy). He does not like it because Calabria apparently doesn't have enough of a scene. Ater a few more legendary affairs (Donna Lucrezia notable among them) he enters the service of yet another clergyman, Cardinal Acquaviva of Spain. He is "involved" in orchestrating an elopement (in this case, he was completely innocent) and the resulting scandal forces the Cardinal to dismiss him.
Here, there is a rather interesting episode. In 1745, Casanova meets a castrato, named Bellino. He refuses to believe that Bellino is a man. Sure enough, he's right. Casanova unmasks Bellino (now named Teresa Lanti; her real name was Angiola Calori) and they fall in love and do the planning-to-marry bit. Unfortunately, Casanova is too concerned with social status to allow this to happen (acting was not a presitigious profession, especially for a woman), and they part ways.
After a bout of illness and a group of friends who insist on curing him with magic, he meets his most precious love: Henrietta. The affair lasts eight months, July 1749 - February 1750. The dark Frenchwoman is forced to leave him in February, and Casanova becomes the classical lover who has lost, comparing love to a monster and engaging in various depressed things.
He goes to Paris, then returns to Venice. There, he meets Caterina Capretta, has an affair with her (naturally) and asks her father for her hand(that is more surprising). The father says HA! and puts Capretta away into a convent. There, she meets a nun who is having an affair with the French ambassador.
At this point, all four of them (Casanova, Capretta, M.M.(the nun), and the ambassador) all fuck each other until it comes time for the ambassador to return to France.
Sound juicy yet? Get this:
The Venetian secret police are on Casanova's trail, allagedly because of some "occult works." In actuality, they are afraid of him and his vast network of powerful contacts (acquired during his travels and occupations, and by his Freemasonry). On July 25, 1755 he is arrested and put into the "Leads," a group of cells directly under the roof of the Ducal Palace. Six months later, he manages to make a daring escape and flees Venice for Paris, where he is widely feted and becomes a celebrity. In Paris, he performs several secret missions for the government and meets the Marquise d'Urfe, whose secret ambition is to be reborn as a man. Impressing her with his knowledge of the occult, he hoodwinks her out of a million franks.
Here, he goes through a bad streak. From '59-'62, he is arrested and charged several times; at one point the Marquise intercedes for him. He keeps hoodwinking her; this comes to a culmination when he explais that he will use an associate to impregnate her, and she will die and be reborn in her son. Ther Marquise believes him until...she discovers she's not pregnant. With that cash cow dead, he travels around Europe. In London, a prostitute rips him off for a large sum of money (the humiliation!), and from here he dates his decline.
He tours Eastern Europe, in 1766 even becoming famous for a duel with a member of the Polish royal family (He wins.) Then, he ruins a chance at employment in Spain for himself, and falls ill in the South of France. There, he meets none other than Henriette's servant, through whom they exchange letters.
Throughout the 1770s, Casanova works on his writing. Much of his body of work dates from this period. He continues to travel everywhere in Europe, and at one point almost sails to Madagascar. Affairs everywhere, of course. In 1788 he accepts the offer of a librarian position in the castle Dux, in Czech territory. There he is tormented by the locals, and is tremendously unhappy and depressed. From 1790-1798, he writes his most famous work: The History of My Life(Histoire de ma vie), now considered a manual of seduction unparallelled in Western literature. He dies April 4, 1798 of a urinary tract infection.
- 1769: Confutazione della Storia del Governo Veneto d'Amelot de la Houssaie
- 1772: Lana caprina. Epistola di un licantropo
- 1774: Istoria delle turbolenze della Polonia
- 1775-8: Dell'Iliade di Omero, tradotta in ottava rima(translation)
- 1780: Il duello
- 1782: Di anneddoti viniziani militari ed amorosi del secolo decimoquarto sotto i dogadi di Giovanni Gradenigo e di Giovanni Dolfin
- 1783: Né amori né donne; ovvero la stalla ripulita
- 1785: Exposition raisonée du différent qui subsiste entre les deux républiques de Venise et d'Holland
- 1787: Histoire de ma fuite des prisons de la République de Venise qu'on appelle les plombs
- 1788: Jcosameron, ou Histoire d'Edouard et d'Elisabeth qui passèrent quatre-vingts un ans chez les Mégamicres habitans aborigènes du Protocosme dans l'intérieur de nôtre globe
- 1789: Solution du problème deliaque
- 1789: Corollaire à la duplication de l'hexaedre
- 1789: Démonstration géométrique de la duplication du cube
- 1797: A Léonard Snetlage, docteur en droite de l'Université de Goettingue, Jacques Casanova, docteur en droite de l'Université de Padou
- 1798(posthumous): Histoire de ma vie
These are largely scientific
and mathematical treatises
, and plays, as well as autobiographical
bits. "Jsocameron"(Isocameron) is a Swift
ian sci-fi novel. He also had published a great number of letters, articles and pamphlets.
R.I.P. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova (byname Jean-Jacques Chevalier de Seingalt), 1725-1798. A lover and an adventurer and a man of great learning. Your life reads like a Harlequin romance.
Sources: http://www.dickinson.edu/~emery/Casanova.htm, http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/casanova.htm. See there.