"A sheer testament to the power of the written word." (The New York Times)
Giacomo Casanova's energy was dazzling. He made and lost fortunes, founded state lotteries, and wrote forty-two books and 3,600 pages of memoirs recording the tastes and smells of the years before the French Revolution-as well as his affairs and sexual encounters with dozens of women and a handful of men.
Historian Ian Kelly draws on previously unpublished documents from the Venetian Inquisition, and documents by Casanova and his friends and lovers, which give new insights into his life and world. Kelly's research spans eighteenth-century Venice, Paris, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Rome, Prague, and the Czech castle where Casanova lived, wrote, and died.
From his devotion to kabbalah to his collaboration with Mozart and librettist Da Ponte on the opera Don Giovanni, from his vast appetite for food and sex to his training for the priesthood, Casanova reveled in the commedia dell'arte. And, as Kelly posits, it is from Casanova's careful study of its artifice and illusion that his success as both a libertine and a libertarian was founded.