Friday, 7 October 2005

The Salacious Life of Casanova


Casanova - not the most handsome guy in the world...

Giacomo Casanova (1725-98) was more than just a man of the world. His manipulative charm enabled him to get round almost anyone. He even convinced the Pope to give him a dispensation to read pornographic books, which were forbidden by the Church. He managed to move around the highest aristocratic circles. Due to his extravagant lifestyle he was often in debt, and running away from angry creditors. He developed quite a reputation for seducing the ladies and so in 1755, at the age of 30, he was arrested by the Venetian Inquisition, charged with contempt for religion and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Of course, being Casanova, he could not stand for this and escaped from prison, and went on to travel throughout Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, England, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Russia and Asia Minor, having numerous affairs on the way.

Casanova was said to know how to manipulate women's minds as well as their bodies. He would make sure he had captivated them psychologicaly, before moving on to the physical part of the affair. Although his 'love' was passionate it was short-lived and ended once he had sated his desire fully, at which point he would move on to another woman. I reckon nowadays he would be known as a cad.

Casanova's sex life was in no need of spicing up, as one can see from his memoirs too. He generally preferred one to one sex with women, had a penchant for anal sex and sometimes liked to have two women in bed simultaneously. He also liked going to orgies. Homosexual wasn't really his thing but he did have some such encounters. One of these was in Turkey with the then Turkish foreign minister, another was fondling the penis of the impotent Duke Maddaloni and the most important was an encounter with a Lieutenant Lutin in St. Petersburg, who apparently looked like a woman. In Casanova's own words: "...he took hold of me and, believing that he found he pleased me, put himself in a position to make both of us happy."

9 comments:

Mister Hand said...

Interesting. I had no idea he'd run in to the Venetian Inquisition. Was this a relatively short-lived institution? I was under the impression that only the Spanish Inquisition retained its teeth over a decent period of time.

Meatbag said...

Nobody expects the Venetian Inquisition! Okay, I'll stop that now. Interesting and informative as always, Alterior.

Alterior said...

Thanks guys. :-)

There never was a single monolithic office of ‘The Inquisition’ except in later legend. Instead, in the Middle Ages there were independent inquisitors who travelled around giving their support to local tribunals and occasionally acting independently. Later particular circumstances caused inquisition tribunals to be set up in Spain, Portugal, Venice, Rome, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Most of these were independent except for nominal control by the papacy. The way these local tribunals were run was culture specific and depended on their political support and the strength of competing sources of judicial control.

(Sources: page 439, Kelly; page 122, Edward Peters Inquisition California University Press, 1989)

Meatbag said...

I hate to once again lower the tone, but there's just nothing hotter than a girl who provides cites in her blog comments.

Alterior said...

;-)

Poet said...

Very interesting. Do you know how he escaped from the Venetian Inquisition?

Asa_Nisi_Masa said...

With all due respect, your piece on Casanova is a touch simplistic and misleading. It espouses the popular belief that the legendary Venetian was little more than a caddish womaniser when in actual fact, reading his Memoirs (I'll confess I only just started an abridged version of them a few day ago), you realise he was far more multi-facetted and even contradictory than that. As a friend of mine said once while we were discussing his ahead-of-its-time Jules Verne-like novel Icosameron, Casanova and his very large ego wished for immortality and fame, but not notoriety. I believe there is a big difference between the two. My guess is he probably spins in his grave every time some generic dumb womaniser is referred to as "a Casanova". For your own entertainment, as his ral life is indeed far more entertaining than any Hollywood over-simplification of it, I would advise you to acquaint yourselves better with this fascinating figure, not as easy to pin-point as first meets the eye. We are far too conditioned by trite portrayals of Casanova and a collective imagination that apparently, isn't familiar with the saying "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

On a more frivolous note, as for Casanova not having been a handsome fellow, I have little doubt he would have appealed to modern sensibilities, but on the other hand I think he looks radically different in every portrait of him I've seen. He looks horrid in the one you posted, and actually OK in this one (lipstick and mascara aside): http://www.chocolate.org/misc/giacomo-casanova.html. Anyway, a few tid-bits for Casanova beginners, just for starters:

Casanova is no two-dimensional cad, it says so here, too!:
http://billbeuttler.com/work29.htm

Wikipedia, of course: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Casanova

Everything that Casanova has ever written or published (how did the guy find the time besides everything else that he got up to?!): http://users.dickinson.edu/~emery/works.htm

Some rather nice illustrations based upon his Memoirs, by one Auguste Leroux: http://www.cubra.nl/casanova/index.htm

Asa_Nisi_Masa said...

Er... can I edit my post? I meant that I doubt Casanova would have appealed to modern sensibilities, not the other way round. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

I read the his memoirs over twenty years ago and loved them. The one thing that stuck with me was the following: He often recounts drinking hot chocolate for breakfast. Then, by the end, he is complaining about his teeth having fallen out! LOL. Do you think those two things might be related? haha.