Monday, May 18, 2009
Volume 2 of Casanova's memoirs ends with his flight from Venice to escape a blasphemy charge. At a party somebody punked him by sawing a plank bridge over a mud moat; when our hero leads a line of sexy women on a nature hike he ends up with a ruined suit and wig. Casanova's revenge is to cut the arm off a fresh corpse and use it in a dreadful prank which makes its victim permanently bat-shit. If this doesn't intrigue you, don't read his History of My Life. If it does, you shan't regret reading these witty, bizarre, and thoroughly entertaining books.
By volume II a pattern emerges: following a disaster of his own making, Casanova must escape to a new town where his natural intelligence, keen wit, and noble bearing quickly get him into society and earn him a wealthy benefactor. Then he either gambles himself to ruin, steals the virtue of the wrong virgin, seduces the wrong noblewoman, or wounds the wrong man in a duel, precipitating the next astounding adventure. When I was 23 I was going to grad school and working one full and two part-time jobs. Casanova had lived several full lives by that time.