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Casanova: Actor Lover Priest Spy

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"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... This description may be from another edition of this product.

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Casanova: Actor Lover Priest Spy

Like most people, when I hear the name Casanova, I think of sex. Ian Kelly offers a more rounded view of a fascinating man who has come to be defined by a single facet of his complex life. Casanova's autobiography, "The History of My Life", offers more than the story of one man's life. It allows us a unique glimpse into the life of people from all walks of life during the eighteenth century. He mingled with prostitutes and kings, actors and bishops, a Tsarina and famous courtesans, nobility and tradesmen. He wrote about all of them, detailing their lives and loves, their triumphs and travails. He seemed to be in perpetual motion, travelling throughout Europe and into Russia, never living anywhere for more than two years. Even his mode of travel was unique. He used public transportation rather than the private coaches used by most travelers of the day. He hitchhiked and even sailed on slave-galleys. He wrote about it all, a veritable treasure trove of information for historians. He details the inns, apartments, castles and prisons where he stayed or was forced to stay. He loved food, leaving a record of hundreds of meals, many of which featured dishes that are mentioned nowhere else and would have been lost to history if not for Casanova's writings. As for his supposedly insatiable sexual appetite, Mr. Kelly rightly points out that his sex life was normal for men who had no fixed address, constantly moving around. More than a few of his contemporaries recorded more numerous encounters than Casanova. Just like modern times, he contracted sexually transmitted diseases over and over. In fact, syphilis may have caused his death. He was apparently bisexual, enjoying encounters with the occasional man, both singly and as part of group sex. Perhaps the most shocking act he committed was the possible incest with one of his daughters leading to the birth of a son that may or may not have been his. This is an extremely well written book that brings to life both a man and his times. I found it to be totally engrossing for the details it provided of Europe and Russia during the eighteenth century.

An Amazing Life

Most of us only know the prurient myth of Casanova, many know Casanova only by his memoirs. The memoirs are valuable for their insight into 18th century society and culture and mores (and oh my, the food!), but there is always the suspicion of at least some exaggeration. Ian Kelly's tome provides a fuller picture of the real Casanova and gives us some remarkable insight into the truly amazing life of Casanova and his very real accomplishments. Casanova was a extraordinarily complex and well traveled man, especially given the times and given the very real danger and hardship brought on by travel in the 18th century. Casanova, born into a theatrical family, was also a diplomat, spy, intellectual, mathematician, and most surprisingly, a man of the cloth. One can only marvel at Casanova's sophistication and erudition on many of the great matters of his time. For all his deserved reputation as a womanizer, Casanova seemed to truly love women and in many ways would be considered sophisticated, even today (and admittedly, Casanova had a few episodes that were beyond the pale then as well as now). His responsibility for the children he fathered far less so. However, the women he bedded were not merely conquests. He took an interest in their lives and maintained long-standing friendships with many, as well as being the source of many acts of kindness and generosity throughout his life. In the end, Casanova understood how his life undermined and ultimately coarsened his soul (no doubt heightened by syphilis). That self awareness may have made his last years as a writer and librarian at Dux, the dreary castle in Bohemia, mostly tragic, but does not diminish the truly remarkable life that Casanova lived.

The Epitome Of Enlightenment

Everyone knows that calling a male a "Casanova" means that he's a profligate womanizer who is charming and arrogant in equal proportions. But few know much about the original Casanova, or realize that while he was as arrogantly charming as any of his namesakes he was also an intellectual, an actor, a priest(!), and a politician who epitomized the age in which he lived and flourished. Giacomo Casanova was born in Venice in 1725. He came from a family of actors and was raised in one of the most dissolute but fascinating cities in Europe. Casanova trained for the priesthood, receiving an excellent education and displaying formidable intellectual gifts. His sexual life began early and continued unabated, making a Church career difficult (but not impossible). His ability to learn new things quickly and present himself self-confidently charmed high society in Italy, France, England, Russia, Poland, Spain, and many other places. His sexual prowess enabled him to sleep his way across Europe and gain introductions to rulers like Louis XV, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, and several Popes. He made fortunes and lost fortunes partly through charm but also through his intellect: working out new calendars, tutoring, developing lottery systems, and many other schemes. Despite his wideranging sexual activities which led to several bouts of gonorrhea and syphilis, Casanova lived to be 73, spending his final years in retirement in a Bohemian castle, writing his memoirs and as charming as ever. Ian Kelly's life of Casanova is fascinating. It is set up in five acts with several intermezzos, an appropriate structure for describing so theatrical a life. There's quite a bit of humor, most of it necessarily bawdy, and even more pathos, particularly in his final years. This biography is not just one man's life, but also a history in miniature of Europe during the 1700s, when the Enlightenment led to new ideas and a reexamination of old beliefs. It was a perfect time for a man like Casanova to live. You'll enjoy reading about his life and times almost as much as Casanova enjoyed them himself.

much greater than the myth

This biography strips away the legend of "the world's greatest lover" to provide readers with an in depth look at a person who turns out to have been an eighteenth century Renaissance Man. With a Prelude, Introduction, Curtain Call, and five distinct acts that break the life of Giacomo Casanova into eras, the audience learns that he was a businessman, diplomat, spy, philosopher, author and translator. Ian Kelly points out the great lover wondered Europe and met the famous, the almost famous and the bizarre. Biography fans will relish this insightful look that brings much more to the dining table than just the legendary lover. Mr. Kelly brings alive the Age of Reason, the eras of no reason, and the absurd of Europe from Voltaire's France to the Russia of Catherine the Great to Casanova's hometown of Venice and his education town of Padua, amongst others. This is an excellent bio as Casanova proves to be much greater than the myth. Harriet Klausner

More Than the Great Lover

If your name is famous or infamous enough, or if it fills some sort of lexical need, it can get used as a term of description on its own. We have been hearing a lot lately about people who are supposed Mavericks, for instance. If you call someone a Benedict Arnold, everyone will know you are paying no compliment. For centuries, lotharios have been called Casanovas, meaning a libertine who has made plenty of sexual conquests. It is only part of the picture Casanova himself gives in his massive twelve-volume autobiography, and most readers (like, admittedly, your present reviewer) have contented themselves with looking for the naughty bits and ignoring the rest. This leaves the stage open for a biographer to take the massive work, decide what can be chipped away to make for a full but accessible life story, and examine confirmatory contemporary texts to inform the reader of context. This is just what Ian Kelly has done in _Casanova: Actor Lover Priest Spy_ (Tarcher / Penguin). Kelly includes "lover" in that subtitle, but he does not include plenty of other categories in which the multi-talented Casanova excelled and which are included in this exciting biography: violinist, soldier, alchemist, cabalist, con-man, prisoner, fugitive, traveler, and the list goes on. Casanova was not always admirable, but he was always enthusiastic, and was a model for living life bravely, if excessively. He thus makes a fascinating subject, and a theatrical one in both senses of the word. Kelly is himself an actor, and successfully concentrates on the theatricality of Casanova's life. Indeed, his book is divided into operatic acts and scenes rather than chapters, with intermezzi between the acts to explain details about the eighteenth century versions of travel or sex habits. The theatricality starts right at the beginning; Casanova was born in 1725 to an actress in Venice, a city literally of masks, for citizens were required to wear them from October into Ash Wednesday. All his life, if he was not himself on the stage, he was hanging out with actors, making love to actresses, or traveling with a troupe. He made his money starting up lotteries, or taking fees for his occult work within the cabala, but he was always better at spending it. There has always been a question of how much he padded his memoir and how much was sexual braggadocio, but Kelly finds corroborations for many of the episodes, including some that have previously been deemed questionable. It is likely that any errors in the memoir are due to simple and excusable lapses of memory more than to deliberate exaggeration. There would have been little need to exaggerate, anyway. What he describes in his memoir is guilt-free enjoyment, and the stories of pleasure resonate for us more than routine porn from the time for a couple of reasons. Casanova knew of men who got pleasure from inflicting pain on their partners, but this disgusted him; he had no interest in this sort of kink, or in being o

Casanova: Actor, Spy, Lover, Priest Mentions in Our Blog

Casanova: Actor, Spy, Lover, Priest in 7 Super Spies
7 Super Spies
Published by Hugo Munday • November 02, 2015

The latest in the James Bond movie franchise is released this month and I'll go. It's not a book by Ian Fleming, most of the ideals of the movie are outdated and corny, but out of allegiance to my childhood, I'll go.

This week you can use the code ASTON at Thrift Books to get a 15% discount on books in the Spy Stories and Tales of Intrigue genre, so that got me digging up a lot that wasn't related to James Bond. Much of it would make, or even has made, block-buster movie scripts and so it follows that we have some good books too. Starting with the interesting and working up to mind-blowing...

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