Adventurer: The Life and Times of Giacomo Casanova (Hardcover)

Adventurer: The Life and Times of Giacomo Casanova By Leo Damrosch Cover Image

Adventurer: The Life and Times of Giacomo Casanova (Hardcover)

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A fast-paced narrative about the world-famous libertine Giacomo Casanova, from celebrated biographer Leo Damrosch
 
“Fully succeeds in communicating that ‘vivid presentness,’ that ‘joyful eagerness’ for life, which is what keeps us reading Casanova—and reading about him.”—Gregory Dowling, Wall Street Journal
 
“A nuanced, deftly contextualized biography of an adventurer, an opportunist, and a man of voracious appetites . . . another top-notch work from Damrosch.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
The life of the iconic libertine Giacomo Casanova (1725–1798) has never been told in the depth it deserves. An alluring representative of the Enlightenment’s shadowy underside, Casanova was an aspiring priest, an army officer, a fortune teller, a con man, a magus, a violinist, a mathematician, a Masonic master, an entrepreneur, a diplomat, a gambler, a spy—and the first to tell his own story. In his vivid autobiography Histoire de Ma Vie, he recorded at least a hundred and twenty love affairs, as well as dramatic sagas of duels, swindles, arrests, and escapes. He knew kings and an empress, Catherine the Great, and most of the famous writers of the time, including Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin.
 
Drawing on seldom used materials, including the original French and Italian primary sources, and probing deeply into the psychology, self-conceptions, and self-deceptions of one of the world’s most famous con men and seducers, Leo Damrosch offers a gripping, mature, and devastating account of an Enlightenment man, freed from the bounds of moral convictions.
Leo Damrosch is the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature Emeritus at Harvard University. His many books include The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age and Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, winner of the National Book Critics Circle award and Pulitzer finalist for biography. He lives in Newton, MA.
Product Details ISBN: 9780300248289
ISBN-10: 0300248288
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: May 24th, 2022
Pages: 432
Language: English
“The great virtue of Mr. Damrosch’s biography is that, while never losing critical distance, he fully succeeds in communicating that ‘vivid presentness,’ that ‘joyful eagerness’ for life, which is what keeps us reading Casanova—and reading about him.”—Gregory Dowling, Wall Street Journal

“Damrosch’s biography is undoubtedly a huge achievement, at once erudite and vivid. By the end I was almost convinced that Casanova was worthy of such prodigious scholarship.”—John Carey, Sunday Times

“[A] stern, but measured book . . . In his stylish, insightful and, yes, one must admit, sexy biography, Damrosch gives us the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.”—Laura Freeman, The Times

“Colourful and entertaining. . . . The author is clear-eyed about Casanova’s faults.”—The Economist

“There have been many biographies of Casanova before, some of them very good, although they have tended to be thesis driven . . . [Damrosch] is in turn clear that he is writing a post MeToo Casanova. At the same time, he is also keen that we should understand just what a valuable document Histoire is for scholars working on the 18th century.”—Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian

“Over the years [Damrosch] has earned a reputation not for being a popularizer, exactly, but for writing serious, well-researched books that also appeal to a general audience, and Adventurer, handsomely illustrated with photographs and reproductions, is no exception. It’s careful without being fussy, learned without being ponderous. Like Casanova himself, Damrosch knows how to tell a good story. Unlike Casanova, he also knows when enough is enough.”—Charles McGrath, Hudson Review

“A nuanced, deftly contextualized biography of an adventurer, an opportunist, and a man of voracious appetites . . . another top-notch work from Damrosch.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An eye-opening and well-informed study of an ‘extraordinary character’ in all his darkness and brilliance.”—Publishers Weekly

“Damrosch’s biography condenses a vast trove of Casanoviana into a well-researched, four-hundred-page narrative that is most engaging on its subject’s catholic interests as an intellectual and on the milieus he traversed as an itinerant charlatan.”—Judith Thurman, New Yorker

“Beautifully conceived and shaped. . . . A page-turning account that penetrates the character of a most exceptional human being who was both a product of his age and an astute observer of its mores.”—Arthur Holye, New York Journal of Books

“Leo Damrosch is a professor emeritus of literature with an emphasis on the 18th century. And he reads Casanova post-Weinstein, so to speak—but not sourly or dogmatically, instead confidently, inspired, admiringly and at the same time critically, passionately. And he can write brilliantly too.”—Jean-Martin Büttner, Basler Zeitung (Basel, Switzerland) 

“Casanova’s life was in the best of hands with Leo Damrosch’s erudition. He follows Casanova’s escapades and escapes as a vertiginous heroic story. Out of Venice we are thrown into an experiment with the eighteenth century, its tastes, and transgressions, revealing a surprising ‘book of life.’”—Pierre Saint-Amand, author of Suite libertine: Vies du XVIIIe siècle

“A pleasure to read, remarkably clear and readable, engaging, vivid, informative—in short, an excellent biography that both delights and instructs.”—April Alliston, Princeton University

“The name Casanova has become synonymous with serial seduction—hardly a model in the age of #MeToo. The excellence of Leo Damrosch’s energetic biography is that it reveals so many other dimensions of this remarkable man: pioneering autobiographer, questioner of received ideas, traveler through high culture and low.”—Jonathan Bate, author of Radical Wordsworth: The Poet Who Changed the World