HISTORY OF MY LIFE by Giacomo Casanova


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Prudence in the pursuit of pleasure is an Epicurean adage, but Casanova, popularly considered the supreme representative of a hedonist philosophy, surely never took his lessons seriously. The picture becomes more incongruous, if not down right hilarious, when recalling another motto of Epicurus: ""Sexual intercourse has never done a man good and he is lucky if it has not harmed him."" No, Casanova, the incarnation of 18th century libertinism, was an indifferent pupil, quite fortunately for us. This second installment of the first integral edition of his Memoirs, comprising volumes III and IV, is an altogether delightful book, clearly more exhilarating and venturesome than its predecessor, tossed off at a buoyant clip, yet remarkably revealing in characterization, atmosphere, and narrative energy, culminating in what may well be the chef d'oeuvre of all prison break yarns, Casanova's intricate escape from the Doge's Palace in Venice. Part untoward gypsy, part natural aristocrat, Casanova's personality is perfectly mated to his adventures: a truly amiable rake, dallying in ever widening circles of corruption, copulations, and chance misfortunes, with a fine descriptive eye (Paris is ardently drawn) and a telling knack at portraiture (Henriette, especially).

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1967
ISBN: 0307265579
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World