Giovanni Casanova
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

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From Casanova’s memoirs:

 "The Ideal Lover is rare in the modern world, for the role takes effort. You will have to focus intensely on the other person, fathom what she is missing, what he is disappointed by. People will often reveal this in subtle ways: through a gesture, tone of voice, a look in the eye. By seeming to be what they lack, you will fit their ideal.

To create this effect requires patience and attention to detail. Most people are so wrapped up in their own desires, so impatient, they are incapable of the Ideal Lover role. Let that be a source of infinite opportunity. Be an oasis in the desert of the self-absorbed; few can resist the temptation of following a person who seems so attuned to their desires, to bringing to life their fantasies. And as with Casanova, your reputation as one who gives such pleasure will precede you and make your seductions that much easier.

The cultivation of the pleasures of the senses was ever my principal aim in life. Knowing that I was personally calculated to please the fair sex, I always strove to make myself agreeable to it."  -

The woman who shewing little succeeds in making a man want to see more, has accomplished three-fourths of the task of making him fall in love with her; for is love anything else than a kind of curiosity? I think not; and what makes me certain is that when the curiosity is satisfied the love disappears. Love, however, is the strongest kind of curiosity in existence …

There is nothing, there can be nothing, dearer to a thinking being than life; yet the voluptuous men, those who try to enjoy it in the best manner, are the men who practise with the greatest perfection the difficult art of shortening life, of driving it fast. They do not mean to make it shorter, for they would like to perpetuate it in the midst of pleasure, but they wish enjoyment to render its course insensible; and they are right.

 his account of his early character

Let us now come to the dawn of my existence in the character of a thinking being. The organ of memory began to develop itself in me at the beginning of August, 1733. I had at that time reached the age of eight years and four months. Of what may have happened to me before that period I have not the faintest recollection.

This is the circumstance. I was standing in the corner of a room bending towards the wall, supporting my head, and my eyes fixed upon a stream of blood flowing from my nose to the ground. My grandmother, Marzia, whose pet I was, came to me, bathed my face with cold water, and, unknown to everyone in the house, took me with her in a gondola to a thickly-populated island … we enter a wretched hole, where we find an old woman sitting on a rickety bed, holding a black cat in her arms … the witch having received a silver ducat from my grandmother, opened a box, took me in her arms, placed me in the box and locked me in it, telling me not to be frightened—a piece of advice which would certainly have had the contrary effect, if I had had any wits about me, but I was stupefied. I kept myself quiet in a corner of the box, holding a handkerchief to my nose because it was still bleeding, and otherwise very indifferent to the uproar going on outside. I could hear in turn, laughter, weeping, singing, screams, shrieks, and knocking against the box, but for all that I cared nought. At last I am taken out of the box; the blood stops flowing.

The wonderful old witch, after lavishing caresses upon me, takes off my clothes, lays me on the bed, burns some drugs, gathers the smoke in a sheet which she wraps around me, pronounces incantations … she informed me that a beautiful lady would pay me a visit during the following night, and that she would make me happy, on condition that I should have sufficient control over myself never to mention to anyone my having received such a visit. Upon this we left and returned home.

I fell asleep almost as soon as I was in bed, without giving a thought to the beautiful visitor I was to receive; but, waking up a few hours afterwards, I saw, or fancied I saw, coming down the chimney, a dazzling woman, with immense hoops, splendidly attired, and wearing on her head a crown set with precious stones, which seemed to me sparkling with fire. With slow steps, but with a majestic and sweet countenance, she came forward and sat on my bed; then taking several small boxes from her pocket, she emptied their contents over my head, softly whispering a few words, and after giving utterance to a long speech, not a single word of which I understood, she kissed me and disappeared the same way she had come. I soon went again to sleep.

The next morning, my grandmother came to dress me, and the moment she was near my bed, she cautioned me to be silent, threatening me with death if I dared to say anything respecting my night’s adventures. This command, laid upon me by the only woman who had complete authority over me, and whose orders I was accustomed to obey blindly, caused me to remember the vision, and to store it, with the seal of secrecy, in the inmost corner of my dawning memory. … I continued to have bleeding at the nose, but less from day to day, and my memory slowly developed itself. I learned to read in less than a month. … 

Many things become real which, at first, had no existence but in our imagination, and, as a natural consequence, many facts which have been attributed to Faith may not always have been miraculous, although they are true miracles for those who lend to Faith a boundless power.

According to the Prince de Ligne, his last words are: "I have lived as a philosopher, and die as a Christian."

Just of note regarding St. Germaine:

The most enjoyable dinner I had was with Madame de Gergi, who came with the famous adventurer, known by the name of the Count de St. Germain. This individual, instead of eating, talked from the beginning of the meal to the end, and I followed his example in one respect as I did not eat, but listened to him with the greatest attention. It may safely be said that as a conversationalist he was unequalled. … This extraordinary man, intended by nature to be the king of impostors and quacks, would say in an easy, assured manner that he was three hundred years old, that he knew the secret of the Universal Medicine, that he possessed a mastery over nature, that he could melt diamonds, professing himself capable of forming, out of ten or twelve small diamonds, one large one of the finest water without any loss of weight. All this, he said, was a mere trifle to him. Notwithstanding his boastings, his bare-faced lies, and his manifold eccentricities, I cannot say I thought him offensive. In spite of my knowledge of what he was and in spite of my own feelings, I thought him an astonishing man as he was always astonishing me. … St. Germain often dined with the best society in the capital, but he never ate anything, saying that he was kept alive by mysterious food known only to himself. One soon got used to his eccentricities, but not to his wonderful flow of words which made him the soul of whatever company he was in.


Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) was born in Venice, Italy. While his reputation covers a range of pursuits, the name Casanova, or Don Juan, is synonomous with Seducer – he’s the most notorious lover the Western world has known. His seduction method was simple: on meeting a woman, he would study her, go along with her moods, find out what was missing in her life, and provide it. He made himself the Ideal Lover. In each case he adapted himself to the woman's ideals, brought her fantasy to life.

The date of his birth given in his memories is April 2, 1725. He has used several names, referred to as Jacques, Juan, and changing it in later life to Chevalier De Seingalt. He was the son of actors, who were often on tour and raised mainly by his grandmother. He may have been quite a sickly child, himself describing the first years of his life as a nearly vegetative state that lasted until the age of eight. In 1733, however, his chronic nosebleeds are cured, allegedly by magic. His father dies this same year.  

His parents had wished him to be a priest, but as a youth he was characterised as a precocious ecclesiastic and eventually expelled from school for scandalous conduct. In 1741 he attempts a career in the church, but it, like most of his vocational pursuits, did not develop as planned. The majority of his life was filled with travel, carousing, imprisonment and thrilling escapes, encounters with major literary figures and world leaders. And, of course, amorous conquests among the fairer sex, from noblewomen to cobblers' daughters to nuns! All apparently willing partners. 

His less well-known occupations included musician (violinist), diplomat, state spy, gambler. He introduced the idea of a state lottery and became known for his financial saavy, overall he did enjoy associations in high society, including Mozart and Catherine the Great. He was also considered to be a magician, poet, translator, philosopher, general bon vivant, self-made gentleman, and first rate storyteller. Casanova did a range of writing, from opera librettos, the 'History of the Government of Venice', a translation of Homer's 'Iliad', and one of the earliest science fiction works, 'Icosameron', published in 1788, about a voyage to the center of the Earth. Most of his literary fame however, rests upon his autobio­graphy, 'The Story of My Life', which was not published during his lifetime.

Casanova claims to be a freemason, initiated in the latter part of 1750, and tells of meeting prom­inent Freemasons in various countries, additionally asserting several cardinals were secretly masons as well. He mentions the Count de St. Germain in his memoirs. In 1755 he was arrested on charges of sorcery. He seemed to have some knowledge of medicine, and used his familiaritity with the cabala and other esoteric knowledge to enthrall others, even to the extent of what has been termed a 7-year con game of engaging in magical rites for ‘regenerations’ to fulfill one woman’s desire to become a man. In mid 1763 his life takes further downturns of disappointments in love and money, and Casanova dates the decline of his life from this time.

On 15 November, 1774, he returns to Venice and ceases his wanderings for nearly ten years, when some indiscretions in his work as a spy forced him to leave Venice again in disgrace, on 17 January, 1783.  In February, 1784, a fellow Freemason offers Casanova a position as librarian at his castle in what is now the Czech Republic. While his duties as librarian are easy and he has time to write, he feels isolated, misunderstood and persecuted.  

By January 1792, Casanova is seriously depressed, yet determines to write his memoirs. He never finishes his autobiography, which ends with his exploits to 1774 and his return to Venice. He eventually took ill with a urinary tract infection in April of 1798, and dies at Dux on 4 June, 1798. 




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