Casanova’s Worthy Subject

A page from Casanova's original manuscript, The Story of My Life, now on display at the Bibliotheque Nationale.

I would just love to see Casanova’s handwritten memoirs, “The Story of My Life,” now being shown at the Biblioteque Nationale in France, where more than 3700 pages of his papers are kept. “Worthy or not,” he wrote, “my life is my subject, and my subject is my life.”

Of course, his life did make a rich subject. In Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, Casanova professes his love for Truffles, which often offered the great lover a means of seduction, as when he wooed two young “nymphs” at once. “At nine o’clock I began,” he wrote in his memoirs, “and as I had neither a knife nor a corkscew I was obliged to break the neck of the bottle with a brick which I was fortunately able to detach from the mouldering floor. The wine was a delicious old Neuchatel, and the fowl was stuffed with truffles, and I felt convinced that my two nymphs must have some rudimentary ideas on the subject of stimulants.”

Things were proceeding nicely.  “At last ten o’clock struck, and I heard the pastor’s voice as he came downstairs talking,” Casanova reported, “he warned the girls not to play any tricks together and to go to sleep quietly.”