Ian Kelly's revelatory history of the world's greatest lover was chosen as the Sunday Times Biography of the Year.
Giacomo Casanova was one of the most beguiling and controversial individuals of his or any age. Braggart or perfect lover? Conman or genius? He made and lost fortunes, founded state lotteries, wrote forty-two books and 3,600 pages of memoirs recording the tastes and smells of the years before the French Revolution - as well, of course, as his affairs and sexual encounters with dozens of women and a handful of men. His energy was dazzling.
Historian Ian Kelly draws on previously unpublished documents from the Venetian Inquisition, by Casanova, his friends and lovers, which give new insights into his life and world. His research spans eighteenth-century Europe.
This is the story of a man, but also of the book he wrote about himself. His own memoirs have brought him two centuries of notoriety. They have also changed forever the way we think and write about ourselves - and about sex. At the same time that revolutions - scientific, industrial, political and artistic - remade the world in the eighteenth century, Casanova created an intimate and exhaustive study of what he saw as the most revolutionary article of all - himself.
The world, and the way we look at ourselves in it, would never be the same again.
A bedazzling jewel of sophisticated pleasures, the best book yet on the world's greatest lover. - Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard Magazine
enthralling . . . It is hard to conceive of a juicier, more informative account of social and sexual mores of 18th century Europe. - Daily Mail
exhilarating . . . he has managed to make this story feel so fresh again. - Guardian
'The thing is to dazzle,' wrote Casanova. In this enthralling book he dazzles once again, and so, too, does his biographer. - Mail on Sunday
Elegant and scrupulously researched, with an admirable feeling for the age - Spectator
sober, thoughtful and affectionate new biography - Financial Times
Magisterial, utterly gripping . . . a vivid evocation of Georgian London. - Philip Hoare, Independent
In Ian Kelly [Casanova] has at last found his Boswell . . . a great blast of a book, packed with energy and information, marinated in sympathy and understanding, and rippling with enthusiasm right down to the final footnote. - Sunday Telegraph
Ian Kelly is an actor, screenwriter and journalist, writing for The Times, Telegraph, Observer and TLS. His film credits include Howard's End, Attenborough's In Love and War and Dennis Potter's Cold Lazarus. He's currently starring in The Pitmen Painters at the National Theatre, and is filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.