Casanova is one of those characters who looms large in cultural history even though most people are not really familiar with the detail . He is “that dude who wrote about all the women he banged” . It’s quite inexplicable that I’d be in the game nine years and read books from many Modern Casanova writers without ever going back to the original, especially as his epic memoir series is, to quote some guy on the back cover of my edition, “rightly called the most interesting memoirs ever written. Indeed, Rousseau, Stendhal, even Augustine, must take their proper place, a half step behind this greatest of storytellers.”
A few years ago my mate from Wales said he’d read all twelve volumes and recommended I do the same. That seemed a bit much so I tracked down the Folio Society abridged edition which contained just five select chapters. It was a bit shit.
I checked online and found out there have been several translations. The first heavily edited and messed with the manuscript and then later translations were bowdlerised to remove all the juicy bits. Finally in 1961, Willard R. Trask produced the definitive translation from the original French manuscript, without censors. It was released in six double-volumes, of which the Folio Society version was a small taster.
Based on that version I assumed it was all flowery bullshit and ignored it. Then this year, as my own memoir passed the four-volume mark, I got curious again. As solipsistic as ever, I wondered how does my memoir stack up against old Casanova’s? It turns out that one of my volumes is approximately as long as two of his. If I was to write six of mine, I’d get 160+ lays compared to his 132 . Given that what I’d read of his memoir was shite, I figured I could do better 
So I bought the first of the double volumes and started reading. I just finished the first half – i.e. the first volume of twelve – and……. well, I’m rather impressed. It was really good. Far better than the abridged version lead me to believe. So good that I’m gonna have to really raise my writing game if I want to beat it.
The biggest surprise is that in the 328 pages I read, he only describes three sexual conquests. The vast majority of the book has nothing to do with chasing skirt. It begins with his earliest memory of being sent off to a ratty boarding house in Padua as a young boy, then his mentor raising him for life as a churchman in Venice, and then his teenage years being sent hither and thither as his travelling actress mother arranged different guardians to look after him. By the time this volume ends, when he’s about twenty, this is some of what has happened:
- Imprisoned in a fortress in a squabble over debts, where he befriends the governor.
- Sneaks out of said fortress after establishing an alibi then coshes his enemy and dumps him in a canal. He gets away with the attempted murder.
- Walks between Italian cities with a roguish travelling priest. One night they are jumped by two horny MILFs and their uncle and beat them possibly to death with a cane.
- Accepts a bishop’s position in a poverty-stricken country seat and almost immediately bails on it to find a better one in Rome.
- Becomes mates with the Pope and a senior Cardinal.
- Run out of Rome for harbouring a female fugitive, his French teacher, who was caught trying to elope with a nobleman’s son.
- Witnessed an exorcism of his guardian’s daughter.
That’s what I liked most about this volume, that Casanova takes care to tell a well-rounded story covering highlights in his life in all themes. The whole time it progresses naturally and I felt I was getting to know his character and what events shaped it.
As to the birds?
Perhaps some of my readers are more familiar with 1740s Italian culture than myself. His stories all seem rather far-fetched. If readers from the year 2300 were to read a memoir written by RVF’s notorious fantasist G-Manifesto, they’d probably have a similar reaction to mine in reading Casanova’s sexual conquests. These are some of what he describes:
- He loses his virginity in a threesome to two sisters when aged 15. He’d known them a month or so because they were in the same embroidery club as a girl he was chasing. Through chasing her, they became interested in him. In a late-night assignation between all three girls, the target leaves and Casanova sleeps between the two sisters in the same bed. He touches up the first sister and bangs her while she pretends to be asleep, then touches up the second and repeats the feat. They then have threesomes.
- He next bangs a girl he met in a horse-drawn carriage with her husband. They travel together a while and he contrives to share a carriage with just the woman, which then gets diverted from the others in a storm. He forcefully tries to fuck her and when she says no, he threatens that if she keeps making a noise in fighting him off the horseman will notice and assume she’d put out anyway. So she says ok.
- He had another threesome. I forget the details but he’s banging on girl on the regular and her virginal sister disapproves. He bangs the regular in the same bed and the other one gets so turned on he fucks her too.
So, four of his five first notches came in threesomes. Okay……
There’s also a scene where he’s locked up in quarantine in a first floor apartment with a balcony overlooking a courtyard. A middle-eastern merchant has the ground floor quarantine quarters where he’s accompanied by a pretty Greek girl who sits at the window reading. Casanova drops a letter to her that says words to the effect of “I just noticed you and think you look quite nice. Come meet me under my balcony at midnight”.
So she does. The next evening he pulls up the floorboards (his guard seems not to notice) and feels her tits. She manages to get her torso through the whole but not enough he can fuck her. It all seems a bit, well, like a tall story. Like those PUA stories of opening massive mixed sets, fighting off AMOGs, bouncing five venues, and…. blah blah.
Anyway, I’m forming some opinions on Casanova’s character that I’ll test over the next volume. For now, I’ll discipline myself to take what he says at face value so that I can better enjoy the book. It might just be that 1740s Italy really were so libertine. I’m very much interested to read volume two because I’m enjoying his style and the stories really are interesting.
If you’ve like to see a six double-volume modern casanova memoir then be sure to buy Younger Hotter Tighter when I release it later this summer.
 Like Batman, or Godzilla, or Tarzan
 It must be weird to live in a time when there was only one such guy.
 I haven’t counted them myself, I just vaguely remembering hearing that number.
 Regular readers are quite familiar with my hubris.