The name of Giacomo Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt (1725-98), is now synonymous with amorous exploits, and there are plenty of these, vividly narrated, in his memoirs. But Casanova was not just an energetic lover. In his time he was a diplomat, businessman, trainee priest, traveler, prisoner, magician, confidence man, gambler, professional entertainer, and charlatan. He financed business projects, organized lotteries, wrote opera libretti, and dabbled in high politics. Above all he was an autobiographer of enduring brilliance and subtlety who left behind him what is probably the most remarkable confession ever written.
Casanova explored to the full all the possibilities eighteenth-century Venice offered by way of love and profit before being imprisoned, escaping from jail, and fleeing from the city to begin travels that took him across Europe. In Moscow and London, Berlin and Constantinople, he met the famous men and women of his time—Catherine the Great, Voltaire, Louis XV, Rousseau—and recorded his encounters for the memoirs he wrote in retirement at the end of his life.
History of My Life is by turns touching, thrilling, wonderfully comic, and quite irresistible. The present edition, which includes approximately one third of Casanova’s enormous (and unfinished) book, contains all his major adventures and all his greatest affairs of the heart.