For Further Reading

guiseppe bison figures with venetian masks

Tomorrow we say farewell to Casanova, and hello to the Wife, but we are so fond of that dirty trickster that we wanted to finish the issue with a list of Further Reading.

The Memoirs Themselves
We are quite fond of the Arthur Machen translation, and we especially like that it is available in full online, but as you might expect, its audience was not quite ready for the full Casanova. Even as dirty as it is, things were euphemized and skipped. The newer, Willard Trask translation, is a marvel. Beautiful and filthy, nuanced and dignified, just like its original writer.

The White People and Other Weird Stories by Arthur Machen
Casanova’s English translator Arthur Machen was into some weird shit. But then so was Casanova, being a Freemason and a magician and into some dark arts. Where Casanova was playful, however, Machen was brutal. His stories of the supernatural realms breaking into our own have a strange power to them. Start with The Great God Pan (available via Gutenberg) and then go into the White People.

The Librettist of Venice by Rodney Bolt
Casanova may have helped Mozart to write the opera Don Giovanni — I mean it is about a serial seducer who descends down to Hell, it is Casanova’s life story even if he didn’t write it himself — but the librettist was Da Ponte. Who, after writing the libretto to the opera Kierkegaard called the greatest work of art ever conceived, ended up in Brooklyn, running a grocery. His life story is as amazing as Casanova’s, and Bolt tells it well.

Wings of the Dove by Henry James and Rendezvous in Venice by Philippe Beaussant
The extreme beauty and poetic nature of Venice (Casanova’s only true love) has inspired a fucking lot of really bad novels and art. You cannot simply set your story down in the city without much of a plan, the city overwhelms and overpowers. There are only a few stories told in the city that matched their inspiration — and Henry James’s tale of sex and money and despair, and Beaussant’s story of beauty and love and pleasure are two of them. Bonus mention: the Katharine Hepburn spinster-awakening movie Summertime.

Image: Giuseppe Bison’s Figures with Venetian Masks