Conversations with Casanova

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

Thanks to Watkins Publishing and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is the third in the series of these books I have read after the Oscar Wilde and JFK instalments. As with the others, the introductory information was the most interesting to me. I knew a little about Casanova (thank you tour guide at the Doge's Palace) but not so much about his life after the escape. 

The book follows the same format as the others, an imagined interview with Casanova. I don't know enough about Casanova's character to make a judgement on how well this was achieved but it was a fun read.

Where these books really excel is as an introduction to a historical figure you may be less familiar with. They are short and the format is fun and unique so I can see them making nice little gifts to those who are interested in history and biographies.
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Having previously reviewed one of the others in this series (on JFK), a criticism I had was that someone with a large breadth of knowledge of the subject would feel the book was less of an experience and more of a re-hashing. Though my knowledge of JFK is good, Casanova is a new departure for me and so this jumped off the page with a stronger sense of integrity. For sure, this series of books is suited to those who are new to the subjects at hand as lack of prior knowledge brings some additional life to the interviews and biographical information. Really enjoyed the foreword here too.
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Casanova is such a fascinating person in history. We even use his name now when describing (usually a man) who is good with women, so this was such a delight to read. Wonderfully put together by Parker.
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This was a very unique way to educate and entertain the reader!  I enjoyed the conversational element of this book.  Very well-written!
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Conversations with Casanova by Derek Parker is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early June.

Casanova as a philosophically charming and candid man, in addition to being a great lover and seducer. This book begins with a loose-laced, casual biography where he becomes versed in the art of sex at age 15, traveling throughout Europe (though mostly in Italy) as kind of journeyman detective and occultist for hire, then a scholar, librarian, and memoirist towards the end of his life. The later conversation of this book's title is a Q&A-format imagined conversation that fills in gaps of his biography, gives light to momentary situations and trysts, his implied position of occultist pared down to just being crafty or lucky, seemingly always being flush with money or in debt, travels into Russia and Constantinople, his friendship with Voltaire, displeasure with the food and social hypocrisy of London, affair with famed prostitute and thief La Charpillon, his children, and lengthy autobiography.
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A nice mix of history and fiction. You do get some biography of Casanova and then you get the interview/conversation with him. Do get a look at him that is not like a textbook but sitting at a coffeeshop with him. Do get the information in a new way.
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Short but tantalising up-close-and-personal with one of history's most intriguing figures.

There are biographies of almost any historical person you can imagine. The usual form would be a chronological look at their lives, from birth to death, with a look at their influence on their own world and that of future generations.

This biography takes a different and rather novel approach. As well as a look at Casanova's life in the traditional way, the author 'interviews' his subject, asking questions to an imagined interviewee about his life and loves, giving him a voice and bringing the biographical details more vividly to mind (one example - the use of condoms surprised me).

With a passionate introduction from Dita Von Teese that sets out the tone of the book (that Casanova was much more than just a talented lover), the book succeeds in opening up his life and character, making him more than a description. Casanova did not merely sleep with many women, he "claimed that he sincerely fell in love with every woman he had ever known, even if it were just for one night." He is shown as more human, more likeable. More honourable. It was good to see the attitude that "the idea of rape nauseated him. He liked to be sure that his partners enjoyed themselves." He even talks about his experiences (mostly polite one) with homosexuality.

The world of his time is also expanded upon, the travels he undertook for a living taking him around Europe and the author notes the differences between cities, their cultures and attitudes.

And in the answering of his interviewer's questions, it did feel as though the man of the biography really was just continuing the story, and with a lot of genuine honesty: "there's certainly a sense in which I have been all my life, a highly successful parasite." This follows on well from what has been described, and the reader will not fail to agree to some degree.

The format was a striking one, and made the details much easier to take in, with the kind of questions you might yourself want to ask of the man. There were also further biographical sources at the end for those interested.

All I knew of Casanova before this came from the BBC/David Tennant miniseries, and it was good to recall names from that being discussed here. Both were sympathetic and gave a full account of a full and most enthralling life.

With thanks to Netgalley for the sample reading copy.
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Fascinating read, one you can pick up and read a little bit at a time and come back to, I love books like this. Intelligent, interesting and entertaining 

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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What a fascinating idea. I was delighted to be chosen to receive a copy of this and whizzed through it. Particularly enjoyed his reflections on Paris and England.
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