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The Story of My Life (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 7 Feb 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (7 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140439153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140439151
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) was born in Venice, the son of actors who wanted him to become a priest. Instead he had numerous occupations, and is remembered as one of history's great lovers.

Stephen Satarelli is a poet and translator of Italian and French literary works.

Sophie Hawes is an artist, printmaker, and translator.

Gilberto Pizzamiglio is Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Venice.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I begin by informing my reader that for everything good or bad that I have done throughout my life, I am certain I have always earned due approbation or reproof, and must therefore consider myself a free man. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Casanova provides his readers with a twelve-page preface, which he wrote "because I want you to know me before you read me. Only in coffee-houses and inns do we converse with strangers." Giacomo would like to be more than a stranger to his readership and with these expurgated memoirs - I write of the Penguin edition - he more than succeeds. "I expect friendship, esteem and gratitude from my readers."

But who was Casanova? We all know his reputation, but what many people are not aware of are his great literary and intellectual interests. Often described as the world's first pure celebrity, he has reason to be remembered in a large number of areas of cultural pursuit. But more than anything, these memoirs demonstrate Casanova's sheer humanity: he is so full of contradictions.

They commence with his first memory, aged eight, and the strange events that attended a bleeding nose. But whilst he may have seemed a late developer in some respects, he demonstrated precocity at an early age. At eleven, he is already responding wittily in Latin to the lewd query of a visiting Englishman. In his late teens, and already a priest, he is cavorting with a number of women from both the underclass and the aristocracy, including a suspected castrato and girls aged eleven and twelve. But throughout the descriptions of his love-making he consistently claims that, "The sight of the pleasure I gave always made up four-fifths of my own."

In whatever scrapes he instigated, Casanova often employs clever wit or innocent humour to extricate himself. And despite the sympathy that his writing imbues in the reader, his is not by any means a wholesome character.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Caterina VINE VOICE on 14 Jun 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is so full of life I half expect to find it dancing around on my bookshelf. And it has so many merits that it is difficult to know where to start: essentially it is an account of a vanished period in time, and of different places, and a man who squeezed five times as much into his life as any normal human being. If only half the stories in it are a quarter true - well, the mind boggles: nuns, secret assignations, midnight gardens, transvestites. Quite apart from the astonishing adventures, it's a moving and sad account with a strong underpinning of philosophy. And in its way it's a morality story: sleeping with lots of women (and some men) really doesn't necessarily lead to happiness. If you haven't tried Casanova before this lively edition is a good place to start: you may well want to move onto the Willard Trask epic once you've finished this, but it would be a bit much to bite off at the beginning.
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Format: Paperback
I will start out by saying that this is one of my all time favourite books and I love meeting people whom have also read it. To me it's like being part of the club. I suspect my fondness for this book is born of the fact that I read it when I was nineteen/twenty and some of the exploits unswervingly painted within these pages where of great appeal. If I was to read it now (seven years later) I'm sure I would not find the book as appealing and I would possibly be disgusted at some of the antics that where so shamelessly broadcast by the author.

However that being told this book is not all sexual debauchery and subversiveness of the law. This book is completely and utterly inspiring. To think that one man had a life so full and so rich, could be so charming yet so ruthless so humble yet so arrogant and so rich yet so poor reminds us of the magic in life and the special characters that provide every life with its unique tapestry.

To say much more than this would be to reveal the content of the memoirs but I feel this book opened my eyes to all of the possibilities in life with the 'can do' attitude it radiates.

There are parts of this book that are slow - a few chapters in particular I remember being difficult to read. In any other story they may have been thrilling but in the context of this book they where rather yawnish, however the reader is always rewarded with the next shocking, unbelievable or down right ridiculous instalment of this utterly great yet extremely flawed human being.
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