Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? No doubt you have heard of Casanova, the famous womanizer, and maybe you've seen the movie, or read the account of his life. But did you know he may have had a gay brother? Benedetto, a few years Giacomo's junior, was pressed into service of the Church, to follow the famous lover of women through the courts of Europe.
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By Marten Weber. But did you know he may have had a gay brother? On the way he had amorous adventures with countless men, but, unlike his brother, fell in love and kept alive a romantic relationship with a strapping German soldier over time and distance. They were written in Italian and have never before been published in English. Marten Weber delivers a wonderful 'translation' of this challenging text, full of linguistic cunning and his usual talent for breathtaking eroticism. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. The reasons for this shall be made evident in this brief introduction. The original manuscript was discovered by accident in , tumbling from an old bookshelf in the villa of a certain Roberto Avia on the outskirts of Rome.
Rummaging through the old library, Oscar fell from a ladder, seizing in the process the drapes which caught the spine of the aforementioned volume. The fact that it was a Voltaire in which the manuscript was hidden is not of inconsiderable irony, as the reader will discover in the course of perusing this tome.
For all we know, the manuscript has never been printed or published, yet we find in 19th century literature quite a few allusions to the work and the person of Benedetto Casanova. Since no other version is extant, we may conclude that the sole route of transmission led through this very manuscript, glued to the pages in the volume of Voltaire, to disguise its true nature maybe, or, more likely, because the younger Casanova was simply unable or unwilling to find a publisher for his unusual and unorthodox, not to mention highly erotic account.
The often voiced assertion that he may have gathered such details from oral account is hard to disprove, yet he often quotes passages of the memoirs, if not verbatim, then close enough to warrant the conclusion that he has indeed seen the original text.
We have a few more data points pertinent to the history of the manuscript. Clearly, the two erstwhile travelers often invited young men to their house, and Benedetto must have read excerpts of his memoirs to them, perhaps right after they were written around So, the question begs asking, what happened to the memoirs after they were written?
Were they copied at all? Why, if Benedetto was prepared to share his work within a circle of young men in Rome, did he not have it typeset and printed for wider distribution? To answer these questions, it is necessary to bear in mind the content of the manuscripts. These are not mere travel reports and adventure stories, or diaries concerned with the indiscretions of the rich and famous, which even Casanova the elder did not commit to paper until the very end, when he was safely out of reach of the authorities.
They contain much bolder accounts and statements, whose very nature, had they become public, would have landed the author and presumably his publisher in jail or committed to an even worse fate. Two of the most egregious facts are that the younger Casanova preferred men, and that he was a proud atheist—either one would have meant the end of his scholarly career, his freedom, or his time on earth, in particular if we consider that the book was written in Rome and right under the nose of the Pope, a great ecclesiastical and temporal power of the age.
If not his predilection for his own sex, his outspoken atheism surely would have landed him in enough trouble. How could the adventures of a gay Italian student of philosophy, who had no qualms about confessing that he thought all religion to be superstitious nonsense , have possibly been published?
It is unthinkable. Sharing his reminiscences with a circle of friends already shows a great deal of courage and healthy disrespect for the authorities of the time, foremost of all the Holy Father at his doorstep. The memoirs of his older brother Giacomo, as we will learn to address him throughout this volume, are of course familiar to many of the more adventurous and daring readers. Apart from their entertainment value, his Histoire de ma vie has deservedly attracted a fair amount of serious scholarship as a source of information about court etiquette and the life of nobility in the 18th century.
We know a great deal about Giacomo Casanova from his own hand, in the descriptions of his childhood contained in the memoirs. The first two chapters of the memoirs have not survived the sands of time, so we can only guess at the circumstances of his birth. There is no evidence in any church or hospital, and the records of his Alma Mater in Bologna would have been destroyed, if they still existed at that time, in the great fires of If we believe this to be true, and there is no reason not to, then Benedetto could have been born either in late , during the year or possibly in Both lived in Paris in the years before Rousseau wrote his Social Contract , and Benedetto started his memoirs just when in Austria—which he still knew as a police state where the Church had undue influence—Joseph II came to power and instituted the most far-reaching reforms of any ruler in Europe.
At first glance, the two brothers could not have been more different. Benedetto, who by popular belief should have been the more promiscuous of the two, fell in love almost immediately after leaving his homeland, and managed to keep that flame alight over almost a decade of separation, several thousand miles of travel, and the carnal knowledge of not a small number of men.
The old Giacomo Casanova looks back on his life and discovers a number of stages in his development. Benedetto was a much calmer person, prone to long spells of depression from an early age, and never quite the animated, boisterous character his older sibling was. At best, he was a thoughtful and courageous intellectual, overwhelmed by the impossibility of living freely in this world as an atheist, and as a homosexual. He suffered too because for many years, and despite his many sexual partners, he was very lonely—a testimony to his great love for one man who fought a cruel war whilst Benedetto waited for him in Paris.
The fate of the less fortunate, from gay men executed for their love, to the persecuted English and the murder of a German art historian presumably for similar motives, may have aggravated his depression. Despite being a womanizer and living, for all intents and purposes, quite contrary to what society believed to be its current norm, Giacomo Casanova rarely showed the wit and perspicacity, or even the inclination of a revolutionary.
He violated those norms without remorse or guilt and never once intellectually questioned them. On the contrary, they were the very framework, the corset, if you allow the pun, from which he derived his true pleasure in life.
Quite the opposite, his gay brother Benedetto did nothing but put into question the morality of his fellow men and women. He berated them, cursed them, at the same time sheltering under his libertine wings those who, like him, could and would not fit in. With all those differences in character accounted for, what amazes most is that in the course of all their years chasing across Europe, and despite all the obvious divergences in temperament, morality, faith and most strikingly, sexual predilection, towards the end of the journey, Benedetto comes to recognize a strange kinship after Giacomo attacks the philosopher Voltaire for trying to change human nature.
Humbled by the experience, he writes:. To accept man as he is, and not proscribe, ordain, form by force or call of reason, that was just what I envisaged. Were my brother and I so alike? What else did we, both, in our lives, but give in to our instincts, let them roam, concern ourselves not with what may be, or what might have been, and not what should be, by some self-imposed moral authority, but simply take delight in what is?
To see and behold, and marvel and love, and not pester our fellow men incessantly for their shortcomings. Once more then I recognized that sense of kinship with my sibling, felt him, the seducer and corrupter of countless women, closer to my heart and way of thinking than the greatest living philosopher on earth. Who of us can look back on last year and remember every word spoken, not to mention half a century ago? Benedetto too at times seems to recall not events a decade past, but the passion of last night, yet his recollections appear a lot more truthful.
Throughout the book, the author does not hide the fact that certain things have escaped his memory. When he does not recall an event exactly, he gives a cursory remark only. Which brings us to the biggest and most obvious difference between the siblings.
Not only was he homosexual, he was a proud gay man, at the beginning even a proud—although he would have objected to that epithet— passive gay man! He understood that he was different, and that being so did not subtract from his humanity or worth.
On the contrary, he was convinced that love for men did make him a better thinker, maybe even a better human being. If that reeks of the gay chauvinism that often permeates the political discourse of our own time, it may serve as a stark and startling reminder and call to reason.
In all these aspects, plus the rights and protection of vulnerable elements of society, in particular women, Benedetto Casanova was a trailblazer, an innovator.
Although the Enlightenment itself took another fifty years to gain a true foothold in Europe, Benedetto Casanova must be regarded as enlightened long before the basic tenets of the movement were even put into writing, before a Voltaire was widely read, a Kant understood, and a Benjamin Franklin returned home to put his mark on the—back then, and only for a short time—freest and most liberal of nations.
Finally, that the account of his peregrinations, his numerous adventures with men, and his philosophy of freedom can now be published at last, in a climate of comparative tolerance at least in the Western world, is truly astonishing. For one, it is amazing how free our society has become in its acceptance of alternative lifestyles. Young gay lovers sit in my classroom today holding hands, and kissing each other in the aisles during the breaks.
Only a few years ago, such scenes were unthinkable in conservative, Catholic Italy! On the other hand, it is also quite remarkable how long it has taken for the world to accept the fact that two men, or two women, can be as in love with each other as two persons of the opposite sex.
Gays are still treated in the most abominable manner in conservative societies of today—and you do not have to look as far as Iran or the Arab world for corroboration. Even in the West there exist pockets of irrational, allegedly god-fearing, but utterly despicable self-righteousness that demand or condone the ostracizing, imprisoning, torturing and killing of men and women for their sexual orientation.
This is not the first translation of the Benedetto Casanova memoirs, but it is the first complete attempt, in the sense that it encompasses all the material of the extant manuscript.
Quite fortunately, apart from the missing two chapters at the beginning of the text, few other pages are lost to us. The positions of these have been clearly marked. Where however the manuscript contains an undecipherable word, or blot of ink, has been torn or in other ways rendered illegible, an educated guess has been made as to the correct meaning, and the text completed in accordance with the surrounding passage.
In the interest of fluency, with a few exceptions only, such instances have not been specifically marked in this edition. Jonathan Wise and others for their generous assistance in this task. If the language of my translation varies between a somewhat more archaic and a more contemporary style, this is primarily because I have tried to give credit to the first translator of the work, Sir Geoffrey Balsteep, who in , five years after the Italian manuscript had been discovered, attempted a first rendering for an English public.
Where the result of this combined effort is wanting in elegance, this is alone my fault. However earnestly Balsteep applied himself to the task, he had chosen a text whose publication would have been impossible in the climate of the time. He personally felt that he did not have the constitution or the ability to complete the work. In he wrote to his friend Oscar Wilde:.
God help me, I do not think I can accomplish what I have set out to do! The text includes so very many passages which are so direct and unrestrained, so openly descriptive of the love between men, that I find myself aroused, disturbed, unable to continue until my urges have been satisfied. That accomplished, I am overcome by the fear of discovery at every turn of the page.
Benedetto has instilled in me a sense of guilt, and I fear I must leave the completion to a better man than me, and perhaps, a much later epoch than now. Never in the history of mankind, except perhaps ancient Greece, has homosexual love been spoken of so freely as now.
Never before has it been possible to render in such clarity, and publish without the fear of retribution, such an openly sensual work. The second reason why the style of my translation may vary between chapters is due to the constitution of the original itself. It has been suggested that the third and parts of the penultimate chapter in particular were each written immediately after the events, and precede the remainder of the memoirs.
Such analysis is mostly based on differences in style and choice of words. One may also assume that the recollection of his time in French-speaking parts of the world may have invoked in the polyglot Benedetto the desire to emulate the more florid cadences of the French tongue spoken there, whereas his time in Bologna and Rome, surrounded often by soldiers and laborers, may have given rise to a desire to employ a simpler, more conventional form of expression.
I have tried, however inexpertly, to give credit to both in my translation. Sometimes the writer gets so carried away with the recollection of his exploits that there are clear breaks in the timeline, confusion of names, of certain characteristics of personages etc.
Where these were obvious, I have corrected them without giving the reader warning of any alterations, hopefully hiding them behind a veil of acceptable English prose. Likewise, although writing in his native Italian, Benedetto often confuses words, makes use of convoluted and at times erroneous sentence structure, and mixes his Venetian Italian with the Bolognese, Roman or Tuscan variety, and even includes Latin, Greek, German and French words in his lexicon. I have left some of these instances untranslated, in particular where the emphasis given thereby adds to the character or expressiveness of the text.
Benedetto Casanova: The Memoirs
Benedetto Casanova - The Memoirs
While readers of gay fiction may be familiar with author Marten Weber due to his best-selling novel Benedetto Casanova: The Memoirs, over the years he has crafted many a tale, with each set in unique and varied places and times. He graciously took the time to answer some questions as to his work, writing process, and issues with which the LGBT community grapples. With tales as disparate as Benedetto Casanova a fictionalized memoir set in Italy , The Almost Unbelievably Curious Case of Jeremiah Hudgejaw: America's First Gay Wedding set at the beginning of the last century , Shayno a tale of mid-life crisis set in Silicon Valley , as well as your new title, Bodensee sci-fi , it seems you're intent on covering every place and genre under the sun! What guides your decision of what to write next? I think most genres in modern literature have become very stale and narrow.