Casanova in Bohemia
Free Press, 2002
Casanova in Boemia
Translated into Romanian by Ioana Avadani
Editura Polirom, Bucharest, Romania 2005
An erotic, comedic, and compulsively readable historical novel depicting the beguiling Giacomo Casanova as he looks back on a life of love and ribald adventure
In Count Waldstein’s far-flung Bohemian castle, an aging Casanova spends his days as a librarian cataloging the count’s extensive collection of books. Or at least that’s what he’s supposed to be doing. Ever the storyteller, Casanova instead dedicates himself to his own writing, for which the young servant Laura Brock serves as an endlessly fascinated audience. He recounts to her his greatest escapades—from romances in a Venetian convent to the seduction of an entire harem to the triumphant amassing (and subsequent loss) of a fortune in Paris. Enlivened by the French Revolution and the liberating ideas of the Enlightenment, Casanova’s latest exploits prove he still possesses an intellectual vigor and insatiable curiosity. Even old age can’t keep this legendary libertine—who corresponded with Voltaire, discussed flight with Benjamin Franklin, and whose life and writings inspired artists as diverse as Mozart, Flaubert, Stendhal, and Hesse—from causing trouble.
Rich with eighteenth-century European social, political, and religious history, Casanova in Bohemia is an energetic and erotic portrait of Western literature’s most beloved lothario, whose hedonism was matched by his creativity and wit.
“Codrescu presents Casanova as representative of an old world order that is slipping away, as the ideas that gave rise to the American and French revolutions are radically changing the political, social, and cultural landscape of Europe. Very entertaining and well written.” - Jim Coan, Library Journal
“Taking full advantage of the factual eccentricities of his subject, Codrescu succeeds in probing the depths and details of the fictional Casanova. The reader feels as if he or she had a close, almost intimate, relationship with the elderly roué. Codrescu’s imagination is astounding.” - Brigitte Weeks, The Washington Post
“Codrescu’s Casanova has charm to burn, and so does this book. Maybe his earlier historical novel, ‘The Blood Countess,’ a gory fantasia based on the life of Elizabeth Bathory, sated Codrescu’s appetite for the Sadean impulse and sent him spinning into a real appreciation of Casanova’s friendlier brand of hedonism and his appealing mixture of earthiness and learned hauteur. The results, like the man himself, are seductive.” - Phil Nugent, The New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Consider it the bastard child of Anne Rice’s erotica and Umberto Eco’s philosophical meta-fiction. High-flying but somehow unpretentious prose, intellectual fireworks, and more steamy couplings than a shelf’s worth of romance novels: altogether, a potent doze of high-literary eroticism.” - Kirkus Reviews
“What a great read – truly love the way it is both a novel and an essay, sort of post-modernly Enlightenment style… We could sure use some of the more sensate siggestions of those lumières right now.” - Anselm Hollo, author of Sojourner Microcosms
“Above all, Codrescu reminds us of the pleasures of reading, of the power of esthetics. Reading is not about moralizing, of staking ethical claims, but rather, Codrescu is saying, it is about engaging language with sensual delight." - Christian Reigel, The Cimarron Review
“Like the best historical novels, Casanova in Bohemia is a novel for our times and our issues… an erudite and convincing work… Readers – or radio listeners—familiar with Codrescu will find in this book the delicious iconoclastic humor and the penchant for the strange and the picaresque that are part and parcel of Codrescu’s literary personality. Codrescu restores Casanova more than he reinvents him, and in doing so with love, he smashes many bourgeois puritanical notions.” - C.W. Cannon, The American Book Review