I’m a day late posting this, but yesterday, June 4, was the anniversary of Casanova’s death. 214 years ago he breathed his last.
C was living at Castle Dux, in then Bohemia, now Duchcov, not far from Prague. He worked as the librarian for Count Waldstein, nephew to the Prince de Ligne, whom C had met some years before. The Prince had many fabulous things to say about C, including, “He would be a good-looking man if he were not ugly.” C’s days at Dux were often miserable: he complained about the pasta, the rude servants, the lack of good company (for the Count was often away). His main happiness came from his fox terrier Melampyge (which, coincidentally, is the name of the cat that was the only creature killed when the Venice Campanile came crashing down in 1902).
But at least C had a roof over his head and a place to write. It was at this time he wrote his 12 volume memoirs, The History of My Life, which his doctor had suggested as a way to stave off boredom and depression. Thank you, dear doctor, for these memoirs are an staggering gift for historians of the 18th century as well as a wildly entertaining read.
The exact location of C’s grave is now lost to us. Marco Leeflang has visited Dux and learned that graves were moved when the grounds were renovated. There’s a priceless legend that an old metal cross grave marker used to catch upon women’s skirts and must have been the gravesite. You can see images of this place in the docudrama Casanova’s Love Letters.