I had hoped to add an Amazon widget to my blog and website in order to share my favorite Casanova or Venice books with readers, but alas, WordPress doesn’t support the Amazon widget. So instead, I thought I’d start an occasional series of book reviews.
Casanova’s Women by Judith Summers chronicles Casanova’s encounters with over 15 of the women he loved–starting with maternal love for his mostly absent mother Zanetta. The Venetian lovers are included here: the Savorgnan sisters, with whom he lost his virginity; Teresa Imer, who bore Casanova a daughter; a number of young women from the Veneto; and of course the cloistered women, M.M. and C.C.
After numerous biographies about this famous man and his exploits, it’s refreshing to read about the women and give them more substance and reality outside Casanova’s words in his memoirs. For example, Summers paints Zanetta as an actress in her own light, rather than just as Casanova’s mother, and readers can begin to see her for the individual talent that she was. Moreover, all of Casanova’s biographers are male, so Summers brings a new perspective on Casanova’s exploits, including a female commentary on the infamous “Carnevale debauch” at the Alle Spade where he and his friends “pleasured” a wife.
Summers has also written a full biography of Teresa Imer, titled The Empress of Pleasure, which I mentioned in a previous blog. Her research has uncovered new information, and her careful reading questions facts we’ve believed for many years.
Side note: The cover painting of Casanova’s Women, Manon Balletti by Jean-Marc Nattier, was included in the Casanova exhibit last winter at Paris’ French National Library. What a thrill to see it in person!