2013 is the year of le morte de l’Intermédiaire des Casanovistes. Ah, that sounds too grim. But in early December I received the final issue of this journal for Casanova scholars and enthusiasts and felt sad that it’s the end of this era. It has been published for 30 years to promote the continued study of Casanova’s life and works. The editors have decided for various reasons that this is the end.
At the front of this issue is a farewell message in French, Italian, and English. The editors wonderfully summarize what they have gained from a life’s study of Casanova: “Our work has given us the privilege to meet and frequent a surprising number of persons from the most diverse backgrounds, to share with them our passion and our curiosity, to benefit from their invaluable collaboration and to establish long-standing bonds of friendship which enrich our lives and memories.” I will personally attest to the truth of this statement, for when I began my study of Casanova, this community reached out to me, sharing its wealth of knowledge with generosity and grace. I have had the good fortune to meet a number of these scholars in person, and I couldn’t hope for a more wonderful group of people. I hope that the end of l’Intermediare will not mean the end of these collaborations and conversations.
A couple phrases here aptly summarize many scholars’ outlook towards Casanova, who can be a rather controversial figure. The editors write that “the wealth of his life’s work made us easily overlook his various frauds and his often insolent and immoral conduct.” Yes, Casanova could be a cad, and some of his facts don’t add up quite right. Some of his actions, particularly if viewed by today’s standards, are at best questionable. But for me, this is one thing that makes Casanova so fascinating to study. Trying to figure out this man is worth the effort. As the editors add, Casanova is “an outstanding author who succeeded in transforming a basic grid of innumerable lived and proven events into a great literary oeuvre, a fascinating blend of truth and fiction.”
Editor Tom Vitelli wrote a retrospective piece to review the life of l’Intermediaire and Casanova scholarship. He names past scholars and their accomplishments, traces the past as well as shifting approaches to research, and lists topics that l’Intermediaire has covered, including gondolas in Casanova’s era (Thanks, Tom!), which was my contribution last year. As Vitelli mentions, attitudes have changed, as has scholarly attitude, including “the possibility that Casanova may have invented some stories in pursuit of his literary agenda.”
As Vitelli points out, we owe a great debt to Helmut Watzlawick and Furio Luccichenti who have kept l’Intermédiaire des Casanovistes running for 30 years. He also pays homage to Marco Leeflang, who transcribed and organized 9,000 pages of documents. Thank you for your contributions and for welcoming me into this arena of study!
What does the future hold? Will someone take the reins of this publication? Will it become an online forum rather than a print publication? Will 2025 bring us all together for the 300th anniversary of Casanova’s birth? Let’s hope others will step forward to carry on this work.