A Complicated Relationship with Venice


Mirrors, like nostalgia, cause us to reflect in more ways than one

Like the relationship between many lovers, Casanova’s association with his birth city was complicated. In his theatricality, in his pleasures, in his secret ways, Casanova was a genuine Venetian. Yet the close-knit community, where gossip traveled swiftly and eyes peered from every window, caused Casanova consternation on more than one occasion. He had to flee the city more than once, more than twice, yet yearned passionately to return.

For the Casanova in Place Symposium in Venice this June 28-30, presenters Jean-Christophe Igalens and Mladen Kozul will explore Casanova’s complicated relationship with his heart-home. Kozul reveals the delights of the casin (also known by some as a casino or small pleasure apartment) kept by Cardinal de Bernis, where Casanova spent many pleasurable hours. Yet life in Venice was not always so joyous for Casanova. Igalens explores that nostalgia and yearning that C felt and the challenges it produced for him.

Here are the abstracts of their papers. I hope you’ll join us in Venice to hear the presentations. (Igalens will present in French, while Kozul will present in English.)

Jean-Christophe Igalens:  “Evoking the time when he wanted more than anything to return to Venice, Casanova regrets having given in to “nostalgia”: “I might not have died if I had despised it, and I would not have lost nine years in the ungrateful womb of my stepmother” (Casanova, Histoire de ma vie, ed. Jean-Christophe Igalens and Erik Leborgne, Paris, “Bouquins”, 2013-2018, t. III, p. 1082). The writer often has a controversial relationship with Venice, whose literary forms and challenges will be studied.”


Cards were often a pastime in the casin

Mladen Kozul:  “This paper focuses on the casin of Cardinal de Bernis, French ambassador to the Venetian Republic, which exemplifies one of the narrative commonplaces of the early modern libertine tradition. In Bernis’ casin, Casanova has romantic encounters with M.M, a Venetian nun and Bernis’ friend. Presented simultaneously as a place of aristocratic sociability, erotic theatricality, and transgression, the casin falls within the framework of similar places in many novels and historical writings of his time, but it also shows the particularities of Casanova’s writings, worldview, and his cultural and literary references.” 


This display from Ca’ Goldoni shows a typical card game of the 18th century.

“Specialist of French literature of the eighteenth century, Jean-Christophe Igalens is the author of Casanova: The Writer in his Fiction (Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2011) and the publisher, in collaboration with Erik Leborgne, of the History of My Life of Casanova (Robert Laffont, coll. “Bouquins”, Paris, 2013-2018).”
“Mladen Kozul is Associate Professor of French at the University of Montana. He taught at the Sorbonne, at Institut des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), at Scripps, and at UCLA. His recent research focuses on the culture, literature, and philosophy of the French Enlightenment. His publications include five books, among them one on the translation and the radical Enlightenment, on the history of the body, and on the legitimacy of fiction in early modern France. He divides his time between Paris and Missoula, MT.”

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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