The Search for Hope

"A lockdown with imposed restrictions. For some this is a paralyzing situation, for others it is being given space to create. In the last thirteen years of his life, Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) also found himself in restrictive circumstances: the money of the famous womanizer had run out and his lust for adventure was over. In 1785 he was forced to take on a position as librarian with Count Joseph Waldstein in Duchcov (Dux), present-day Czech Republic. One of his creations during that period was the writing of his memoirs: Histoire de ma vie. His life story is today seen as the most authentic source of European social life in the 18th century."

This is a Google translation of the opening paragraph by Rudolf Hunnik as he begins his exploration into the identity of “Mr. D.O.,” the wealthy widowed banker that Casanova visited in Amsterdam. Hunnik writes in Dutch, a language I don’t speak, so I relied on Google to translate it for me. I learned that Hunnik explored a number of avenues to try to discern Mr. D.O.’s identity, writing to scholars and museum staff, searching the internet, and of course re-reading the memoirs and other writings by Casanova. Hunnik’s search didn’t unearth a definitive answer, but he shares very compelling evidence that the true Mr. D.O. was probably Thomas Hope. This blog is not the place to share a full translation; I hope Mr. Hunnik might offer this article to the journal Casanoviana for publication.

Here is the full article from the site Reporters Online. And here is Hunnik’s second paragraph, to provide a bit more context for the beginning of his search:

When I saw the empty streets of Amsterdam on television during corona time, I thought of Casanova. He had also been to Amsterdam. For the umpteenth time I read the part of his memoirs when he visited Holland. What historians are sure of is that Casanova stayed in Holland from mid-October 1758 to January 1759, and again a year later from October 1759 to February 1760. His main preoccupation was business dealings and his infatuation with a girl named Esther. She was fourteen years old and the only child of a widower and banker, Mr. D.O. that Casanova mentioned. Who this high-ranking man really is, there is no conclusive proof of that. It gave me the idea and the impetus to write this article: Who really was Mr. D.O.?

And who was Esther? Hunnik explores this as well.

Copy of visitation visit Casanova La Bien Aimée, November 30, 1759 (photo Jac. Diepenbrock)

Hunnik’s article contains a number of images. I’m sharing this one that shows Casanova as a visitor to a Freemason lodge in 1759.

After I initially posted this, Rudolf Hunnick had the article translated into English. You can access it here.

About seductivevenice

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