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Giacomo Casanova

Date de naissance: 2. avril 1725
Date de décès: 4. juin 1798
Autres noms:Giovanni Giacomo Casanova,Giacomo Girolamo Casanova

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Giacomo Girolamo Casanova , né le 2 avril 1725 à Venise et mort le 4 juin 1798 à Dux , est un aventurier vénitien. Il est tour à tour violoniste, écrivain, magicien , espion, diplomate, puis bibliothécaire, mais revendique toujours sa qualité de « Vénitien ».

Il utilise de nombreux pseudonymes, le plus fréquent étant le chevalier de Seingalt ; il publie en français sous le nom de « Jacques Casanova de Seingalt ».

Casanova laisse une œuvre littéraire abondante, notamment ses mémoires connus sous le titre Histoire de ma vie. Il est cependant surtout connu aujourd'hui en tant qu'aventurier, et surtout comme l'homme qui fit de son nom un synonyme de « séduction ». Il savait user aussi bien de charme que de perfidie pour conquérir les femmes. Cette réputation provient d'une œuvre autobiographique, Histoire de ma vie, rédigée en français et considérée comme l'une des sources les plus authentiques concernant les coutumes et l'étiquette en usage en Europe au XVIIIe siècle. Il y mentionne cent quarante-deux femmes avec lesquelles il aurait eu des relations sexuelles, dont des filles à peine pubères et sa propre fille, alors mariée à l'un de ses « frères » francs-maçons, avec laquelle il aurait eu le seul fils dont il eût connaissance.

Bien qu'il soit souvent associé à Don Juan comme séducteur, sa vie ne procédait pas de la même philosophie : ce n'était pas un collectionneur. Parfois présenté comme un pantin ou un fornicateur mécanique, qui se détourne de sa conquête dès lors qu'elle s’est donnée à lui, il s'attachait, il secourait éventuellement. Personnage historique et non de légende, jouisseur et exubérant, il vécut en homme libre de pensée et d'action, des premiers succès de sa jeunesse à sa longue déchéance. Il est le frère du peintre Francesco Casanova.

« L'homme ne peut jouir de ce qu’il sait qu’autant qu’il peut le communiquer à quelqu'un. »

— L’Icosaméron

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Citations Giacomo Casanova

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„You will be amused when you see that I have more than once deceived without the slightest qualm of conscience, both knaves and fools.“

— Giacomo Casanova
Context: In spite of a good foundation of sound morals, the natural offspring of the Divine principles which had been early rooted in my heart, I have been throughout my life the victim of my senses; I have found delight in losing the right path, I have constantly lived in the midst of error, with no consolation but the consciousness of my being mistaken. Therefore, dear reader, I trust that, far from attaching to my history the character of impudent boasting, you will find in my Memoirs only the characteristic proper to a general confession, and that my narratory style will be the manner neither of a repenting sinner, nor of a man ashamed to acknowledge his frolics. They are the follies inherent to youth; I make sport of them, and, if you are kind, you will not yourself refuse them a good-natured smile. You will be amused when you see that I have more than once deceived without the slightest qualm of conscience, both knaves and fools. As to the deceit perpetrated upon women, let it pass, for, when love is in the way, men and women as a general rule dupe each other. But on the score of fools it is a very different matter. I always feel the greatest bliss when I recollect those I have caught in my snares, for they generally are insolent, and so self-conceited that they challenge wit. We avenge intellect when we dupe a fool, and it is a victory not to be despised for a fool is covered with steel and it is often very hard to find his vulnerable part. In fact, to gull a fool seems to me an exploit worthy of a witty man. I have felt in my very blood, ever since I was born, a most unconquerable hatred towards the whole tribe of fools, and it arises from the fact that I feel myself a blockhead whenever I am in their company. I am very far from placing them in the same class with those men whom we call stupid, for the latter are stupid only from deficient education, and I rather like them. I have met with some of them — very honest fellows, who, with all their stupidity, had a kind of intelligence and an upright good sense, which cannot be the characteristics of fools. They are like eyes veiled with the cataract, which, if the disease could be removed, would be very beautiful.

„Reason is a particle of the Creator's divinity. When we use it with a spirit of humility and justice we are certain to please the Giver of that precious gift.“

— Giacomo Casanova
Context: Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it; and the greater power he ascribes to faith, the more he deprives himself of that power which God has given to him when He endowed him with the gift of reason. Reason is a particle of the Creator's divinity. When we use it with a spirit of humility and justice we are certain to please the Giver of that precious gift.

„My success and my misfortunes, the bright and the dark days I have gone through, everything has proved to me that in this world, either physical or moral, good comes out of evil just as well as evil comes out of good.“

— Giacomo Casanova
Context: My success and my misfortunes, the bright and the dark days I have gone through, everything has proved to me that in this world, either physical or moral, good comes out of evil just as well as evil comes out of good. My errors will point to thinking men the various roads, and will teach them the great art of treading on the brink of the precipice without falling into it. It is only necessary to have courage, for strength without self-confidence is useless. I have often met with happiness after some imprudent step which ought to have brought ruin upon me, and although passing a vote of censure upon myself I would thank God for his mercy. But, by way of compensation, dire misfortune has befallen me in consequence of actions prompted by the most cautious wisdom. This would humble me; yet conscious that I had acted rightly I would easily derive comfort from that conviction.

„I have often met with happiness after some imprudent step which ought to have brought ruin upon me, and although passing a vote of censure upon myself I would thank God for his mercy. But, by way of compensation, dire misfortune has befallen me in consequence of actions prompted by the most cautious wisdom. This would humble me; yet conscious that I had acted rightly I would easily derive comfort from that conviction.“

— Giacomo Casanova
Context: My success and my misfortunes, the bright and the dark days I have gone through, everything has proved to me that in this world, either physical or moral, good comes out of evil just as well as evil comes out of good. My errors will point to thinking men the various roads, and will teach them the great art of treading on the brink of the precipice without falling into it. It is only necessary to have courage, for strength without self-confidence is useless. I have often met with happiness after some imprudent step which ought to have brought ruin upon me, and although passing a vote of censure upon myself I would thank God for his mercy. But, by way of compensation, dire misfortune has befallen me in consequence of actions prompted by the most cautious wisdom. This would humble me; yet conscious that I had acted rightly I would easily derive comfort from that conviction.

„The reader of these Memoirs will discover that I never had any fixed aim before my eyes, and that my system, if it can be called a system, has been to glide away unconcernedly on the stream of life, trusting to the wind wherever it led.“

— Giacomo Casanova
Context: The reader of these Memoirs will discover that I never had any fixed aim before my eyes, and that my system, if it can be called a system, has been to glide away unconcernedly on the stream of life, trusting to the wind wherever it led. How many changes arise from such an independent mode of life!

„Worthy or not, my life is my subject, and my subject is my life.“

— Giacomo Casanova
Context: An ancient author tells us somewhere, with the tone of a pedagogue, if you have not done anything worthy of being recorded, at least write something worthy of being read. It is a precept as beautiful as a diamond of the first water cut in England, but it cannot be applied to me, because I have not written either a novel, or the life of an illustrious character. Worthy or not, my life is my subject, and my subject is my life. I have lived without dreaming that I should ever take a fancy to write the history of my life, and, for that very reason, my Memoirs may claim from the reader an interest and a sympathy which they would not have obtained, had I always entertained the design to write them in my old age, and, still more, to publish them.

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