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Casanova, Giacomo

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1725-1798) Venetian author, moderately prolific, variously employed; best known for his Mémoires (posthumously published in 12 volumes 1826-1838), the single-mindedness of which caused his name to pass into the language as a serial seducer of women. He wrote initially in Italian, but later moved over to French, the language in which he wrote his Fantastic-Voyage novel, Icosameron, ou Histoire d'Édouard et d'Élisabeth Qui Passèrent Quatre-Vingt-Un Ans chez les Mégamicres, Habitans Aborigènes du Protocosme dans l'Intérieur de Notre Globe (1787 5vols; cut trans Rachel Zurer as Casanova's "Icosameron"; or the Story of Edward and Elizabeth Who Spent Eighty-One Years in the Land of the Megamicres, Original Inhabitants of Protocosmos in the Interior of the Globe 1986). The protagonists spend 81 years in a world in the Hollow Earth inhabited by the androgynous and oviparous Mégamicres ("big/littles"), who are small in stature but large in spirit, and who have been there from before the Fall – this land being an analogue of Eden – thus avoiding Original Sin, but consequently soulless (as discussed in James Blish's A Case of Conscience [September 1953 If; exp 1958]). They describe their society to the two shipwrecked wanderers at some length (each volume of the tale is 350pp or more), and the wanderers (brother and sister, though they mate in the Eden that they have discovered) in turn tell their tale, in dialogue form, to a group of English aristocrats. It turns out that they have left millions of descendants inside the Earth, and have transformed the society there. Though carelessly exorbitant in its storyline, the book is quite realistic in tone, and contains a great deal of scientific speculation and anticipation, notably about electricity, and a fair amount of social Satire. It was probably influenced by Voltaire's Micromegas (in Le Micromégas de Mr. de Voltaire ..., coll 1752; trans anon 1753), and more directly by Ludvig Holberg's Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterraneum (1741 in Latin; trans as A Journey to the World Underground 1742).

Casanova adopted the invented title Chevalier de Seingalt and signed some of his work in French with the pseudonym Jacques Casanova de Seingalt. [JC/PN]

see also: France; Italy.

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova

born Venice: 2 April 1725

died Dux, Bohemia [now Duchcov, Czech Republic]: 4 June 1798



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