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Giacomo Casanova (Jacques Casanova de Seingal) (1725 – 1798)


Italian adventurer and author; also known as Jacques Casanova de Seingalt.
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.
Casanova quotes
Man is free; but not unless he believes he is[.]
Casanova
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.




Man is a free agent; but he is not free if he does not believe it[.]
[H]appy or miserable, life is the only blessing which man possesses[.]
I will begin with this confession: whatever I have done in the course of my life, whether it be good or evil, has been done freely; I am a free agent.
Learn from me that a wise man who has heard a criminal accusation related with so many absurd particulars ceases to be wise when he makes himself the echo of what he has heard, for if the accusation should turn out to be a calumny, he would himself become the accomplice of the slanderer.
[T]hose who do not love [life] are unworthy of it.
Casanova
The spirit of rebellion is present in every great city, and the great task of wise government is to keep it dormant, for if it wakes it is a torrent which no dam can hold back.
I have always loved truth so passionately that I have often resorted to lying as a way of first introducing it into minds which were ignorant of its charms.
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.




This extremely interesting girl, after giving me a single glance from her beautiful eyes, stubbornly refused to look at me again. My vanity at once made me think that it was only so that I would be at full liberty to study her impeccable beauty. It was on this girl that I instantly set my sights, as if all Europe were only a seraglio provided for my pleasures.
Things have come to such a point in good society that, if you want to be polite, you can no longer ask a man from what country he comes, for if he is a Norman or a Calabrian he has, when he tells you so, to beg your pardon, or, if he is from the Pays de Vaud, to say he is Swiss. Nor will you ask a nobleman what his arms are, for if he does not know the jargon of heraldry you will embarrass him. you must not compliment a gentleman on his fine hair, for if it is a wig, he may think you are mocking him, nor praise a man or a woman on their fine teeth, for they may be false.
Casanova quotes
I have always had such sincere love for truth, that I have often begun by telling stories for the purpose of getting truth to enter the heads of those who could not appreciate its charms.
[W]e avenge intelligence when we deceive a fool, and the victory is worth the trouble[.]
Happy or unhappy, life is the only treasure which man possesses[.]
Great God, and you witnesses of my death, I have lived as a philosopher, and I die as a Christian.
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.
Should anyone bring against me an accusation of sensuality he would be wrong, for all the fierceness of my senses never caused me to neglect any of my duties.
One of the advantages of a great sorrow is that nothing else seems painful.


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