Adventurer: The Life and Times of Giacomo Casanova

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$23.00  $21.39
Yale University Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 1.3 inches | 1.45 pounds

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About the Author
Leo Damrosch is the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature Emeritus at Harvard University. His many books include The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age and Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, winner of the National Book Critics Circle award and Pulitzer finalist for biography. He lives in Newton, MA.
"The great virtue of Mr. Damrosch's biography is that, while never losing critical distance, he fully succeeds in communicating that 'vivid presentness, ' that 'joyful eagerness' for life, which is what keeps us reading Casanova--and reading about him."--Gregory Dowling, Wall Street Journal

"Damrosch's biography is undoubtedly a huge achievement, at once erudite and vivid. By the end I was almost convinced that Casanova was worthy of such prodigious scholarship."--John Carey, Sunday Times

"[A] stern but measured book. . . . In his stylish, insightful and, yes, one must admit, sexy biography, Damrosch gives us the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly."--Laura Freeman, Times (UK)

"Colourful and entertaining. . . . The author is clear-eyed about Casanova's faults."--The Economist

"There have been many biographies of Casanova before, some of them very good, although they have tended to be thesis driven. . . . [Damrosch] is in turn clear that he is writing a post MeToo Casanova. At the same time, he is also keen that we should understand just what a valuable document Histoire is for scholars working on the 18th century."--Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian

"Damrosch's biography condenses a vast trove of Casanoviana into a well-researched, four-hundred-page narrative that is most engaging on its subject's catholic interests as an intellectual and on the milieus he traversed as an itinerant charlatan."--Judith Thurman, New Yorker

"Leo Damrosch is a professor emeritus of literature with an emphasis on the 18th century. And he reads Casanova post-Weinstein, so to speak--but not sourly or dogmatically, instead confidently, inspired, admiringly and at the same time critically, passionately. And he can write brilliantly too."--Jean-Martin Büttner, Basler Zeitung (Basel, Switzerland)

"Over the years [Damrosch] has earned a reputation not for being a popularizer, exactly, but for writing serious, well-researched books that also appeal to a general audience, and Adventurer, handsomely illustrated with photographs and reproductions, is no exception. It's careful without being fussy, learned without being ponderous. Like Casanova himself, Damrosch knows how to tell a good story. Unlike Casanova, he also knows when enough is enough."--Charles McGrath, Hudson Review

"A nuanced, deftly contextualized biography of an adventurer, an opportunist, and a man of voracious appetites. . . . Another top-notch work from Damrosch."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An eye-opening and well-informed study of an 'extraordinary character' in all his darkness and brilliance."--Publishers Weekly

"Beautifully conceived and shaped. . . . A page-turning account that penetrates the character of a most exceptional human being who was both a product of his age and an astute observer of its mores."--Arthur Hoyle, New York Journal of Books

"Leo Damrosch . . . reads his subject against the grain, weighing the lure of the legend against a twenty-first-century assessment of its moral costs and harms."--Clare Bucknell, Harper's Magazine

"The book is first-rate: exhaustively researched, smoothly written, meticulously edited, and attractively produced. . . . Damrosch seeks, while acknowledging Casanova's depredations, to place him within the larger context of 'libertine' thought and practices."--Larry W. Riggs, New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century

"Casanova's life was in the best of hands with Leo Damrosch's erudition. He follows Casanova's escapades and escapes as a vertiginous heroic story. Out of Venice we are thrown into an experiment with the eighteenth century, its tastes, and transgressions, revealing a surprising 'book of life.'"--Pierre Saint-Amand, author of Suite libertine: Vies du XVIIIe siècle

"A pleasure to read, remarkably clear and readable, engaging, vivid, informative--in short, an excellent biography that both delights and instructs."--April Alliston, Princeton University

"The name Casanova has become synonymous with serial seduction--hardly a model in the age of #MeToo. The excellence of Leo Damrosch's energetic biography is that it reveals so many other dimensions of this remarkable man: pioneering autobiographer, questioner of received ideas, traveler through high culture and low."--Jonathan Bate, author of Radical Wordsworth: The Poet Who Changed the World

Praise for Leo Damrosch's The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age

"Damrosch brilliantly brings together the members' voices. . . . As this stellar book moves from one Club member to another, it comes together as an ambitious venture homing in on the nature of creative stimulus."--Lyndall Gordon, New York Times Book Review

"Engaging and illuminating. . . . In The Club, as the actors appear one by one, surrounding Johnson and Boswell on Damrosch's stage, we are transported back to a world of conversations, arguments, ideas, and writings."--Jenny Uglow, New York Review of Books

"Beginning in 1764, some of Britain's future leading lights (including Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke and Edward Gibbon) met every Friday night to talk and drink. Damrosch's magnificent history revives the Club's creative ferment."--New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice