Ian Kelly / History / Non-Fiction

Book cover

UK Publisher

Hodder & Stoughton

US Publisher

Tarcher, Penguin

Date Published

June 11th, 2009


Zahar (Brazillian)
WSOY (Finnish)
Aletheia (Portuguese)
Laikraksts Diena (Latvian)
AST (Russian)
Kunst (Estonian)

Giacomo Casanova: one of the most beguiling and controversial individuals of his or any age. Braggart or perfect lover? Conman or genius? He made and lost fortunes, founded two state lotteries, wrote various plays, philosophical and mathematical treatises, opera libretti, poetry, and forty-two books. His 3,600 pages of memoirs recorded hundreds of meals as well, of course, as his affairs and sexual encounters with dozens of women and a handful of men and have bought him two centuries of notoriety. Now, in CASANOVA, Ian Kelly reveals previously unpublished documents by Giacomo himself, as well as his friends and lovers, which give new insights into his life and his world. From his devotion to the Kaballah to his collaboration with Mozart on his opera Don Giovanni, from his vast appetite for food and sex to his training for priesthood, this is the fascinating story of an icon of his age and ours.

Casanova was named best biography of the year by The Sunday Times (7th December 2008).


Where others have berated Casanova for exaggeration, inaccuracy or manifest error, Kelly extends him imaginative sympathy... he does provide a surprisingly intimate sense of what Casanova was like.

- The Times

...enthralling new biography puts us right. . . It is hard to conceive of a juicier, more informative account of social and sexual mores of 18th century Europe.

- Daily Mail

Casanova has baffled and thwarted many of those writers who, while trying to describe and evaluate his experiences, have succeeded only in repeating in edited form the events as he tells them, but in Ian Kelly he has at last found his Boswell... Ian Kelly has taken on a tremendous challenge and produced a great blast of a book, packed with energy and information, marinated in sympathy and understanding, and rippling with enthusiasm right down to the final footnote.

- Telegraph

Born into an acting family, and living among performers all his life, Casanova knew exactly how to play to an audience. The great strength of Ian Kelly's new biography is that he emphasises this aspect of the old rogue's character... By re-examining Casanova's life... Kelly has written an adult book, or I should say one for grown-ups... it is impressive work... He pays him the compliment of taking him seriously as man of genuine historical interest.

- Ben Wilson, Spectator

Much more than a serial seducer, Casanova was a great European intellectual, a romantic, a trickster and a writer of tremendous skill and energy. He was probably, as he would be the first to admit, the most interesting man who ever lived, as this vivid and vibrant biography suggests.

- The Sunday Times biography of the year 2008

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