CASANOVA IN BOHEMIA

Andrei Codrescu, Author . Free Press $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-684-86800-4

Poet, novelist, essayist and much-admired NPR commentator Codrescu (The Blood Countess) offers a ribald history of the final years of the infamous satyr. The novel imagines Giacomo Casanova—the son of an Italian actor, who began his career as a lifelong seducer of women when he was kicked out of the seminary for dallying with the nuns—in the twilight of a lifetime flamboyantly checkered by peccadillo and achievement. Scarcely a year after escaping prison and still in his early 30s, he made and lost a fortune when he introduced the lottery in Paris. At the age of 60, under the nom de plume Chevalier de Seingalt, he assumes the post of librarian for Count Waldstein at Dux Castle in the kingdom of Bohemia. Arranged around an outline of European history from 1785 to the year of Casanova's death in 1798, his reminiscences evolve in a sequence of nightly visits by an intelligent, precocious and sexually agreeable maidservant, Laura Brock, and her younger protégé, Libussa Moldau. Codrescu evokes (and takes liberties with) the historical events of the French Revolution and unblushingly drops the names of such icons as Franklin, Goethe, Mozart and Marie Antoinette into the mix. They are put to good, kinky use: Casanova so excites Laura with a story about an argument that he once had with Voltaire about poetry that she begins to lactate. Codrescu fans will enjoy this tongue-in-cheek patchwork of bawdy escapades. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/25/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-4165-6775-2
Hardcover - 512 pages - 978-0-7862-4388-4
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