Tuesday, February 12, 2013


It is so gay that I felt queerly rejected


We all know the other Casanova, Giacomo, and it is a funny surprise to discover this Benedetto. The book covers most of the 18th century, a time when philosophers were trying to open up their minds to the future and to open up the minds of other people to what had to be done to let the sun rise. But the book is not that deeply involved with the philosophical debates of the time. It is more a long book about all kinds of gossips more than serious history or reflection.

The second element is that Benedetto has little to do with Giacomo. Officially they don’t even know each other. Giacomo is a skirt chaser and Benedetto is a pants hunter, in fact more what is in the pants than the pants themselves. He is heavily descriptive of all his sexual affairs and who is who in good society. Gossips as I said, along with explicit scenes of what may happen between two men or more when they meet intimately.

The third interest is maybe the best one. They travel across Europe as if there were highways in those days and fast trains too. We visit all kinds of cities though he does not spend much time describing them since he is only interested in the dominant men he can seduce. Of course he has a long lasting love affair with a man from Dresden, Carl Anton, and it is this man who will accompany him in the second half of his adult life and finally to Rome where the book closes.

The most explicit element is in fact the very hypocritical duplicity of the people of the church at the top echelons of power, from the Pope to the bishops. They either take part in all the partying and gang bang in this life or at least witness and enjoy but apparently they do not waste too much time chasing the perverts and catching them.

Here and there some precise details may be given like the information about the 1750 burning of two homosexuals in the Place de Grève in Paris. He even gives their names, Bruno Lenoir and Jean Diot. Apparently it is a serious case that was vastly commented at the time and was brought up in the Paris City Council in May 2011 with the demand or wish from the Communists councilors that a plaque be erected in the neighborhood where they had been arrested. The book then might be interesting as a testimony about this period since Benedetto Casanova was a spy for the Pope to follow his brother more or less incognito who was suspected of being a spy for Venice trying to gather support for a reunification n of Northern Italy and the inclusion of Papal states into that project.

The book though is so heavily impregnated with gay sex and gay exchanges that the historical dimension becomes light and even doubtful. If you like erotic literature this is the book you can offer to your partner for Valentine’s Day.


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