Re-visit the life of history’s most notorious lover, from childhood to Casanova’s daring escape from the State Inquisition’s prison. Using eighteenth-century poetic conventions that Casanova himself would have cherished, Kildare Dobbs infuses this renegade’s legacy with a modern, witty and very hilarious bite.
About the Book
Here is a twenty-first century riposte to Lord Byron’s Don Juan. Casanova in Venice leads the reader on a fast-paced, deliriously raunchy journey in pursuit of that infamous lover and liar, Casanova. The rhythm gallops and the imagery bucks as Casanova grows out of innocence and into the daring, deceitful legend that has since become the subject of fascination, envy and art -- and Kildare Dobbs reveals every tantalizing detail in a meter that begs for recitation.
Or rather, almost every detail. For the narrator of Casanova in Venice has a mind of his own and a decidedly modern agenda in this particular re-telling: from complaints about the excessive sanitation of women today, to opinions on the Big Bang Theory, the lively banter between narrator, audience and Casanova himself turns this mock-heroic epic into an equally thoughtful commentary on modern life.
The narrative frame is based loosely on Casanova’s own Memoires and uses the same classical eighteenth-century poetic conventions that Casanova might have used, and so nymphs, gods, lyres and Muses all make the occasional appearance. Most sections are headed by a translated epigraph quoted from the Memoires and are written entirely in light-hearted rhyming couplets. Accompanied by Wesley Bates’ magical, irreverent illustrations throughout, the result is, finally, a worthy contribution to modern mythology: ‘Arthur, Cu, Scarface, move over, / make room for hero Casanova!’
2011—ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year,
2011—ReLit Awards, Poetry,
Praise for Casanova in Venice
How exactly did the world-renowned playboy come to be, and what was it that made him tick? Kildare Dobbs’s most recent poetry collection, Casanova in Venice: A Raunchy Rhyme, provides insight into these questions and more as he takes readers on a very rollicking and sometimes thought-provoking journey through the great lover’s life.
Using Casanova’s own Mémoires as the framework for the nineteen narrative poems in this collection, Dobbs provides readers with a broad understanding of Casanova’s life -- from his early childhood to his later years, when the myth of the man grew to epic proportions. Dobbs presents Casanova’s experiences of abandonment by his promiscuous mother; his adolescent years, when he was surprised by early stirrings of desire; the reversal of fortune, when he saved a senator and became his heir; his arrest and jailing by the Venetian Inquisition; and his later escape. While the collection may be read for the sheer pleasure of the ‘raunchy rhyme,’ Dobbs’s use of Casanova’s history fleshes out the history’s story, lending additional realism to the tales of his earthly enjoyments with countesses, nuns, and everyone in between.
The ‘raunchy rhyme,’ as noted in the title, is the supreme delight of Dobbs’s collection. Throughout the book, readers watch outrageous trysts develop while listening to hilarious double entendre (‘Awake, my lute!’) and surprising, memorable rhymes (‘fondle her’ and ‘gondola’). In ‘Pheromones,’ Dobbs explores Casanova’s powerful chemicals: ‘Two nuns a hundred yards away: / one whiff -- they’re in the family way.’ In ‘Love of Women,’ Dobbs lets readers in on Casanova’s affair with the young, ‘Countess Countless’: ‘He loves her truly for her mind / and really exquisite behind / who to behold evolves a pang, / -- it’s like a beautiful meringue!’ The poet’s use of rhythm and rhyme not only moves the narrative forward, but lends an extra kick of fun to the ribald situations Casanova puts himself in.
Throughout the collection, Dobbs immerses readers in beautiful, spare descriptions of Venice as the backdrop of Casanova’s tale. In ‘Peripeteia,’ he writes: ‘A summer night -- the rising moon / casts sequins on the dark lagoon.’ In ‘Apotheosis,’ readers are given ’gondolas nodding at their tether / like restive horses crowd together.’ On a visual level, the book contains nine beautiful (some titillating) wood engravings by the artist Wesley W. Bates. Additionally, a small line drawing of a different Venetian mask ends each poem, giving the book an extra fanciful touch.
—Jennifer Fandel, ForeWord Magazine
About the Author
Kildare Dobbs is an award-winning writer and poet who has lived the world over. Born in 1923, in India, Dobbs was raised in Ireland, and educated in Dublin, Cambridge and London. After serving in the Royal Navy during World War II and in East Africa, Dobbs finally migrated to Canada in 1952 and worked in journalism and publishing. His autobiography, Running to Paradise (1962), won a Governor-General’s Award, and since then he has published various collections of short stories, novellas and poetry, including The Great Fur Opera (1970). In 2000, he was invested with the Order of Ontario, and installed as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Toronto in 2002. His memoir, Running the Rapids, was published in 2005. Kildare Dobbs now lives and writes in Toronto.
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