Looking for a scandalous love affair this Valentine’s Day? Look no further than the Leeds Central Library Special Collections for ‘The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova written by himself now for the first time translated into English in twelve volumes’.
Privately printed in 1894 the title page explains that ‘This Edition is strictly limited to 1000 numbered Copies, 500 of which are for America’ with our edition marked as number 112.
While not as scandalous as its notorious contents the book itself carries its own story. Between 1826 and 1838 the translator Laforgue produced a French edition, and though he had access to the original manuscript his version was subject to heavy censorship, changes to the text, allegations that some sections were invented and a loss of four chapters never to be seen again. It was on this edition that Arthur Machen based our 1894 English version.
For those of wanting the authentic story written in the original French we have the 1960 edition taken from the original manuscript now owned by the National Library of France.
On his death in 1798 Giacomo Casanova was the librarian for Count Joseph Karl Von Waldstein of Bohemia, proof that great romancers are not only found on the shelves of the library but stacking them too.
Items from the Leeds Central Library Special Collections can be viewed in the Local and Family History Library on the second floor.