In his memoirs Casanova frequently refers to his and other people’s ‘genius’. Sometimes this genius is evil, sometimes it’s benevolent. However, for Casanova the term ‘genius’ doesn’t simply mean a person’s cleverness (although he does use it to mean that on occasion) but rather it has the quality of an oracle which enables some sort of connection with the mysterious forces of the spiritual and supernatural, either directly or through another. Here are a couple of extracts from Casanova’s memoirs:
What surprised me most was the force of Providence, of fortune, of chance, whatever name is given to it, of that very necessary combination which compelled me to find no hope but in that fatal monk, who had begun to be my protective genius in Chiozza at the moment my distress had likewise commenced. And yet, a singular guardian angel, this Stephano!
When I returned to the palace, thinking of the choice I had made, I said to myself, “Either I am mad, or I am obeying the impulse of a mysterious genius which sends me to Constantinople to work out my fate.”
However, my good genius did not approve of that decision, for I was not allowed to carry it into execution.
In ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ we have represented this mysterious oracle in the form of a second person voice, most notably in the Prologue but also at various other times throughout the novel. What’s interesting about this oracle from a story telling perspective is its ambiguity: it exists simultaneously as something which is both external to his character, insofar as it acts as a commentator upon his actions, and as an aspect of his character, insofar as it motivates his actions. This representation of Casanova’s oracle also highlights the advantages of a graphic novel as a medium. After the Prologue, when the second person voice becomes integrated directly into the story, it would be difficult to see how it could be produced successfully either in film or a non-visual book form in such a way as to capture its ambiguous dual quality. For example, in film, hearing the voice of the second person narrator will immediately reveal whether it is the character’s voice (and so internal) or a different voice (and so external).
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 4 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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