Two overlapping themes throughout ‘Casanova in Paris’ are gender and sexuality, which is almost inevitable given the period and that the main protagonist is Casanova. He had an estranged relationship with his mother (see blog on Zanetta Farussi and long form article on Casanova’s early life) who was an actress when for women the profession was almost synonymous with prostitution. Growing up around the theatre, he was exposed to attitudes towards sexual and gendered identities that were not typical of society at large. Casanova’s own sexuality itself was not entirely unambiguous. On several occasions he had encounters with men or encounters with women who had disguised themselves as men. He discusses the prevalence of cross-dressing in chapter 7 (‘Spies’), including his experience with castrati (see blogs on Castrati and Bellino), as he tries to persuade Marie to dress up as a man in order to do some sleuthing. Neither was his relationship with women straight-forward. He both exploited women and was exploited by them (one woman drove him very close to committing suicide). His low birth disempowered him at a time when your social rank was hugely important and because of this he seemed to able to relate more closely to women who themselves were disempowered as a consequence of their birth (in their case due to their gender). It is one of the reasons that in our story he is so comfortable in the company of the Marquise d’ Urfé.
Throughout the narrative, the social restraints and expectations of the time that are placed upon women influences in some conspicuous way the actions and intentions of pretty much all of the female characters. Some take advantage of the opportunities society allows to them in their role as women, such as Pompadour and Boufflers, some, like Marie, grudgingly conform to that role and some, like d’Urfé and Gabrielle, reject it. The most radical historical re-imagining we have carried out involves the Marquise d’Urfé who we have transformed into a lesbian pimp for noblewomen in unhappy marriages (chapter 5, ‘Secrets’).
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 5 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.
#gender #behindthescenes #storytelling #sexuality #graphicnovel #women