Jeanette is one of the minor characters of ‘Casanova in Paris’ who becomes an innocent victim of the spy-master rivalry between Bechard and De Bernis.  Such characters’ usefulness, however, can go beyond their relatively small contribution to the storyline by highlighting some other aspect of the narrative’s landscape.  In this case, Jeanette’s belief that her son’s disability has been brought about by a neighbour’s curse points to one of the significant differences between the modern mind and the early modern mind.  Belief in the metaphysical was ingrained in people’s perspective across the social spectrum.  These beliefs could be formal, institutionalised and international, as represented by religion and the church, they could be international and clandestine, such as Rosicrucianism and cabbala, or they could be local and informal.  It is this latter manifestation that Jeanette reflects and that would have been commonplace amongst the majority of the population.  In fact, in most people’s lives, beliefs in Christianity and the occult would merge together pretty seamlessly.  Casanova, although he was a man of letters and a philosopher who ridiculed the ignorant superstitions of others, admitted that he himself was quite superstitious.  In a very precarious world in which most people went hungry and whose lives could be devastated by the smallest piece of misfortune, the idea that metaphysical forces existed which could be appealed to for help in times of need was a source of hope and comfort.

‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.

27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.


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