The Marquise d’Urfé is based upon a real historical figure who we have dramatically reimagined. D’Urfé was the richest woman in France by dint of her marriage to an immensely rich nobleman who died when she was only 29 (there were, of course, the inevitable rumours that she’d bumped him off). She was a highly educated and intelligent woman with a taste for the occult. Although today much of what she did and was willing to believe seems bizarre, we must remember that there wasn’t such a sharp dividing line in the minds of the people at the time between science and the supernatural. It did make her rather gullible, however, and Casanova swindled her out of a small fortune (see the article we’ve put together on Marquise d’Urfé).
Although we have made radical changes to her history, we have still included in the story the nature of the actual relationship between the real Marquise d’Urfe and Casanova but claim that the history which has come down to us is a fake history, made up by Casanova on d’Urfé’s behalf in order to keep her ‘true’ life secret (ie, her life as we describe it in chapter 5, ‘Secrets’ – a lesbian pimp for noblewomen in unhappy marriages).
The Marquise was highly exceptional in that she was an independent woman of great wealth and status (even Pompadour relied upon the favour of Louis XV). This allows for an interesting power dynamic in the relationship between Casanova and d’Urfé in that it is the woman who possesses the greater authority. This was not unique in Casanova’s relationships with women (see our blogs on Henriette) but it was unusual. However, the relationship between our Casanova and Marquise is able to overcome the massive gulf in social status as they have in common the fact that they are both outsiders, d’Urfe because of her sexuality and Casanova because of his humble birth and self-imposed exile from Venice. D’Urfé’s role in ‘Casanova in Paris’ is to become more pivotal in Part 2.
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 7 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.
#characterisation #character #d’Urfe #women #gender #sexuality #casanova #occult