Histoire de ma vie
Histoire de ma vie jusqu'à l'an 1797 (English: Story of my life until the year 1797) or Histoire de ma vie, as it is commonly known, is the autobiography and memoir of Venetian adventurer and author Giacomo Casanova. Though Casanova himself was Italian, the manuscript is written in French as Casanova lived in Paris for many years and felt that French was a much wider spoken language than Italian.
In spite of its name, the book only covers Casanova’s life until the year 1774.
On his deathbed, Casanova gave the manuscript to his sister’s son-in-law Carlo Angiolini. Angiolini’s son sold the manuscript in 1820 to Leipzig publishers, Brockhaus.
The first text was published between 1822 and 1828 in German.
In 1825, a French translation of the German edition appeared, though it varied massively from the original manuscript, which the translators had been unable to view.
In order to make the French edition a more accurate representation of Casanova’s journal, Brockhaus asked French professor Jean Laforgue to edit the manuscript and polish Casanova’s French.
Laforgue however, made many changes to the memoirs, adding explicit details to Casanova’s love scenes which made them somewhat more vulgar.
Laforgue also omitted many of Casanova’s professions on the Christian faith.
This edition, and further translations of it were sold for 130 years before Casanova’s true works were published.
In 1960, Brockhaus published an unpolished, uncut edition of Casanova’s Histoire de ma vie which is missing four chapters which Laforgue apparently lost.
Editions of the book which are true to Casanova’s original memoirs include:
- Histoire de ma vie. Edition intégrale. 12 vols. in 6. Wiesbaden and Paris: F.A. Brockhaus and Librarie Plon, 1960-61 – French
- The History of My Life. 12 vols. in 6. Trans. Willard R. Trask. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997 – English
- Storia della mia vita. Ed. Piero Chiara and Federico Roncoroni. 3 vols. Milan: Mondadori, 1983-89 – Italian
On his deathbed, Casanova passed the original manuscript of his memoirs to his sister’s son-in-law Carlo Angiolini, whose son sold the manuscript in 1820 to Leipzig publishers, Brockhaus.
On February 18 2010, the original manuscript was sold for £6 million to Bibliotheque Nationale de France.