(London: The Casanova Society, 1922). 254 x 203 mm. (10 x 8"). 12 volumes bound in six. Translated by Arthur Machen. ONE OF 1,000 COPIES.
Attractive later burgundy half morocco over red linen boards by Bayntun (stamp-signed on front flyleaf in each volume), raised bands flanked by gilt rules, spine panels with gilt chandelier-like centerpiece, each spine with two olive brown morocco labels, top edges gilt. With 12 frontispieces of various kinds (a bust of Casanova, a large fold-out map of Venice, a fold-out facsimile of two documents in Casanova's hand, an engraving showing a Casanova escape, two portraits of Casanova, a title page of a minor work by Casanova, a portrait of Manon Baletti, engravings of a London cityscape and of Vaux Hall, Casanova's death record, and his grave). Corners a bit worn, joints of the early volumes a little rubbed (two joints cracked and boards consequently with a little wobble), one volume with small loss of leather at bottom of spine, but still quite an attractive set, the bindings entirely sound and without any serious wear, and the wide-margined text in virtually unused condition.
Based on the rare unabridged London edition of 1894, this is an attractively bound copy of a limited edition of what Franco Fido (in the "Cambridge History of Italian Literature") calls "one of the most entertaining and exciting tales of the century." Fido says that sometime during the last eight years of his life, the Italian-born Casanova (1725-98) "composed his 'Histoire de ma Vie,' above all in order to relive in writing the vivid sensations and intense pleasures of his vagabond, libertine life and thus compensate for his gloomy and solitary existence as librarian in a remote castle in Bohemia." Written in fluent French, the account describes with unabashed frankness Casanova's rogueries and amours across an 18th century Europe that comes alive as the narrative backdrop. A writer of romantic and macabre tales, our translator Arthur Machen (1863-1947) provides a preface here in which he calls Casanova not only a "woman hunter," but also an "occult swindler" who victimizes senators, noble ladies, and Dutch financiers with a phony cabala. Also in this special edition are two additional chapters discovered by Arthur Symons, an index, and a map indicating the hero's itineraries. Our quarto-size volumes are distinguished by an extremely pleasing italic typeface and are handsomely printed in general. (CAB07055)