Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Casanova & the condoms

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Loretta reports:

Byron’s adventures led me to Casanova.  I came upon this illustration at the Library of Congress, which in turn led me to his memoirs, where you can read on to discover his alternative to condoms.

…as soon as the syndic came we set off to renew our voluptuous orgy. On the way he talked about modesty, and said,—

“That feeling which prevents our shewing those parts which we have been taught to cover from our childhood, may often proceed from virtue, but is weaker than the force of education, as it cannot resist an attack when the attacking party knows what he is about. I think the easiest way to vanquish modesty is to ignore its presence, to turn it into ridicule, to carry it by storm. Victory is certain. The hardihood of the assailer subdues the assailed, who usually only wishes to be conquered, and nearly always thanks you for your victory.

 “Clement of Alexandria, a learned man and a philosopher, has remarked that the modesty which appears so deeply rooted in women’s hearts really goes no farther than the clothes they wear, and that when these are plucked off no trace of it remains.”

We found the three girls lightly clad and sitting on a large sopha, and we sat down opposite to them. Pleasant talk and a thousand amorous kisses occupied the half hour just before supper, and our combat did not begin till we had eaten a delicious repast, washed down with plenty of champagne.

We were sure of not being interrupted by the maid and we put ourselves at our ease, whilst our caresses became more lively and ardent. The syndic, like a careful man, drew a packet of fine French letters from his pocket, and delivered a long eulogium on this admirable preservative from an accident which might give rise to a terrible and fruitless repentance. The ladies knew them, and seemed to have no objection to the precaution; they laughed heartily to see the shape these articles took when they were blown out.

Top left illustration courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, CALL NUMBER:  Illus. in D285.8.C3 1872 [Rare Book RR], Reproduction No. LC-USZ62-48784 (b&w film copy neg.)

Bottom right illustration: Portrait of Giacomo Casanova in Venice, 1750-1755 ca.,  painted by his brother Francesco Casanova (1727-1802 or 3), Gosundarstvennyj Istoreceskij Muzej, Moscow


Lyn S said...

I am not sure whether this is an argument for mandatory sex education or against it. ;)

Oh dear, my strange word verification is copulus. Is this some sort of plot?

Vanessa Kelly said...

It's nice to know that men can immature in any era!

Lyn, my verification word is somprepe. Obviously, those guys were well prepared!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Er, that's supposed to be, "be immature!"

MsHellion said...

Vanessa said what I was going to say. *LOL* Men clearly never change.

nightsmusic said...

and our combat did not begin till we had eaten a delicious repast, washed down with plenty of champagne

Combat? Seriously? I guess I've never heard it referred to as 'combat' before. :oD

Apparently though, the contents of the letters didn't work for Casanova.

And my word verification is "stiger." Hmmm...I got a really boring one.

LorettaChase said...

Theo, you've never heard of amorous combat? Good heavens, you have not been reading enough dirty books, for sure. And OK, I have to admit, I did love the the men in their elegant 19th-C-version-of-elegant-18th-C-dress--blowing up condoms and thinking it was ça change...

Susan Holloway Scott said...

I like the faintly disgusted look on the women's faces as they watch -- like "hey, we came here to party, yet all these clowns will do with the condoms is blow them up. What doofuses!"

Amberlyn said...

Too funny!
Plus my verification word was "prookfo"! Wonder what that means!!

nightsmusic said...

Loretta, I am ashamed to say, I've only ever read that term in novels and really, thought it was one of those authorial licenses with a turn of phrase. I haven't seen it in actual diaries like this. I think it's great!

Ingrid said...

I keep seeing a skull on the seated man, not a face. When I first saw it I immediately assumed all kinds of moral warnings and memento mori themes in the picture. After reading the text I realise that is not the intention, but I keep seeing a skull, not a face.

Le Loup said...

Well there you go, always more to learn. I had no idea that these were available in that period. What were they made of?!
Le Loup.

LorettaChase said...

Le Loup, at Georgian London, you'll find an excellent description of the kind of condoms Casanova used:
They were usually made of sheep's intestines.

Le Loup said...

Thanks for the link, more than I ever wanted to know!!!
Regards, Le Loup.

Anonymous said...

Nobody seems to have got the point. Blowing condoms was not "immature" - it was to prove the soundness of the unreliable articles of the day.

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