Another rediscovered masterpiece from the author of Embers: an erotically charged novel–written within the framework of historical reality–about Casanova’s fateful encounter with the woman who finally defeats him.
In 1756 Giacomo Casanova escaped from the dreaded cells of Venice’s most infamous jail: it is at this moment that Sándor Márai begins his story. Stopping to rest at the Italian village of Bolzano, Casanova secures a loan to rebuild his life, and resumes his art of seduction. But there is another reason he has come to this particular village: the memory of a duel he fought long ago with the duke of Parma over a girl named Francesca. Casanova lost the fight; Francesca became the duke’s wife; and the duke spared Casanova’s life on condition that he never set eyes on her again. The village of Bolzano is part of the duke’s lands. Now an old man, the duke arrives at the inn with a love letter he has intercepted from his wife to Casanova. He could kill Casanova on the spot but instead makes him an irresistible offer, one that will ultimately be the downfall of the notorious lover.