The Leopard

by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa

Hardcover, 1960

Call number

FIC LAM

Collection

Publication

William Collins Sons Company and Pantheon (1960), Edition: First Edition

Description

Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. A classic of modern fiction. Set in the 1860s, THE LEOPARD is the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution.

Media reviews

35 livres cultes à lire au moins une fois dans sa vie
Quels sont les romans qu'il faut avoir lu absolument ? Un livre culte qui transcende, fait réfléchir, frissonner, rire ou pleurer… La littérature est indéniablement créatrice d’émotions. Si vous êtes adeptes des classiques, ces
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titres devraient vous plaire.
De temps en temps, il n'y a vraiment rien de mieux que de se poser devant un bon bouquin, et d'oublier un instant le monde réel. Mais si vous êtes une grosse lectrice ou un gros lecteur, et que vous avez épuisé le stock de votre bibliothèque personnelle, laissez-vous tenter par ces quelques classiques de la littérature.
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4 more
What makes The Leopard an immortal book is that it kisses perfection full on the mouth. Its major theme – the workings of mortality – is explored with an intelligence and poignancy rarely equalled and never, to my knowledge, surpassed.
The Spectator
It is not a historical novel. It is a novel which happens to take place in history. Only once does a historical character intrude - King Bomba - and he is rapidly reduced to domestic proportions... I first read this noble book in Italian, but my knowledge of the language is too slight to enable me
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to judge Mr Archibald Colquhoun’s translation. It does not flow and glow like the original — how should it? — but it is sensitive and scholarly.
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The New Yorker
Il Gattopardo is not like a nineteenth-century novel. It goes by much more quickly than the film and is told with an ironic tone that in the film is entirely lacking. Lampedusa’s writing is full of witty phrase and color. It belongs to the end of the century of Huysmans and D’Annunzio, both of
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whom, although their subjects are so different from one another, it manages to suggest at moments. There are also little patches of Proust. The rich pasta served at the family dinner and the festive refreshments at the ball are described with a splendor of language which is rarely expended on food but which is in keeping with all the rest of Lampedusa’s half-nostalgic, half-humorous picture of a declining but still feudal princely family in Sicily in the sixties of the last century.
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Bookforum
While you are reading The Leopard, and particularly while you are rereading it, you are likely to feel that it is one of the greatest novels ever written. If this sense fades as you move away from the book, it is only because one's memory cannot fully retain the pungent artfulness of Lampedusa's
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brilliant sentences. The Leopard is a true novel: It has a fully formed central character, a narrative thrust that keeps you reading, even a historical grounding in the events surrounding Garibaldi's landing in Sicily and the creation of modern Italy. But unless you treat it essentially as a poem—unless you memorize its sentences as if they were lines by Keats, Hopkins, or Eliot (all of them, incidentally, poets whom Lampedusa adored)—the novel's power will dissipate with eerie rapidity the minute you finish reading. It is as ephemeral as the state of mind it chronicles, which is, in turn, part of a vanishing civilization, and no amount of nostalgic remembrance or effortful evocation will do it justice... When Bassani contacted the widowed Principessa of Lampedusa to see if there were any more bits of the novel available, she offered him only the chapter about a ball. ("A ball is always a good thing," Bassani agreed—and how would Visconti ever have made his movie without it?) It was not until Bassani's subsequent visit to Palermo, made specifically to ferret out any other missing pieces, that he obtained from Lanza Tomasi the full manuscript, including the chapter about the priest. Licy never did feel happy about the publication of that chapter: Apparently, Lampedusa had expressed last-minute doubts about it. But it is impossible to imagine the finished book without it, and one is grateful to Bassani for his vigorous intervention. Like so much else in the history of this novel, this story seems to demonstrate that only a nearly random process could have yielded such perfection as its endpoint.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member eleanor_eader
This book was recommended – handed, actually - to me by a bloke in Oxfam, during an otherwise fruitless browse of their bookshelves. Being too polite (and curious) to dismiss someone’s reading recommendation when the book in question was only 79 shiny pence, I did my bit for charity and bought
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the proffered copy and the unmistakable aroma of other people’s houses that came with it. However, not having a clue what it was about, once home, it took a long time for it to work its way up from the bottom of my pile o’ books, and it was almost six months after Mr. Random Gent bestowed his blessing upon it that I heaved the sigh one reserves for books one doesn’t expect to get into, and got down to it.

The Leopard is a rare creature (on my bookshelves, at least); Sicilian historical fiction. It chronicles the fortunes of the Prince of Salina’s family, their romances, distractions and exquisitely ordered lives during the Italian Unification, particularly those of the principal character, Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, mathematician and astronomer, as he comes to understand what current events mean for the future of the aristocracy and his family.

Despite a tendency towards the depressive, this is a rather beautiful book… I might be biased after encountering the word ‘Squirearchy’, but translated or not, the writing brings perfectly into mind the elegance, ostentation, and fragility of the Salina family’s world. It is full of sad, warm affection, set perfectly against the cool march of history.

Definitely worth reading. My thanks to the nice man in Oxfam. (I hope your daughter enjoyed playing with her Barbie horse).
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LibraryThing member lauralkeet
The Leopard is a rich and descriptive novel about a Sicilian prince in the 1860s, an age when aristocracy and the upper classes were in decline. Published posthumously, the author was himself a prince. This book distills Lampedusa's life experiences and associated wisdom into a short 210 pages.

The
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novel is primarily a character study, full of eloquent language and imagery. The figure of Don Fabrizio, the patriarchal prince, looms large: "As he crossed the two rooms preceding the study he tried to imagine himself as an imposing leopard with smooth scented skin preparing to tear a timid jackal to pieces ... it was an irritated Leopard that entered the study." (p. 105) He commands attention in the evenings as he reads "out to his family a modern novel in instalments, exuding dignified benevolence from every pore." (p. 119). And yet he struggles with his decline in local society where, "no longer the major landowner in Donnafugata, ... now found himself forced to receive, when in afternoon dress himself, a guest appearing in evening clothes." (p. 73)

Each chapter of the novel is lush and descriptive, painting a picture of the local village, a summer home, and (my personal favorite), a ball:

"Evoked, created almost by the approving words and still more approving thoughts, the Colonel now appeared at the top of the stairs. He was moving amid a tinkle of epaulettes, chains and spurs in his well-padded, double-breasted uniform, a plumed hat under his arm and his left wrist propped on a curved sabre. He was a man of the world with graceful manners, well-versed, as all Europe knew by now, in hand-kissings dense with meaning; every lady whose fingers were brushed by his perfumed moustaches that night was able to re-evolke from first-hand knowledge the historical incident so highly praised in the popular press. .... Above the ordered swirl of her pink crinoline Angelica's white shoulders merged into strong soft arms; her head looked small and proud on its smooth youthful neck adorned with intentionally modest pearls. And when from the opening of her long kid glove she drew a hand which though not small was perfectly shaped, on it was seen glittering the Neapolitan sapphire." (p.168-169).

It is during this very ball that Fabrizio begins to loathe the very society that has made him a rich and powerful man. The novel's remaining chapters leap across the decades, portraying Fabrizio's decline and his legacy.

Since the best part of this book is its very language, it is best read in a quiet nook, and when time allows it to be savored. If conditions are right, the reader will be rewarded.
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LibraryThing member gbill
‘The Leopard’ is a masterpiece that works on many levels: the writing is absolutely gorgeous, it provides great insight into the character of the people of Sicily, and it’s an interesting snapshot of the era when the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was invaded by Garibaldi in what would pave the
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way for the unification of modern Italy. Much is made of the theme of the fading glory of the Salinas family (whose coat of arms bore a leopard), similar I suppose to the fading glory of aristocratic families of the American South after the Civil War, but the novel is broader than that, and quite poignant in its description of the ultimate fate of all of us: breaking down and quickly fading from memory, ephemeral regardless of what we’ve accomplished or possessed in life. It’s also a novel that has it all, from the pangs of love to moments of great humor, and it was written by di Lampedusa at the end of his life, when he had acquired real perspective and insight into life and all its foibles. Brilliant.
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LibraryThing member jwhenderson
One of the best historical novels that I have ever read (and reread). It tells an epic family story in beautiful prose. Lampedusa never strikes a wrong note and creates, in the patriarch of the family, Don Fabrizio the Sicilian prince, one of the great tragic figures in literature. The novel
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successfully depicts the end of his world and the beginning of modern Italy.
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LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
Sadly, this is the only novel written by the author, and he only just completed it before he died. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, as I see it, good in that he managed to finish writing the book in time, bad that he did not start writing a bit earlier in life so he could have rattled off
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a few more. But, the preface has something interesting to bear in mind, which having read the book I found myself recalling and agreeing with. It says that an author can only write his first novel once, and that subsequent novels will be affected by the previous works, perhaps not being all that they could have been if they were written without the influence of other ideas. I don't know how true this is, but the author apparently spent his whole life immersed in literature, reading, teaching, discussing it, and this appears to have culminated in him writing this single excellent novel.
The story itself is based around his family history, which doesn't sound in itself anything to get too excited about. The story centres around the Prince of Lampedusa - the Leopard - the authors great grandfather. It details family life, the changes occurring in Italy politically, and life in Sicily. The plot isn't intriguing or fast paced, or overly stimulating, but there's enough "human interest" and understated drama to keep the reader interested. This is not really what the book is about though, this book is subtle, and would lose its effect with anything too theatrical or exaggerated going on. This isn't to say that the book is not impressive though, it is just impressive in descriptions of the nuances of the characters moods, the varied environments, and the often wry or amusing interchanges of dialogue. This book paints a now non-existent world, and thanks to the author it has been preserved, if only in fiction for us to enjoy.
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LibraryThing member giorgiad
The Leopard (Italian: Il Gattopardo) is a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa that chronicles the changes in Sicilian life and society during the Risorgimento. Published posthumously in 1958, after two rejections by the leading Italian publishing houses Mondadori and Einaudi, it became the
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top-selling novel in Italian history and is considered one of the most important novels in modern Italian literature.
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LibraryThing member Peppuzzo
Everything changes so that nothing changes.

The most important Italian novel from the XX century. It’s a representation of what it is to be Sicilian, philosophically, literarily and sexually. A must. This book ran the risk never to be published, but luckily it’s there, and nowadays translated in
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most languages, including yours.
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LibraryThing member Dorritt
I lingered as long as I could, but finally forced myself to finish The Leopard. Not because I wanted the book done with, but because a part of me couldn’t bear break the spell cast this gorgeous, hauntingly elegiac tale.

At first glance, there seems nothing particularly promising in this tale of
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Don Fabrizio (aka “The Leopard”), the last of the Sicilian princes, witnessing the gradual diminishment and death of the Old Order to which he belongs. Not that the historical incident itself isn’t without drama: di Lampedusa’s tale is set against the backdrop of Garibaldi’s populist uprising against the city-states of Italy, which eventually dissolves into a republic compromise paternally (and opportunistically) overseen by France’s Bourbon king and a newly ascendant wealthy merchant class. In this way the novel reminds me of Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, another novel in which historic upheavals are subtly but powerfully upstaged by smaller, infinitely more poignant social, individual upheavals.

For this is foremost the tale of Don Fabrizio, a character of rich and profound complexity. Handsome, proud, sensual, he possesses all the privileges and prejudices of his class. Yet this prince is also a natural philosopher, a man who has learned how to turn the coldly rational mind he applies to the study of the stars to an equally objective study of the aristocratic class to which he belongs, to the beloved but brutal country in which he lives, to the historical events unfolding around him, and to the possible legacies that he might leave in his wake. Presented with the choice between proud extinction (“the animal had died tortured by anxious hopes of salvation, imagining it could still escape when it was already caught, just like so many human beings,” Don Frabrizio remarks of a rabbit captured during a dawn hunt) or gradual, demeaning adaptation, he resolutely chooses the infinitely more difficult course, undertaking a succession of political, social, and moral compromises that, while inevitably resulting in the death of the world and the values he has always embraced, ensures the safe and prosperous ascension of generations to come, including his clever, worldly nephew Tancredi, his calculating wife Angelica, and his ambitious, crass, merchant-class father-in-law, Sedalas.

Rising to the formidable challenge posed by such a complex tale is di Lampedusa’s prose, which is as clever as it is gorgeous. Time and time again I found myself lingering appreciatively over sumptuously lyric descriptions of the Sicilian countryside (“One could already hear the rumble of the solar chariot climbing the last slope below the horizon; soon they would meet the first flocks moving toward them, torpid as tides”), wry Austen-esque witticisms (“Such thoughts were disagreeable, as are all those that make us understand things too late”), or biting editorials (“Much would happen, but all would be play-acting; a noisy play with a few spots of blood on the comic costumes. For this was a country of arrangements, with none of that frenzy of the French.”) Since this is a review, rather than a paper for a graduate literature class, I’ll omit an in-depth discussion of how di Lampedusa’s subtle metaphors and symbolism (the soldier’s body rotting in the garden, the miracle of the Blessed Corbera, the forced marriage of Santino and ‘Ncilina) enrich and deepen the tale’s enduring themes.

Elegaic, melancholy, wise, complex, sensual, clever, introspective, gently but persistently ironic, The Leopard is a masterpiece of both literary achievement and unforgettable storytelling.
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LibraryThing member grheault
Sicily, west. Palermo. Princes, feudal estates, the changing of the guard, the young take charge, the nouveau become rich, the old become irrelevant, and you find them sitting in their remnant estates, old castles, sitting among their old masters, sipping lemonade and mint jupleps in the Sicilian
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summer, telling war stories, as the powers that be trample through, and the next generation comes into the world with a fresh perspective. Especially interesting if you've ever been to Sicily.

Author's last name is: Tomasi di Lampedusa -- not di Lampedusa, an important detail, according to Italian friend.
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LibraryThing member nkmunn
great to read aloud with a friend
LibraryThing member neurodrew
The Leopard
Giuseppe Tomasi de Lampedusa
Friday, April 13, 2012 8:10 PM

Perhaps autobiographical, this novel describes the decline of a noble family in Sicily in the era of Garibaldi. The leopard is part of the coat of arms of the Salina family, and the action mainly centers on the Prince, Don
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Fabrizio, the patriarch, about age 50 when first described. He is introspective, loves quiet and astronomy, but is wise in the way of aristocrats, and in the needs of his family. He also has many affairs, and with irony and amusement watches the manipulations in love affairs of his nephew, Tancredi, even though Tancredi breaks his daughter’s heart. His confessor and priest is a serious commentator on the lives of the Salinas. The descriptions of the customs and countryside of Sicily, are rich; the introduction states that more can be learned about Sicily from this novel than from most histories. The book was written by a Scilian aristocrat in the last years of his life, about 1955. It is funny in parts, and in the end sad, although the last chapter is an afterthought, and occasionally there is an anachronistic comment in the text.

“…he had found himself comparing this ghastly journey with his own life, which had first moved over smiling level ground, then clambered up rocky mountains, slid over threatening passes, to emerge eventually into a landscape of interminable undulations, all the same color, all bare as despair. These early morning fantasies were the very worst that could happen to a man of middle age; and although the Prince knew that they would vanish with the day’s activities he suffered acutely all the same, as he was used enough to them by now to realise that deep inside of him they left a sediment of sorrow which, accumulating day by day, would in the end be the real cause of his death”

“A man of forty-five can consider himself still young till the moment comes when he has children old enough to fall in love. The Prince felt old age come over him all in one blow; he forgot the huge distances still tramped out shooting, the Gesumaria he could still evoke from his wife, his freshness now at the end of a long and arduous journey.”

“Of course, love. Flames for a year, ashes for thirty”

“Don Fabrizio had always liked Don Ciccio, partly because of the compassion inspired in him by all who from youth had thought of themselves as dedicated to the Arts, and in old age, realising they had no talent, still carried on the same activity at lower levels, pocketing withered dreams, and he was also touched by the dignity of his poverty.”

“Nothing could be decently hated except eternity”
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LibraryThing member Joycepa
Set primarily in 1860 the year of Garibaldi's March of 1000 on Sicily to liberate it from the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and of the plebiscite for the unification of Italy under the House of Savoy, and 1861, The Leopard is ostensibly the story of Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina,
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whose coat of arms contains the leopard of the title. Superficially, it is a "novel of manners", since a good part of the book is a detailed description of the life of the Sicilian nobility at this time--the vapidness of the upper classes, their courtships, their prejudices, their obsession with correct behavior and status.

But it is far more than that. Don Fabrizio who in many ways is a typical Sicilian nobleman in his attitude towards land and money, towards tradition and the rising bourgeoisie, is also an anomaly. He is a physically imposing man, vital, full of energy, with physical characteristics that mark him as more leonine than leopard. He is a scientist, an astronomer, who has his own observatory and delights in spending hours tracking comets, observing the planets and stars and calculating of orbits. He, far more than others of his class, intuitively sees what the Risorgimento and the new, northern government will change--and what will NOT happen. He has an instinct for Sicily itself and knows that external forces can not possibly counteract the land itself:

"I've explained myself badly; I said Sicilians, I should have added Sicily, the atmosphere. the climate, the landscape of Sicily. those are the forces which have formed our minds together with and perhaps more than the foreign dominations and ill-assorted rapes; this landscape which knows no mean between sensuous slackness and hellish drought; which is never petty, never ordinary, never relaxed, as a country made for rational beings to live in should be..."

Yet despite the resistance of the land and the people, change is coming to the nobility, and Don Fabrizio sees it clearly. His nephew Tancredi is heir to a famous estate, but is penniless, thanks to recklessness on the part of his immediate ancestors. Tancredi conveniently falls in love with Angelica, daughter of the wealthy merchant and now landlord, Don Calogero Saldara. The petit bourgouisie at its worst--scenes at the Salina castle and at a Christmas party given by another noble family make it clear that there is an abyss between the two classes that money itself will never bridge. The House of Salina is old, very old; the house of Soldara will never cover the distance in time and experience.

Yet, Don Fabrizio sees that even the nobility will become degraded. As he is dying, he looks at his grandson Fabrizietto

"...with his good-time instincts, with his tendency to middle-lass chic. It was useless to try to avoid the thought, but the last of the Salinas was really himself, this gaunt giant now dying on a hotel balcony. for the significance of a noble family lies entirely in its traditions, that is in its vital memories; and he was the last to have any unusual memories andy different from those of other families. Fabrizietto would only have banal ones like his schoolfellows, of snacks, of spiteful jokes against teachers, horses bought with an eye more to price than to quality; and the meaning of his name would change more and more to empty pomp embittered by the gadfly thought that others could do him in outward show."

At first the end seems to be superfluous, anticlimactic. The Prince has died over 20 years before. But it is only in the final paragraphs that the reign of The Leopard comes to an end.

The writing in this book is incredibly powerful. There are scenes that amaze in their evocative description, such as the one towards the end of a ball depicting the family as the party comes to an end. There is nearly an entire chapter that describes the way Tancredi and Angelica spend hours each day alone exploring the Salina castle--dusty rooms, forgotten suites--with the rising sexual tension between them. The death of the Prince is a stunning tour de force.

Di Lampedusa was himself a prince, and he wrote the book using his paternal great-grandfather as the model for Don Fabrizio. Finished in 1957, he died before the manuscript was published in 1958. The Leopard quickly became a classic of international literature; its fascination and power seem likely to endure.

Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member edella
I think this may be the nearest thing to a perrfect novel. It's set in Sicily around the time of the '100 days' - the beginning of Garibaldi's campaign to unite Italy (and extend the franchise along the way). The central character is an aging aristocrat. He is at once admirable, contemptible and
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pitiable. He is more aware than his peers that the power of his class is crumbling, along with his own previously formidable powers. His loyalty - to his family, his class, and a king whom he personally despises - dominates his actions, even while he knows the inevitability of failure. Yet his personal relations with his family are distant.
The book is a great work of art. Much is understated, implied, ambiguous. The revolution has bittersweet consequences: it is obvious what was gained, but something was lost (the author was also a count). So much is said in so few words. Occasionally the peaks of human artistry inspire awe: how can a person do this? This is such a peak.
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LibraryThing member rmaitzen
My rating is a work in progress. The novel kept doing things I didn't expect (like a long monologue by a priest to a mostly sleeping audience?!). At this point I found it more interesting than likable, but I'm expecting that to change as I take some time to think about it.
LibraryThing member Oregonreader
The Leopard is set in Sicily in the 1860's, around the time a united Italy was formed. The plot involves events in the lives of Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, and his family, set against a backdrop of revolution and the collapse of the old aristocracy. I read this in translation so my comments reflect
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that rather than the original Italian but the language is breathtaking. When Fabrizio walks into a room in the palace, the reader follows his eyes as they take in every detail and hear his reflections on the history of the objects there. There is such a strong sense of place. I was fascinated with his description of the Sicilian character. When a representative of the new national government asks him to join the Senate, describing all the improvements that will be coming to Sicily, Fabrizio declines, explaining that Sicilians don't want improvements. "They are coming to teach us good manners...But they won't succeed because we think we are gods." The story of his family is simple: love, marriage, jealousy, death, all seen through the old man's eyes and filtered through his understanding of the collapse around him. This is a marvelous book.
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LibraryThing member WilfGehlen
Don Fabrizio / abed with Princess Stella / Gesummaria!

The The Leopard is structured not so much as a novel but as a still life. Lampedusa describes each scene with the eye of an accountant: there, in Concetta's room, a high bed with four pillows, a money chest with dozens of drawers, portraits,
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watercolors, sacred images on the wall, four enormous wooden cases containing dozens of shirts, sheets of best and second-best quality. The Sicilians who inhabit these scenes are, but they do not. Life happens around them, they, like a dog sleeping in the shade cast by a blazing Sicilian sun.

It is as though Lampedusa had discovered a vintage room in a museum, or in an ancestor's house, reporting its image in excruciating detail, meanwhile investing it with a population of his imagination. The setting is Garibaldi's Sicilian campaign and its aftermath, but it really doesn't matter--nothing changes for Don Fabrizio or his family. The Don sees in himself the end of the line of Leopards but that has little to do with external forces and everything to do with the diminished capacity of the next generation. He positions himself well with the new regime, he maintains his estates and his prestige (both somewhat reduced). He does not have to partition his almond grove, like the Pirrones, or part with his cherry orchard, like Chekhov's Ranevsky. There is a new day dawning in Sicily, but it is no different than yesterday.

The unifying character throughout The Leopard is Bendico, the Great Dane, who appears on the first page and is finally well disposed on the last page. His arc has a 45-year denouement, well befitting the Sicilian life. Like a dog. Indeed.
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LibraryThing member iansales
I saw the Visconti film adaptation of this back in October 2013, and liked it enough to think it worth reading the novel on which it was based. Which is, according to Wikipedia, “considered one of the most important novels in modern Italian literature”. The story takes place in the 1860s on
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Sicily, during the unification of Italy. It’s about the Salina family, particularly the head of the family, Prince Fabrizio, who represents the old order, and his nephew and putative heir, Prince Tancredi, who first joins Garibaldi’s Redshirts and then the army of the king of Sardinia (who goes onto become king of Italy). While the family is holidaying in their palace at Donnafugata, Tancredi meets Angelica, daughter of the local mayor (a successful and corrupt local landowner), and marries her. When Fabrizio is asked to join the new kingdom’s senate, he refuses and recommends the mayor, as he considers him more in tune with the coming times. There’s a Lawrentian atmosphere to much of The Leopard – especially when Prince Fabrizio goes hunting while at Donnafugata – but it’s also a much more political novel than anything Lawrence wrote. Now I want to watch the film again.
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LibraryThing member FPdC
The portuguese translation of the italian classic Il Gattopardo. A great book!
LibraryThing member LauGal
This is a dense but worthwhile read. Excellent character development.The author, wrote of his great grandfather, a Prince, during the turbulent times of 1860's Sicily.
In some parts of the book,you cannot put it down,other parts fo the book,are just slow. But,the final 2 sections of the book are
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worth it all.
If you like historical fiction,or Italian history,you will probably like this book.
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LibraryThing member kidzdoc
This was a disappointing and tedious novel about a powerful Sicilian family during the last days of the Risorgimento, when the unification of the states and kingdoms of present day Italy took place. None of the characters, including the main one, Don Fabrizio, held my interest for long, and the
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book was filled with petty squabbles, men who lusted after everyone except their own spouses, and innumerable class and power struggles. I may not have been in the proper frame of mind to fully appreciate it, but I doubt that I'll give it a second chance.
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LibraryThing member albertgoldfain
One of the author's only works of fiction, and surely somewhat autobiographical. I knew very little about the Risorgimento and the birth of Italy, so this gives good context to some of the statues of Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele. Unfortunately, it is very character driven and, since not all of
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the characters are essential to the plot, it drags somewhat.
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LibraryThing member John
The Leopard tells the story of a Sicilian Prince, Don Fabrizio, in the 1860s-1880s; a time of great change in Italian history (Garibaldi) and significant shifts in society. This is the story of how the Prince handles that change as he sees his world being eclipsed by a new one. He mourns the
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passing of the former, but is astute enough to know that he cannot turn aside the latter, and also astute enough to know when not to try to play roles unsuited for him, as when the government asks him to be a senator to Rome for Sicily. Don Fabrizio is a man of considerable influence, but even that begins to wane as he sees the great wealth of the landed aristocracy supplanted by the new wealth of those more attuned to modern business and modern thinking. But he also sensitive to the ephemeral nature of life and love, because he has seen, and experienced, so much of it himself. I always recalled the chapter describing the Princes' death as wonderful, and re-reading it, I was not disappointed, but there is a terrible poignancy as the Prince reflects that:

He was making up a general balance sheet of his whole life, trying to sort out of the immense ash-heap of liabilities the golden flecks of happy moments.

And these are few:

He summed up. ‘I'm seventy-three years old. And all in all I may have lived, really lived a total of two...three at the most'. And the pains, the boredom, how long had they been? Useless to try to make himself count those; all of the rest: seventy years.

This is a fine, well written, sensitive novel about the transience of life against the evolution and shift of society.
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
Lampedusa's only novel, which is a shame. Dry, clever, though one feels always a step or two away from the heat of the action.
LibraryThing member sanas
It is a wonderful book that recreates beautifully a world that no longer exists by someone who was part of that world. The characters are so vividly portrayed and with such detail that you feel, while reading, that you have known the various characters for a long time. I highly recommend it. I have
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read it several times and always keep a copy in my library.
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LibraryThing member mariamarthe
A very rich book, in every sense of the word. the author evokes time and place with masterful strokes, and the book lingers in the mind like a strong perfume.
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