The Leopard (with a Memory and two Stories)

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9780002714679: The Leopard (with a Memory and two Stories)

The Sicilian prince, Don Fabrizio, hero of Lampedusa's great and only novel, is described as enormous in size, in intellect, and in sensuality. The book he inhabits shares his dimensions in its evocation of an aristocracy confronting democratic upheaval and the new force of nationalism. In the decades since its publication shortly after the author's death in 1957, The Leopard has come to be regarded as the twentieth century's greatest historical fiction.

Introduction by David Gilmour; Translation by Archibald Colquhoun

(Book Jacket Status: Not Jacketed)

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Review:

The Leopard is set in Sicily in 1860, as Italian unification is coming violently into being, but it transcends the historical-novel classification. E.M. Forster called it, instead, "a novel which happens to take place in history." Lampedusa's Sicily is a land where each social gesture is freighted with nuance, threat, and nostalgia, and his skeptical protagonist, Don Fabrizio, is uniquely placed to witness all and alter absolutely nothing. Like his creator, the prince is an aristocrat and an astronomer, a man "watching the ruin of his own class and his own inheritance without ever making, still less wanting to make, any move toward saving it." Far better to take refuge in the night skies.

What renders The Leopard so beautiful, and so despairing, is Lampedusa's grasp of human frailty and his vision of Sicily's arid terrain--"comfortless and irrational, with no lines that the mind could grasp, conceived apparently in a delirious moment of creation; a sea suddenly petrified at the instant when a change of wind had flung waves into frenzy." Though the author had long had the book in mind, he didn't begin writing it until he was in his late 50s. He died at 60, soon after it was rejected as unpublishable.

Archibald Colquhoun's lyrical translation also contains 70 more precious pages of Lampedusa--a memoir, a short story, and the first chapter of a novel. In "Places of My Infancy" the author warns that "the reader (who won't exist) must expect to be led meandering through a lost Earthly Paradise. If it bores him. I don't mind." Luckily, the reader does exist; even more luckily, boredom is not an option.

From the Inside Flap:

Introduction by David Gilmour; Translation by Archibald Colquhoun

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Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Published by The Harvill Press (1988)
ISBN 10: 0002714671 ISBN 13: 9780002714679
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Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Published by The Harvill Press (1988)
ISBN 10: 0002714671 ISBN 13: 9780002714679
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