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The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
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The Leopard (original 1958; edition 2010)

by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, Archibald Colquhoun (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,577791,474 (4.1)294
Member:Chatterbox
Title:The Leopard
Authors:Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
Other authors:Archibald Colquhoun (Translator)
Info:Harvill Secker (2010), Edition: Limited cenetenary ed, Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, In Translation, Audiobook

Work details

The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa (1958)

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» See also 294 mentions

English (58)  Italian (6)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
The Leopard is a historical novel about a time of transition in Italy, or really, about the time of transition in which Italy came into existence, since previously the area had been the home of several separate kingdoms. The book starts in 1860 when Garibaldi has landed in Sicily with his volunteers to ultimately conquer the area and unify Italy. Our main character is Don Fabrizio, prince of Salina in Sicily. Through him, we learn about the nature of Sicily and the Sicilian people, as well as the ramifications a united Italy will have on the class structure of the island, and by extension, the rest of the new country.

If you're looking for details of the movement that resulted in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies becoming part of the country of Italy, you'll need to look elsewhere. The novel has a short explanatory intro that gives the highlights, but the events in the novel itself are filtered through the events on the island, with Prince Fabrizio as a stand-in for both the people of Sicily and the reigning upper class. Although I was interested in the story, the structure didn't work for me. The scope is sweeping, covering some 50 years. Perhaps because of that, di Lampedusa chose to have each chapter jump ahead by a few months at a time at first, then by years (sometimes decades). So much of the action happened "offscreen," so to speak, that I felt almost completely disconnected from the characters by the middle. On the other hand, apparently di Lampedusa wrote to a friend that the dog was an extremely important character, so maybe I was simply looking in the wrong places. I did, however, get a real sense of the personality of southern Italy.

Recommended for: those interested in a more intimate view of history, people who are visiting southern Italy ( )
  ursula | Apr 27, 2014 |
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.
  rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
Like the author's name, this novel conveys a stately sense of Old World grace and detachment from the frenzy of contemporary trivialities. That's not to say the world of THE LEOPARD lacks a sense of irony or awareness of it's own corruptions. The Sicilian Prince of Salina, the title character, has both compassion and contempt for his fellow human beings no less than for himself amid the lapses of morality that define their lives. He sees the 19th-century aristocratic era passing away with regret as well as relief, finding himself unable to play a new role in the course of events.

This novel is slow-paced but never failed to call me back to read on when I left it unvisited for days at a time. Not enough of a history buff to fully appreciate the factual backdrop of the era described, I nonetheless loved the sense that a wise individual was telling me a unique story from his own family history. The voice, the impeccable phrasing, just enough lovely description, and a human tragicomedy underlying it all--these made THE LEOPARD a special read that I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend to serious lovers of historical fiction. ( )
  AnesaMiller | Jan 17, 2014 |
I seem unable to give books anything other than 3 stars right now. This is War and Peace without the War crossed with Gray's Elegy in a country churchyard; there are tinges of sticky nostalgia but they're kept in control by a kind of fatalism or maybe realism in the narrator as much as in the characters. I think I'd be happier about the novel if I could rouse myself to care more for the Prince, but frankly he seems a bit too much like an unironic version of the beer commercial's Most Interesting Man In The World. And I don't mean he's like Hemingway. I mean he's almost divinely masculine. Too much. I watched the movie before reading the book, and maybe that's ruined it for me. It's a good movie, but I don't know. It made it all much fluffier than I suspect it's meant to be. So read the book first if you can. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
A historical novel, set in the time period of May, 1860 to May, 1910. The Bourbon state of Naples and Sicily is coming to an end. King Ferdinand II had just died and all of Italy is to be one state for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire. The story is of the Prince, Don Fabrizio, a Sicilian prince. He is the Leopard. He understands that life as he has known it is coming to an end and in his way, he takes his family through the change. He is facing the erosion of the class system by the peasants and shabby gentry. The election tells how though things change they really don't change and the common man is more disillusioned that he was under the former. The final chapters, Death of a Prince and Relics are really great commentaries. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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.
 

» Add other authors (71 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lampedusa, Giuseppe Diprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexanderson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colqhoun, ArchibaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meli, RodolfoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Romein-Hütschler, J.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuulio, TyyniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
Grateful acknowledgment is made to Principessa Alessandra di Lampedusa for her help in the translation. A.C.
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'Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.'
Quotations
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Attribuire ad altri la propria infelicità è l'ultimo ingannevole filtro dei disperati.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375714790, Paperback)

In Sicily in 1860, as Italian unification grows inevitable, the smallest of gestures seems dense with meaning and melancholy, sensual agitation and disquiet: "Some huge irrational disaster is in the making." All around him, the prince, Don Fabrizio, witnesses the ruin of the class and inheritance that already disgust him. His favorite nephew, Tancredi, proffers the paradox, "If we want things to stay as they are, they will have to change," but Don Fabrizio would rather take refuge in skepticism or astronomy, "the sublime routine of the skies."

Giuseppe di Lampedusa, also an astronomer and a Sicilian prince, was 58 when he started to write The Leopard, though he had had it in his mind for 25 years. E. M. Forster called his work "one of the great lonely books." What renders it so beautiful and so discomfiting is its creator's grasp of human frailty and, equally, 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." The author died at the age of 60, soon after finishing The Leopard, though he did live long enough to see it rejected as unpublishable.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Italian literary classic set in Sicily in 1860. A prince watches as unification grows.

(summary from another edition)

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