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The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

The Leopard (1958)

by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,7261121,473 (4.1)410
  1. 70
    Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (roby72)
  2. 40
    The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (Rebeki)
    Rebeki: 19th-century Europe, mourning of a lost era
  3. 30
    Swann's Way by Marcel Proust (chrisharpe)
  4. 41
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (Eustrabirbeonne)
  5. 41
    The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: These two books have a fair bit in common, though much is different between them too. They both are set in Italy and are concerned with court and family life, with politics, and the state of the country at the time they were written. The Charterhouse is set mainly in the north, around Milan, Parma, and Lake Como, near the Swiss border, in the first half of the 19th Century. The Leopard is set in the South, much of it in Sicily, starting over halfway through the 19th Century and ending in the next one. Stendhal writes dramatically about adventures and high emotions, whereas Lampedusa is far less baroque about it and writes with greater reserve and elegance. Together these books complement each other and give the reader a reasonably balanced view of Italian life over around a 100 years. Readers are likely to prefer one book over the other, but I am sure that if they enjoyed one they are very likely to enjoy the other. There are passages in the Charterhouse that outshine the best in the Leopard, but I prefer the latter due to it being nearer to perfection when taken as a whole.… (more)
  6. 20
    Bomarzo by Manuel Mujica Lainez (pacocillero)
    pacocillero: Nos dous casos son mundos en decadencia aínda que con varios séculos de diferencia.
  7. 10
    Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: A Biography Through Images by Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi (rvdm61)
  8. 21
    Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi (defaults)
  9. 21
    Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (JamesAbdulla)
  10. 21
    The Viceroys by Federico De Roberto (roby72)
  11. 00
    Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son by William Alexander Percy (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: Two elegies to disappearing elites and the societies they led.
  12. 01
    The Stone Boudoir: Travels Through the Hidden Villages of Sicily by Theresa Maggio (marieke54)
    marieke54: Among those old villages: the inhabited remnants and replacements of Santa Margherita di Belice,(< earthquake 1968), Lampedusa's village. The other villages are like what St. M. once was.
  13. 01
    Shakespeare by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Eustrabirbeonne)
  14. 13
    The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles (Eustrabirbeonne)

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» See also 410 mentions

English (78)  Italian (11)  Dutch (6)  French (5)  Spanish (4)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
There is an almost suffocating poetic distillation in The Leopard's great bulk; there is a surfeit of language so beautiful it is obscene throughout most of the novel. Then during the concluding two chapters, the focus skips ahead to confront and then embrace. These staggered forwards are somewhat clumsy. The structure does emit a few creaks. The "livid dust" by which he novel concludes is sublime -- as are the resonant images which Lampedusa sprinkles to his countless readers. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Another 1001-book I listened to. This one was much better than the Lessing book.
What intrigued me most was the description of how 'The Leopard' felt when his days were counted. For some strange reason it made me curious, if this description could be true.

What puzzled me, was why the last chapter of the book waz added. It felt like a kibd of appendix, not really contributuon anything to the book, except more pages. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Feb 16, 2019 |
The Leopard strings together a series of wonderful scenes and images while reflecting ironically on the shift in power from the old Sicilian aristocracy to the new bourgeoisie after the Italian risorgimento. It has a mood of quiet contemplation, even sadness, as massive social and political changes gently overturn the lives of its central characters. Don Fabrizio is the last Prince Salina, though he knows his time has come. He is a man of the old world, with its families, traditions, biases and connections. The new world, he knows, is a world where tradition means little, but crass new ways of making money are the future. He sees the follies of his class, and retreats to the science of astronomy to get away from them. Yet he is part of that class, and not of the new world.
Being a man of vision and appetite, Fabrizio supports his favourite nephew, the charismatic Tancredi, in marrying Angelica, the beautiful daughter of the ambitious peasant who is rising in the new world. Although Fabrizio despises her father, he dotes on Angelica both for her physical beauty and for the manners she has learned at a finishing school in Naples. She and Tancredi will lead the Salina family into the new world while the older folks fade away. Fabrizio is smart enough to turn down a position in the new Senate and recommend Angelica’s father in his place.
And the old rulers fade away into senility, decrepitude and death. The scenes of Fabrizio’s sisters fighting and trying to protect their collection of holy relics from the new rules of the church are tragi-comic. But the death of Fabrizio is slow and sad, as he falls ill on a long train ride returning from Naples back to his home in Sicily. Unable to make it home, his family stops to rest in a hotel, where he hears the birds on the beach and feels the sea breezes before losing consciousness.
Giuseppe di Lampedusa, who comes from the same class as Fabrizio and wrote the novel as a sort of homage to his grandfather, describes the loss of the old ways, but he doesn’t romanticize them. He notes Fabrizio’s disgust when he has to meet with his smelly tenants, and Fabrizio locks his long-time hunting companion with the dogs when Fabrizio gives him information that he doesn’t want out too early. He rationalizes his visits to his mistress and brings along his priest for cover. His sensuality comes through in his admiration for Angelica, as well as in the food at his table. The dessert castle that his family eats away at, and the macaroni he serves to guests at his family estate are wonderful images. They fit into the satirical depiction of the elegant Sicilian aristocracy, which reminded me of the ironic dialogues and superficial characters of a Jane Austin novel.
Irony runs through the whole novel. While understanding that the change of class is inevitable, Fabrizio sees the unification plebiscite as a farce. Everyone votes in favour because the alternative is worse, but no one supports it, and the votes are fraudulently counted, bringing the Italian nation into a fraudulent existence. The novelist describes two long, difficult trips in the stifling heat of southern Italy, representing perhaps the difficult transitions that Italy faces as it changes from the old ruling class to the new.
And in spite of the change in the ruling class, nothing really changes – the agricultural aristocracy is replaced by middle-class landowners who continue to exploit the working peasantry. And while I felt a little sadness at the passing of an intelligent and memorable figure, it’s clear that his time has passed, and who can really live in an agricultural feudalism besides the princes? But perhaps the greater regret is that it has passed to a crass and materialistic new layer. The nouveau riche will bring Italy into the industrial age, so it’s not quite right to say that nothing has changed. But inequality and exploitation remain, whether under the elegance of the aristocracy or the cruder arts of the new ruling class. ( )
  rab1953 | Feb 8, 2019 |
the writing felt pretty overwrought and ornate, much like the rooms at Donnafugata in Sicily where most of the action takes place. i wasn't particularly moved by Fabrizio's decline or by the political machinations of Garibaldi. still, there were moments of genuinely pretty writing (in translation from the italian) and i learnt some fun new words, like "caryatid" and "catafalque". ( )
  haarpsichord | Nov 5, 2018 |
This novel focuses on how members of the Sicilian nobility deal with the radical changes happening to Italy as a result of Garibaldi. Its value comes from putting you into the minds of people whose world is changing for the worse from their perspective. As such, it is a very melancholy book. ( )
  M_Clark | Sep 12, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (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.
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 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.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Spectator, E Forster
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 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.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe New Yorker, Edmund Wilson
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 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.
added by SnootyBaronet | editBookforum, Wendy Lesser

» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tomasi di Lampedusa, Giuseppeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aas, NilsIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alexanderson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barreiros, José ColaçoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Birnbaum, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Codignoto, LeonardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colqhoun, ArchibaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gutiérrez, FernandoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holder, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meli, RodolfoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norum, Anna MargretheTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Romein-Hütschler, J.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trevelyan, RaleighIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuulio, TyyniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
'Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.'
Attribuire ad altri la propria infelicità è l'ultimo ingannevole filtro dei disperati.
He was sitting on a bench, inertly watching the devastation wrought by Bendicò in the flower beds; every now and again the dog would turn innocent eyes toward him as if asking for praise at labor done: fourteen carnations broken off, half a hedge torn apart, an irrigation canal blocked. How human! "Good! Bendicò, come here." And the animal hurried up and put its earthy nostrils into his hand, anxious to show that it had forgiven this silly interruption of a fine job of work.
The Prince was too experienced to offer Sicilian guests, in a town of the interior, a dinner beginning with soup, and he infringed the rules of haute cuisine all the more readily as he disliked it himself.
He began looking at a picture opposite him, a good copy of Greuze’s Death of the Just Man; the old man was expiring on his bed, amid welters of clean linen, surrounded by afflicted grandsons and granddaughters raising arms toward the ceiling. The girls were pretty, provoking, and the disorder of their clothes suggested sex more than sorrow; they, it was obvious at once, were the real subject of the picture.
Many problems that had seemed insoluble to the Prince were resolved in a trice by Don Calogero; free as he was from the shackles imposed on many other men by honesty, decency, and plain good manners, he moved through the jungle of life with the confidence of an elephant which advances in a straight line, rooting up trees and trampling down lairs, without even noticing scratches of thorns and moans from the crushed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Isbn 8820114313 contains only Il gattopardo; the reference to La strega e il capitano comes from an Amazon's error.
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Book description
Don Fabrizio, principe di Salina, all'arrivo dei Garibaldini, sente inevitabile il declino e la rovina della sua classe. Approva il matrimonio del nipote Tancredi, senza più risorse economiche, con la figlia, che porta con sé una ricca dote, di Calogero Sedara, un astuto borghese. Don Fabrizio rifiuta però il seggio al Senato che gli viene offerto, ormai disincantato e pessimista sulla possibile sopravvivenza di una civiltà in decadenza e propone al suo posto proprio il borghese Calogero Sedara.
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.
Haiku summary

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:43 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Set in the 1860's, The Leopard tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution. The dramatic sweep and richness of observation, the seamless intertwining of public and private worlds, and the grasp of human frailty imbue The Leopard with its particular melancholy beuty and power, and place it among the great historical novels of our time.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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