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The Leopard (1958)

by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,1891211,442 (4.09)417
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.
  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 417 mentions

English (84)  Italian (11)  Dutch (6)  Spanish (5)  French (4)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
So many of my friends on GR love this and I don't want to finish it. I dislike the stodgy writing style, the story is very obscure unless one knows far more than I do about the local politics of the period. Wooden characters which aren't well captured. I have no mind's eye view of any of them. It's impossible to warm to any of the characters.

Generally speaking I don't go for the line that if I don't like a book in translation that means the translation is bad, but here I do wonder if it's the case.

At any rate, I've been stuck between two books making me miserable and both are getting the flick. I'm moving on. I did read 100 pages or more, so I gave it a decent trot. The second star is for the odd nice line that perked me up...for brief unsustainable periods. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
So many of my friends on GR love this and I don't want to finish it. I dislike the stodgy writing style, the story is very obscure unless one knows far more than I do about the local politics of the period. Wooden characters which aren't well captured. I have no mind's eye view of any of them. It's impossible to warm to any of the characters.

Generally speaking I don't go for the line that if I don't like a book in translation that means the translation is bad, but here I do wonder if it's the case.

At any rate, I've been stuck between two books making me miserable and both are getting the flick. I'm moving on. I did read 100 pages or more, so I gave it a decent trot. The second star is for the odd nice line that perked me up...for brief unsustainable periods. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Magnificently written and translated. Somewhat dated style, lacks the pace and immediacy of modern novels. ( )
  neal_ | Apr 10, 2020 |
This Italian literature classic portrays the life and thoughts of the author's great-grandfather, Prince Don Fabrizio Salina (The Leopard), as he presides over a dying Sicilian aristocracy. Characters include his nephew, Tancredi Falconeri; his wife, Princess Maria Stella Salina; his priest, Father Pirrone; Tancredi's father-in-law, Don Calogero Sedara; and his dog, Bendico. ( )
  baughga | Mar 14, 2020 |
The other reviews are more insightful. I'll just add that I kept thinking about The Godfather, in particular the scenes when Michael is sent to Sicily. And maybe how little changed from in that century. ( )
  jklavanian | Mar 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (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 (36 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
Colquhoun, 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
Wis, RobertoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.'
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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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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.
(piopas)
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.
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