The Leopard by Tomasi Di Lampedusa

This is Probably the most well known Italian classic .It is a set text in Italian school I was told by Hersilla press the new Italian crime press .Tomasi  was the 11th prince of Lampedusa this was his only novel and was published after his death in the late fifties this was also made into a film by Visconti starring Burt Lancaster he loved the book and was dubbed into Italian for his performance as the Prince .

The book is based in Scilly in the YEAR 1860 and follows a real event and some real people mixed with fiction characters .The main character is the prince of salina ,he is faced with a huge change in his life as Garibaldi red shirts are en route to Scilly to bring it into the Italian unification movement as Giuseppe Garibaldi fought to topple the feudal system that was still part of Italy at the time .So we find a man facing a uncertain values in regards his place in society  but also a changing society round him .The course of the book follows the prince journey dealing with this travelling round the island meeting his mistress and his good friend Father Pirrone that gives him some wonderful advice with what to do about his future .

The old man looked at him with amazement ,he had wanted to know if the prince of Salina was satisfied or not with the latest changes ,and the other was talking to him about aphrodisiacs and light for Golgotha .all that reading driven him off his head poor man .

a section from chapter with Father Pirrone and the Prince talking .

The book has a highly personnel feel given Tomasi family history been from a royal family parts of this story must relate to his own ,Also I thing there is some connection to modern Italy at the time it was written ,just after the end of the second world war ,like the Italy of the 1860’s it was in a state of flux .The leopard is part of Tomasi own coat of arms ,The volume I have is the new Vintage edition that includes some separate pieces that were found after the book was published these include sonnets written by Don Fabrizio the prince these add to the book I like the fact that they haven’t been thrown in to the original text ,but the fact that Tomasi had written them and left them to maybe add at some point is wonderful .The book was originally meant to be an Italian version of Joyce’s Ulysses and set over a day but instead it is slices of time over the course of 1860’s .Now I can watch the film it was on over christmas but I left it as I want to read the book .May I also point out at no point was the Garibaldi biscuit mentioned I do wonder how his name got attached to this biscuit .This book was recently picked by our deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as his desert Island book .after reading I can see why it is a wonderfully written book that would stand numerous rereading .

Have you read this book ?

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teresa (Lovely Treez Reads)
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 13:43:02

    Surprisingly, this was not one of the set texts for either Italian A Level or my degree in Italian but I must make up for it now – thanks for the review Stu – so many books, eh? 🙂


  2. gavin
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 15:05:50

    Thanks, Stu. This has been on my TBR list forever. It is one I hope to read this year.


  3. Bookrambler
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 15:31:02

    So glad you liked this book too, Stu. Amro introduced me to it last year and it changed my view of what constitutes good literature – the writing is superb. I wonder what you thought of the translation, though? I blogged about the problems with the Vintage edition on bookrambler.


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 27, 2011 @ 15:46:12

      I remember the post ,It wasn’t the best. I ve seen a folio soceity copy at our book sale going look and see if that a different version ,it is worth its place as a modern classic to feel that good after just 50 years is great ,all the best stu


  4. Jessica
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 15:34:53

    I brought this a while ago and read the first chapter but then put it down again. There was nothing wrong with it but at the time I couldn’t cope with anything too heavy going. I did notice a documentry on 4od about the history and the food in the book if you are interested in that.


  5. Kinna
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 18:02:24

    Yet another all-time favorite book of mine! Your review makes me want to reread it again. And I agree, the book and its characters feel intimate, like we’ve lived with and known them all our lives.


  6. Kevin Faulkner
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 18:57:52

    One of my all-time favourite novels, always revoking fond memories of a holiday in Sicily. The Visconti film adaptation as others here mention, is sumptuous and well-worth checking out worth too.

    Glad you like CCR Stu, ‘Willy and the poor boys’ or any of the numerous Greatest hits albums are also worth hearing.


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 28, 2011 @ 12:19:41

      I look willy and the boys out ,I nearly watched the film when it was on last year going have to wait til its on tv again or I see a cheap dvd of it ,all the best stu


  7. mee
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 21:50:09

    A set text in Italian school! That’s it, I need to read it. Would be interested to compare the book with the movie too. Glad to know you liked it.


  8. Becky (Page Turners)
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 03:12:21

    I have always wanted to read this – but mainly because I heard the the descriptions of food in the book were mouth watering!


  9. amymckie
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 03:29:36

    Interesting sounding book Stu, I had never heard of it before. I must look it up now.


  10. Sarah
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 08:25:46

    A first edition of the English translation of this turned up at my local bookshop earlier this week. And I wouldn’t have thought anything of it had I not seen it in your ‘current reads.’ I hadn’t heard of it before, but the cover is very distinctive.

    I wonder if first editions of The Leopard will be more valuable in view of Nick Clegg’s endorsement? (Wouldn’t like to bet on it.) What would be more interesting would be to compare the relative quality of the translations.


  11. Tom C
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 08:30:55

    A nice review Stu. Yes, its a great book, full of local colour and describing events I knew little about. Glad you enjoyed it


  12. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 09:11:07

    “This is Probably the most well known Italian classic” and I haven’t heard of it before. lol. Thanks for telling me.


  13. Willa
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 10:26:01

    Thanks for reviewing this classic Stu, I have to read it soon!


  14. Violet
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 11:40:11

    Am putting this on my wishlist right now. Thanks for the enticing review. 🙂


  15. savidgereads
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 13:31:36

    Great review Stu, this has been on Mount TBR forever and seriously needs a read!


  16. Amanda
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 17:22:00

    I’m really excited to read this one! I only heard of it for the first time this year and I believe the only Italian classic I’ve read is The Inferno. I definitely need to read more!


  17. Crafty Green Poet
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 19:01:24

    I really enjoyed this book too, and the film is very faithful to the novel


  18. VerboCityMayor
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 22:49:08

    i wrote an appreciation of The Leopard in my blog.


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January 2011


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