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The Leopard is a story of a decadent and dying aristocracy threatened by the forces of revolution and democracy Set against the political u Last summer I actually got some good reading done I had been plagued with seeing The Leopard by Lampedusa in various bookstores in Italy but did not really know what it was about aside from the reunification of Italy in the late 19th C I read Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb and in the 4th chapter of that book he talked about the book and I was hooked I scoured about 4 bookstores in Sicily before finally finding a translation into French and I dove in headfirst What an incredible read I was blown away by the text itself the descriptions the limpidity of the language the subtlety of the conversations the disillusion of the central character Don Fabrizio Prince of Salinas and of course the gorgeous Angelica The book takes place during Garibaldi s invasion of Sicily he landed in Marsala in April of 1860 with 1086 men the Thousand and defeated the royalist army which had upwards of 20k troops on the island but rather at various locations where the Prince was staying and later dying near Palermo at Donnafugata The descriptions of the meals are enough to make you uit a diet and drive straight to the closest Italian restaurant It is sumptuous in every way The famous ball scene in Chapter 6 reminded me of the Bal Masu in Le Temps Retrouv Truly an incredible read It shows a depth of understanding of history politics and human nature that is melancholic but still with a glimmer of hope The characters of Don Fabrizio his chaplain Pere Pirrone were based directly on Lampedusa s own great grandfather and his priest The other characters were similarly anchored in a real person that lived through that period We see the year of 1860 pass month by month and then skip a couple of years forward The telescoping in time also works backwards when Don Fabrizio muses about events that had already transpired and what I found particularly great as well we have teasers about the future of various buildings that would be bombed during WWII and the future of various characters The central characters all have layers of depth to them which I found fascinating I loved Tancredi s swashbuckling attitude Angelica s seductive scheming and of course the disillusioned Prince All the minor characters are also drawn with a fine brush this short 400 word essay clearly does not do justice to this monument both of Italian literature Il Gattopardo is considered the greatest work of Italian literature in the 20th C and of the Italian language which translated marvellously into French By the way the animal gattopardo is actually not a leopard but a serval thanks Wikipedia The book is relatively short 295 pages so I would highly recommend adding it to your reading list It is one of the most evocative books on social differences during a period of political upheaval ever written up there with War and PeaceThe film of the same name by Visconti was released in 1962 barely 5 years after the book was published posthumously sadly for Lampedusa and is a masterpiece The colour the decor the casting Burt Lancaster is spellbinding as the Prince Alain Delon is a perfect Tancredi and the gorgeous Claudia Cardinale is fantastic as Angelica The film is three hours long but never boring in the least I felt that it was one of the most accurate word for word in many of the dialogues and speeches renditions of a book on the silver screen that I have ever seen The secondary characters also have so much life breathed into them Romolo Valli s Pere Pirrone is unforgettable as is Serge Reggiani s tragic Don Ciccio The film departs from the book in that it shows a few war scenes that are extremely well shot The locations for Donnafugata are unbelievable as is the house near Palermo Having spent 5 summers in Sicily I can say that the countryside and the towns were very faithfully represented here The most famous scene in the movie is the last 30 minutes and it is one of the most sumptuous realistic and remarkable sets I have ever seen The sea of moving bodies dancing the mountains of food the impeccable costumes and makeup you cannot help but ooh and ah out loud as you watch itI read the first third of the book watched the movie up to that point read the book up to the ball finished the movie and then finished the book and I was very happy to fully appreciate both The book actually has an additional two chapters that are not in the movie The story behind that is that when Lampedusa had first finished his book he sent the manuscript to a few publishers Two of the primary editors in Italy turned him down The first one he sent it to a draft missing two chapters he finished before sending to the other two was not read until 18 months later and it was subseuently published in 1957 Lampedusa had already passed away of lung cancer a few months earlier with the six chapters that had been sent originally It was not until 1969 that the final two chapters and a few fascinating insightful fragments were published All that to say that the final two chapters did not officially exist when Visconti did his screenplay

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Il Gattopardo

M Around this powerful figure swirls a glittering array of characters a Bourbon king liberals and pseudo liberals peasants and millionaires Any words of mine about this famous book would be superfluous so I thought I d just add some images to the beautiful opening paragraph NUNC ET IN hora mortis nostrae Amen The daily recital of the Rosary was over For half an hour the steady voice of the Prince had recalled the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries for half an hour other voices had interwoven a lilting hum from which now and again would chime some unlikely word love virginity death and during that hum the whole aspect of the rococo drawing room seemed to change even the parrots spreading iridescent wings over the silken walls appeared abashedeven the Magdalen between the two windows looked a penitent and not just a handsome blonde lost in some dubious daydream as she usually wasNow as the voices fell silent everything dropped back into its usual order or disorder Bendic the Great Dane grieved at exclusion came wagging its tail through the door by which the servants had leftThe women rose slowly to their feet their oscillating skirts as they withdrew baring bit by bit the naked figures from mythology painted all over the milky depths of the tiles Only an Andromeda remained covered by the soutane of Father Pirrone still deep in extra prayer and it was some time before she could sight the silvery Perseus swooping down to her aid and her kissThe divinities frescoed on the ceiling awoke The troops of Tritons and Dryads hurtling across from hill and sea amid clouds of cyclamen pink towards a transfigured Conca d Oro and bent on glorifying the House of Salina seemed suddenly so overwhelmed with exaltation as to discard the most elementary rules of perspective meanwhile the major Gods and Goddesses the Princes among Gods thunderous Jove and frowning Mars and languid Venus had already preceded the mob of minor deities and were amiably supporting the armorial shield of the Leopard They knew that for the next twenty three and a half hours they would be lords of the villa once again On the walls the monkeys went back to pulling faces at the cockatoosOf course I can t leave it at that I have to add a few words after all but really just a few An aspect of Giuseppe di Lampedusa s writing I really enjoyed was the way he gives life to inanimate objects so I was on the look out for other examples besides the ones in that extraordinary first paragraph But it was the arrival of two young men in love which really awoke the instincts lying dormant in the house and these now showed themselves everywhere like ants woken by the sun no longer poisonous but livelier than ever Even the architecture the rococo d cor itself evoked thoughts of fleshly curves and taut erect breasts and every opening door seemed like a curtain rustling in a bed alcoveAnd here s another one The two telescopes and three lenses were lying there uietly dazed by the sun with black pads over the eyepieces like well trained animals who knew their meal was only given them at nightEven death is endowed with sensuous life Suddenly amid the group appeared a young woman slim in brown travelling dress and wide bustle with a straw hat trimmed with a speckled veil which could not hide the sly charm of her face She slid a little su de gloved hand between one elbow and another of the weeping kneelers apologised drew closer It was she the creature for ever yearned for coming to fetch him strange that one so young should yield to him the time for the train s departure must be very close When she was face to face with him she raised her veil and there chaste but ready for possession she looked lovelier than she ever had when glimpsed in stellar space The crashing of the sea subsided altogetherCoincidently one of my other favourite passages is also associated with death and manages like the previous piece to be sensuous and serious at the same time the Prince liked Diego Ponteleone s library and soon felt at his ease there it did not oppose his taking possession for it was impersonal as are rooms little used Ponteleone was not a type to waste his time in there 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 by granddaughters raising arms towards the ceiling The girls were pretty and provoking and the disorder of their clothes suggested sex than sorrow they it was obvious at once were the real subject of the picture Even so Don Fabrizio was surprised for a second at Diego always having this melancholy scene before his eyes then he reassured himself by thinking that the other probably entered that room only once or twice a year Immediately afterwards he asked himself if his own death would be like that probably it would apart from the sheets being less impeccable he knew that the sheets of those in their death agony are always dirty with spittle ejections medicine marks and it was to be hoped that Concetta Carolina and his other women folk would be decently clad But the same or less As always the thought of his own death calmed him as much as that of others disturbed him was it perhaps because when all was said and done his own death would in the first place mean that of the whole worldA final few words there were interesting shifts in the narrative shifts which can make a reader dizzy thinking where am I what s going on here For example the episode where a tragic reference from the twentieth century is used to describe one of the many sensuality laden moments in this nineteenth century story It happens when the Prince s future niece in law Angelica sumptuous as that name from Ariosto who had recently disturbed the peace of the Salina household arrives in the palace after her surprising betrothal to his nephew Tancredi She sloughed off her father in the entrance hall then with a swirl of wide skirts floated lightly up the numerous steps of the inner staircase and flung herself into the arms of Don Fabrizio on his whiskers she implanted two big kisses which were returned with genuine affection the Prince paused perhaps just a second longer than necessary to breathe in the scent of gardenia on adolescent cheeks After this Angelica blushed took half a step back I m so so happy then came close again stood on tiptoe and murmured into his ear Nuncle a highly successful line comparable in its perfect timing to Eisenstein s business with the pram and which explicit and secret as it was set the Prince s simple heart aflutter and yoked him to the lovely girl for everEisenstein s business with the pram is the long scene from his film The Battleship Potemkin 1925 which shows a baby s pram careening down numerous steps during the Cossack massacre of civilians in OdessaFortunately there were other references that worked better for me than that one as when the Prince and his faithful gamekeeper trudge home after a day s shooting and the author chooses to travel back several centuries in search of a suitable reference to describe the scene As they climbed down towards the road it would have been difficult to tell which of the two was Don uixote and which Sancho PanzaPerfect

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa é 7 Summary

Pheavals of Italy in the 1860s it focuses on Don Fabrizio a Sicilian prince of immense sensual appetites wealth and great personal magnetis So the last shall be first and the first last for many be called but few chosen Matthew 2016 The Leopard is a novel about the first becoming last and the last firstPlants were growing in thick disorder on the reddish clay flowers sprouted in all directions and the myrtle hedges seemed put there to prevent movement rather than guide it At the end a statue of Flora speckled with yellow black lichen exhibited her centuries old charms with an air of resignation on each side were benches holding uilted cushions also of gray marble and in a corner the gold of an acacia tree introduced a sudden note of gaiety Every sod seemed to exude a yearning for beauty soon muted by languorAristocracy still enjoys luxury but the process of decline has already set in and it is irrevocableThe wealth of many centuries had been transmitted into ornament luxury pleasure no the abolition of feudal rights had swept away duties as well as privileges wealth like an old wine had let the dregs of greed even of care and prudence fall to the bottom of the barrel leaving only verve and color And thus eventually it cancelled itself out this wealth which had achieved its object was composed now only of essential oils and like essential oils it soon evaporatedThe book is full of light irony and it is written in a charming manner The author s observations are precise and sharpSimilar to floods that set afloat all the litter and trash revolutions raise to the surface all the opportunists timeservers and speculators who immediately hurry to leave everybody else behind and become the first

10 thoughts on “Il Gattopardo

  1. says:

    ”Among his friends Don Fabrizio was considered an “eccentric”; his interest in mathematics was taken almost as sinful perversion

  2. says:

    Last summer I actually got some good reading done I had been plagued with seeing The Leopard by Lampedusa in various bookstores in Italy but d

  3. says:

    lf we want things to stay as they are things will have to change May 1860 Garibaldi annexes Sicily to the still young Italy Don Fabrizio Prince of Salina nicknamed the leopard after the image on his coat of arms is a disillusioned

  4. says:

    468 ‎Il Gattopardo‬ The Leopard Giuseppe Tomasi di LampedusaPublished 1958Most of the novel is set during the time of t

  5. says:

    Back in 1958 Feltrinelli Editore in Milan brought out a historical novel by an obscure Palermitan aristocrat who had died only the previous y

  6. says:

    “So the last shall be first and the first last for many be called but few chosen” Matthew 2016 The Leopard is a novel about the first becoming last and the last firstPlants were growing in thick disorder on

  7. says:

    Any words of mine about this famous book would be superfluous so I thought I'd just add some images to the beautiful opening paragraph “NUNC ET IN hora mortis nostrae Amen” The daily recital of the Rosary was over For half an hour the steady voice of the Prince had recalled the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries; for half an hour oth

  8. says:

    Let's make one thing uite clear I do not in any way claim to be objective nor am I interested in ever being so On the contrary I delight in my o

  9. says:

    I read this great book many years ago but still can remember that superb atmosphere of long gone glory Everything is in decay a once proud aristocrat the leopard got old time overtook him Here his long life passes in review And in the end Well the book has one of the greatest and most melancholic endings ever Absolutely recommended A modern classic

  10. says:

    It was a garden for the blind a constant offence to the eyes a pleasure strong if somewhat crude to the nose The Paul Neyron roses