A colleague and I have been raving to each other about our love – yes, LOVE! – for The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa, and concocting plots to get people reading it – not that terribly plottish though – so far we have displayed the book prominently and let favoured customers in on the secret.
Set in the 1860s, “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 beauty and power, and place it among the greatest historical novels of our time. Although Giuseppe di Lampedusa had long had the book in mind, he began writing it only in his late fifties; he died at age sixty, soon after the manuscript was rejected as unpublishable. As the New York Times Review of Books says “The genius of its author and the thrill it gives the reader are probably for all time.”
This is what our other Leopardophile has to say:
This book beautifully captures turbulent political change in Italy’s unification – yet the way it is captured, through the sun raked and deeply traditional Sicily, through fading memories and beauty, through the brute force of modernism, is spell-binding. At the heart of The Leopard is the titular, sleeping giant that is Don Fabrizio – it is through his eyes that we witness this shifting of worlds. Don Fabrizio sees the change coming, but he is deeply attached to the past, to the unchanging stars above, to gentle philosophy and his class-bound responsibilities. But continuity of his family’s influence means that “everything must change, so that everything can stay the same”, it may mean the death of nobility, of his beliefs. Don Fabrizio’s navigation through and reflection on the unfolding events is beautiful, arresting, and will transform some small part of the reader’s mind into the illusory landscape of The Leopard’s Sicily.
Who knew? – we are indeed everywhere – another colleague just saw what I was blogging about and started raving about how much he loves this book. He didn’t know about Visconti’s stunning opulent 1963 film of the same name – one of the best translations from book to film ever, Martin Scorsese thinks it is just one of the best films ever!
So, should all our booksellery plotting continue, all Dunedin will be reading and watching leopards…