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Letters from London and Europe [Hardcover]

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2010
"The Leopard", published posthumously in 1958, was one of the most important works of fiction to appear in the Italian language in the twentieth century. Between 1925 and 1930, its author, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, wrote a number of letters to his cousins Casimiro and Lucio Piccolo in which he describes his travels around Europe (London, Paris, Zurich, Berlin). The letters, here published for the first time, display much of Lampedusa's distinctive style present in his later work; not only the razor sharp introspection, but also a wicked sense of humor, playful in its description of the comedie humaine. United and underpinned by the genre of the novel, Lampedusa's lifetime obsession, some letters also read like excerpts from a Stendhalian travel journal, whilst others are pickwickian adventures populated with comic, exaggerated personalities.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books Ltd (1 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846881110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846881114
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 519,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'These witty dispatches from an indolent aristocrat abroad are a real joy... More than half a century after his death, Lampedusa has pulled off the characteristically insouciant coup of writing a brilliant travel book by accident.' -- The Observer

'The reading of Lampedusa's travel correspondence brings to light a draft, an essay of a certain voice, a first glimpse of that certain identifiable mixture of tenderness, wisdom and irony that became Lampedusa's incomparable style.' -- The Spectator

'For anyone who admires The Leopard, this volume is a sheer delight, bringing the attractively languid and arcane personality of Lampedusa into vivid perspective. If you have not read The Leopard, do so; It will not disappoint. That book and these letters were written by a man with the deep soul of an Old European, who was wise and witty.' -- The Lady

'[Lampedusa]'s letters frequently suggest the growing pains of a literary genius, and his observations were nice reflections of the human comedy.' -- The Scotsman

'This selection of letters home during 1920s travels gathers much finely atmospheric writing.' --The Independent

"This selection of [Lampedusa]'s letters ... gathers much brilliantly atmospheric writing from the future novelist, who embellishes as much as he reports." --The Independent

"We should be grateful for the letters that, having survived and been translated into English, paint a vivid picture of the country Lampedusa would have loved to call his own." --Standpoint

About the Author

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Duke of Palma and Prince of Lampedusa, was born in Palermo, Sicily in 1896. Other than three articles that appeared in an obscure Italian journal in 1926-27, Lampedusa was unpublished in his own lifetime. He began The Leopard, his only novel, in 1954, at the age of 58. When he died aged 61 in 1957, the completed manuscript for The Leopard had received only rejections from publishers.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By bobbygw
Famous for his 20th century classic, The Leopard: Revised and with new material (Vintage Classics) - and Visconti's wonderfully evocative film of the name, The Leopard [1963] [DVD], with Burt Lancaster - this slim collection of Lampedusa's letters, mostly to his two cousins, is a delicious, quirky and charming epistolary treat.

Quirky, because his deep learning typically combined with his often scatological, irreverent and boyish humour - most notably, there are some very funny letters written in the style of a proprietor of numerous models of high-quality testicles to gentlemen in such need. And the fact that he referred to himself in his letters in the third person, as The Monster, because of his voluminous appetite for reading; the title was given to him by his cousin and poet, Lucio Piccolo, one of the recipients of the letters.

Lampedusa was a deeply cultured man, loving - and being immersed in - literature ancient, medieval and modern, especially Italian, English and French. (He wrote a 1,000-page study of English Literature, published in 1990-1991 by the Italian firm Mondadori; he also wrote an incomplete, densely handwritten 500 pages for an intended follow-up study of French literature.) He also loved going to the cinema - he's insightful, for example, about King Vidor's The Crowd - loved architecture, and enjoyed bespoke, quality-made clothes.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was a Sicilian aristocrat who wrote only one novel, The Leopard: Revised and with new material (Vintage Classics)(a 20th century classic), and even that was published one year after his death (he died in 1957). However, The Leopard has now sold over three million copies, and is a set-text on many literature courses. Clearly the Prince of Lampedusa, Duke of Palma did something right!

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was a shy and reticent man who spoke little and people who knew him were surprised at how erudite he became in his writing. He married a Latvian woman who he lived apart from for a large part of their marriage (in large part because of difficulties between his mother and his new wife), but with whom he had a rich and lengthy written correspondence (about 400 letters still survive).

In view of di Lampedusa's history it is difficult to understand how he managed to write The Leopard, the story of what might be called a full-blooded alpha male of expansive appetites. However, he gained a wide experience of life through his army service, his experience of political instability and subsequent travels.

Most of the letters in this book are addressed to the Piccolo cousins, Casimiro and Lucio, and were written between 1925 and 1930, a period of time when Lampedusa travelled extensively in Britain and Europe. In his introduction to the book, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi writes, "they are composed in the same sparkling style as their conversation".

The letters themselves show the same under-stated humour as Lampedusa brought to The Leopard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden insights into the author of The Leopard 16 Feb 2011
This is a really charming and delightful collection of informal family letters written by Lampedusa, a splendidly urbane author who like many others was only recognised and published, with the great The Leopard, after his death with only a clutch of rejection notes to show for his work. The Leopard was rescued by Feltrinelli and made into a equally great movie, and now Mondadori has published these letters recounting Lampedusa's travels around Europe (and especially his beloved UK) in the late 1920s. They have been translated into English by J G Nichols and published here by Alma. Lampedusa records his experiences as a well-heeled aristocratic but gently inquiring visitor, including such gems as his first visit to the talkies, his contacts with elite connoisseurs, and the quality of Savile Row tailoring, teases his cousins for their failures to reply and for their divergent activities (and sexuality), and throws in the occasional indecent but amusing aside as one might in family correspondence. A highly enjoyable read.
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