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The Leopard [Paperback]

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa , Archibald Colquhoun
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1996
In the spring of 1860, Fabrizio, the charismatic Prince of Salina, still rules over thousands of acres and hundreds of people, including his own numerous family, in mingled splendour and squalor.Then comes Garibaldi's landing in Sicily and the Prince must decide whether to resist the forces of change or come to terms with them.


Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The Harvill Press / Panther (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 186046145X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860461453
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 349,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Every once in a while, like certain golden moments of happiness, infinitely memorable, one stumbles on a book or a writer, and the impact is like an indelible mark. Lampedusa's The Leopard, his only novel, and a masterpiece, is such a work', Independent .'Perhaps the greatest novel of the century', L.P. Hartley, .'One of the great lonely books...not a historical novel, but a novel which happens to take place in history', E.M. Forster, .'The poetry of Lampedusa's novel flows into the Sicilian countryside...a work of great artistry', Peter Ackroyd, .'I was astounded by the power of the writing', Corin Redgrave, .'A great book', Observer .'Few novels in the last ten years have given me so much enjoyment', Sunday Times .'A novel of exceptional stature. One may claim for it classic status', Frank Kermode,

Book Description

This is the new, revised edition which includes recently discovered new material including letters and diary entries by the author and two additional sections of the novel.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Novel of the 20th Century? 24 Jan 2005
By S Hines
Format:Hardcover
Every once in a while you stumble upon a book so magical, so beautifully and carefully written and so engrossing that the boundaries of what you thought were great literature are so rendered pointless that you reassess your opinions on all of the books you have read before. Lampedusa's 'The Leopard' is one such book. It was on reading an interview with Martin Scorcese about the birth of the mafia in Scicily that the book was brought to my attention; it is with a huge debt of gratitude that I tracked it down and dove into its beautiful depths. Never has a book moved me and made me thirst for more as this. The central character, Fabrizio, is a masterful creation; in turns a swaggering relic of the past and pathetic and useless bulwark against the onslaught of modernity encapsulated by Garibaldi. The pathos which threads through the novel is perfectly mirrored by the knowledge that Lampedusa wrote no more than this; a tragedy, which qualifies this as the greatest novel of the 20th Century. If you love literature, life and great works of art, read this.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Clear Vision 24 May 2006
Format:Hardcover
The Leopard is a strange novel. It was the only book written and published by Giovanni Tomasi di Lampedusa, last scion of a decadent Sicilian noble family. He wrote it towards the end of an indolent life and didn't live to see it brought into the world by the publishing house, Feltrinelli. It doesn't have a plot; to recount what happens would make it sound like a biography leavened with social history. It is a book about an aristocrat by an aristocrat recalling the passing of an age of aristocracy, and yet one that would have made a lot of sense to the Marxist literary culture of 1950s Italy. Its outlook is one of weary disillusionment that holds out little hope of social improvement or even personal contentment. It sounds dreadfully depressing, doesn't it? Lampedusa himself said once, "It is, I fear, rubbish." Actually, it is neither.

At its heart, there is one character: Fabrizio Corbero, Prince of Salina, The Leopard. It is in the portrayal of this man, and through his eyes, that of Sicily and its people that the quality of The Leopard lies. Lampedusa's eye is very sharp and sensitive to the smallest fluctuations of mood and motive, to the currents of history that pass through, or by, the characters and to the contradictions that sit comfortably together in every moment. One example of many. Salina is out hunting with the parish priest and they bring down a rabbit. They are out of sight of any human habitation in a land that would have looked the same to the Phoenicians, Dorians and Ionians 2,000 years before. The two hunters approach the fatally wounded prey and Don Fabrizio is fixed upon by "eyes that showed no reproof, but were full of a stunned shock towards the whole order of things ...
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102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small but perfectly formed 26 Feb 2005
Format:Hardcover
I think this may be the nearest thing to a perrfect novel. It's set in Sicily around the time of the '100 days' - the beginning of Garibaldi's campaign to unite Italy (and extend the franchise along the way). The central character is an aging aristocrat. He is at once admirable, contemptible and pitiable. He is more aware than his peers that the power of his class is crumbling, along with his own previously formidable powers. His loyalty - to his family, his class, and a king whom he personally despises - dominates his actions, even while he knows the inevitability of failure. Yet his personal relations with his family are distant.
The book is a great work of art. Much is understated, implied, ambiguous. The revolution has bittersweet consequences: it is obvious what was gained, but something was lost (the author was also a count). So much is said in so few words. Occasionally the peaks of human artistry inspire awe: how can a person do this? This is such a peak. Paragraphs, pages even, are perfect.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Read 5 Sep 2007
Format:Paperback
The book opens with a languid but elegant intoduction to the leisured life of Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, a Sicilian princeling of the 1860s. Oh dear, I thought, after reading a few pages. Is this one of those books that has acquired a grand self-perpetuating reputation, a book you have to call a work of genius because everybody else does? At that point, like a boxer delivering a jab, Di Lampedusa casually throws in an account of the recent discovery in the palace gardens of the corpse of a royalist soldier, nailing down every repellent detail a split second before it occurs to the reader - the scrabbling hands, the spilt intestines, the desperation of death... No, I thought, they're right.

A few minutes research on, say, Wikipedia, into the origins, nature and ultimate fate of the "Kingdom of the Two Sicilies" whose turbulent decline forms the landscape outside the palace walls is well repaid. Di Lampedusa certainly had the powers to delineate the "risorgimento" - the Italian war of unification - on the epic scale but chose to look at it, so to speak, down the other end of the telescope. This book could sit well with War and Peace as a document of human conflict but Di Lampedusa, being a brilliant miniaturist, keeps the soldiery offstage and the seat of the action is the inner world of Prince Fabrizio. I can hardly think of a character in literature so fully realised.

Fabrizio's central dilemma is this. On the political level he has sufficient acuteness to appreciate that the conversion of Italy from a ramshackle collection of teetering monarchies into a liberal, bourgeois whole may be as much a relief as a threat.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing
such an intelligent translation with sections I had to read several times because they were so brilliant. Such subtle humour - superb.
Published 5 days ago by macca
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine insight into the decline of the aristocracy
The deep sense of loss in a rapidly changing world pours out from the pages. The characters are well drawn and the sense that the Princess knows the fate of his family lies in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by MVG
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow burning, but worth it
On the face of it The Leopard is the story of the ageing and slow decline of a Prince in Sicily and his eventual death. Read more
Published 1 month ago by elephvant
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine read
A book club choice which, once picked up was quite difficult to put down. Factual and historical, I really enjoyed it.
Published 2 months ago by Julie in Staffordshire
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I loved this book though friends and my husband to whom I loaned it did not. Their loss! I found it evocative of a way of life in Sicily before the invasion of Garibaldi and his... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nina
3.0 out of 5 stars Long introduction but
The book has a long introduction as to how it came to life. Persevere and you will find it worth it.
Published 3 months ago by Janine Mills
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
A beautiful and insightful book. Of course I'm not saying anything new here.
Also a great read if you want to understand more of the mindset of the Sicilian people.
Published 3 months ago by fiona Winstanley
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Book
Lost my original copy of this and wanted to re-read, definitely a thriller with such an insight into life in southern Italy and maybe still today.
Published 5 months ago by Patricia Rochester
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
This book is a delight. With great overarching compassion for all the players in this piece of history,Lampedusa captured the passing of an era as Sicily became part of unified... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jentle reader
5.0 out of 5 stars a great re-read!
I read it before many years ago and enjoyed it as much as before. It inspired a film I would like to see again?
Published 8 months ago by Monica
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