THE LEOPARD by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
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With calm deliberation the Leopard, sign of the princely house of Salinas, surveys for generations the indolent landscape of Sicily. But with the coming of Garibaldi, the Bourbon kingdom begins to falter, the eyes of the Leopard grow dim. A united Italy is a bourgeois Italy and the Leopard becomes a zoo creature, tolerated for the amusement of the middle class upstarts. In this story of the Prince of Salinas and of his nephew, the husband of a wealthy peasant woman, the swift degeneration of the Leopard is exposed. With the precision of a fine optical instrument, the narrative views the canny prince as he compromises with the new liberals while maintaining a point of view which, essentially, is aristocratic. A sensual man, he is strongly contemptuous of the vain pursuits of the flesh; playfully sceptical of the church, he yields to it, though he names his own price for salvation. In this story of an ending, of the demise of the Italian aristocracy, of Sicily with its curious death wish, its paradoxical desire for freedom and its reluctance to accept it, the author interjects comments which are peculiarly modern. This, and the aparently casual tone of the narrative contributes to the impact of a story which, in fact, is neither casual nor meandering, but a statement in realistic terms of the void of man's existence, the fleeting nature of his accomplishments. A Book-of-the-Month-Club selection, The Leopard is forceful without being blunt, rare without being vague, delicate but never fragile.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1960
ISBN: 0375714790
Publisher: Pantheon