Ryan's Reviews > The Leopard

The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
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's review
Aug 07, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read in September, 2009

A very different pleasure than I expected after having seen Visconti's film version. The Prince, Don Fabrizio, is a different character than what I got from Lancaster. Not to slight Lancaster's portrayal; the prince of the book is a very internal man, prone to let silences exist while the page fills with his observations and deductions. To be simplistic in my analysis of metaphor / metonymy, he's similar to the vacated back rooms of his palaces - spaces become dormant, a state of preserved decay, communicative only to those that have traveled the same path, of the same caste.

Too little time to really analyze or formally review. In short, the book is beautifully written, closely observed, humorous, a successful detailing of a peculiarly southern Italian character through a character study. A couple passages I like, randomly chosen from many that were worthy:

"The rains had come, the rains had gone, and the sun was back on its throne like an absolute monarch kept off it for a week by his subjects barricades, and now reigning once again, choleric but under constitutional restraint. The heat braced without burning, the light domineered but let colors live; from the soil cautiously sprouted clover and mint, and on faces appeared diffident hopes."

Sicily and Sicilian-ness ring true through the musings on sun and lassitude.

"At this point calm descended on Don Fabrizio, who had finally solved the enigma; now he knew who had been killed at Donnafugata, at a hundred other places, in the course of that night of dirty wind: a new born babe: good faith; just the very child who should have been cared for most, whose strengthening would have justified all the silly vandalisms."

The more things change, the more they MUST change, the more they stay the same ... perhaps the central theme of the book. The Sicilian, or the Neapolitan or the Piedmontese, can no more change than (easy analogue here) the leopard spots move.

Beautiful and meaningful. Read it!

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Reading Progress

09/19/2009 page 70
09/23/2009 page 205
64.26% "Turning out to be a favorite: the exploration of abandoned palace as a rumination on desire, awesome!"
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