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The Leopard

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  20,941 ratings  ·  1,590 reviews
The Leopard is a story of a decadent and dying aristocracy threatened by the forces of revolution and democracy. Set against the political upheavals of Italy in the 1860s, it focuses on Don Fabrizio, a Sicilian prince of immense sensual appetites, wealth, and great personal magnetism. Around this powerful figure swirls a glittering array of characters: a Bourbon king, ...more
Paperback, 319 pages
Published November 6th 2007 by Pantheon (first published October 25th 1958)
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Piotr Oh, there is a movie, by Visconti, rated PG. There is nothing graphic or inappropriate in the book, but it's difficult. A melancholic tale about a…moreOh, there is a movie, by Visconti, rated PG. There is nothing graphic or inappropriate in the book, but it's difficult. A melancholic tale about a transitional period in history. If a teenager wants to read it, my congratulations, it's a kind of classic that deserves to be widely known :)(less)
Dan Of course it is relevant today! A measure of a great book is that it remains relevant. The author beautifully describes the strengths as well as the…moreOf course it is relevant today! A measure of a great book is that it remains relevant. The author beautifully describes the strengths as well as the weaknesses of monarchy as well as democracy. He also wistfully depicts the cynicism of anyone who rises above the frenzy of daily distractions to reflect on the meaning of it all.(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
”Among his friends Don Fabrizio was considered an “eccentric”; his interest in mathematics was taken almost as sinful perversion, and had he not been actually Prince of Salina and known as an excellent horseman, indefatigable shot and tireless womaniser, his parallaxes and telescopes might have exposed him to the risk of outlawry. Even so the did not say much to him, for his cold blue eyes, glimpsed under the heavy lids, put would-be talkers off, and he often found himself isolated, not, as he ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Last summer I actually got some good reading done. I had been plagued with seeing The Leopard by Lampedusa in various bookstores in Italy, but did not really know what it was about aside from the reunification of Italy in the late 19th C. I read Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb and in the 4th chapter of that book, he talked about the book and I was hooked. I scoured about 4 bookstores in Sicily before finally finding a translation into French and I dove in headfirst. What an incredible read! I ...more
Steven Godin
Back in 1958, Feltrinelli Editore in Milan brought out a historical novel by an obscure Palermitan aristocrat who had died only the previous year. Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's posthumous, unfinished work Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) was at once hailed a masterpiece. I wholehearted agree with that. It possesses the luxurious descriptive and analytic power not simply of one of the most beguiling 20th-century novels, but one of the modern world's definitive political fictions. Lampedusa's ...more
Vit Babenco
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:16
The Leopard is a novel about the first becoming last and the last first…
Plants were growing in thick disorder on the reddish clay; flowers sprouted in all directions, and the myrtle hedges seemed put there to prevent movement rather than guide it. At the end a statue of Flora speckled with yellow-black lichen exhibited her centuries-old charms with an air of resignation; on each side were benches
Any words of mine about this famous book would be superfluous, so I thought I'd just add some images to the beautiful opening paragraph...

“NUNC ET IN hora mortis nostrae. Amen.” The daily recital of the Rosary was over. For half an hour the steady voice of the Prince had recalled the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries; for half an hour other voices had interwoven a lilting hum from which, now and again, would chime some unlikely word; love, virginity, death; and during that hum the whole
Luís C.
In this story we meet Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, one of the most important aristocrats of the island of Sicily. A leopard appears on the coat of arms of the Salina family, a symbol that will accompany the prince throughout his life. Don Fabrizio sees at a distance the melancholy of the end of an era that marks the landing of Garibaldi in Sicily.
The Prince of Salina and the aristocracy he represents is nearing an end and the bureaucrats and the bourgeoisie take advantage of the new
Let's make one thing quite clear. I do not in any way claim to be objective, nor am I interested in ever being so. On the contrary, I delight in my opinions, and more importantly taking great lengths in ameliorating and deconstructing them in what I am aiming to be a neverending endeavor. What I wish for are thoughts and ideals that I both explicate upon and hold fast to, as well as an inherent sensitivity to what a particular occasion calls for. Panderings at neutrality can take a hike.

It was a garden for the blind: a constant offence to the eyes, a pleasure strong if somewhat crude to the nose. The Paul Neyron roses, whose cuttings he had himself bought in Paris, had degenerated; first stimulated and then enfeebled by the strong if languid pull of Sicilian earth, burnt by apocalyptic Julys, they had changed into objects like flesh coloured cabbages, obscene and distilling a dense almost indecent scent which no French horticulturist would have dared hope for. The Prince put ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I read this great book many years ago but still can remember that superb atmosphere of long gone glory. Everything is in decay, a once proud aristocrat (the leopard) got old, time overtook him. Here his long life passes in review. And in the end? Well, the book has one of the greatest and most melancholic endings ever. Absolutely recommended. A modern classic!
Ahmad Sharabiani
468. Il Gattopardo = The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Published: 1958
Most of the novel is set during the time of the Italian unification, specifically during the period when Giuseppe Garibaldi, the hero of Italian unification, swept through Sicily with his forces, known as The Thousand. The plot focuses upon the aristocratic Salina family, which is headed by the stoic Prince Fabrizio, a consummate womanizer who foresees the upcoming downfall of his family and the nobility in Italy as a
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: history, 1001-core, 501, europe
You have a stable job. You own your house. You drive your own car. Your daughter is studying in an exclusive school. You can buy any book you take fancy on. You can dine at any restaurant anytime. You can buy any clothes you want. In short, you have a comfortable life.

What if all these are taken away from you? Let’s say your company closes shop? What if you are stricken with cancer and you have to spend millions for your operation? What if you run over a man who is crossing the street on one
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: snobs & dogs
Shelves: 2019
"In order for things to stay the same," says Tancredi, "Things will have to change." Which leaves you wondering, what if you don’t want things to stay the same?

A sense of disintegration pervades Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s 1958 Italian classic The Leopard. It’s 1860 and the Sicilian aristocrat Don Fabrizio, The Leopard himself, is broke. Only his hot nephew Tancredi has the sense to do what’s necessary: marry a nouveau riche woman with a lower social class and a higher bank balance, as is
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it

The Leopard.
One of the four "big cats," it is a fierce predator: fast, voracious, strong enough to crush a skull with its jaws and to drag an animal almost as heavy as itself into a tree. Fearsome.
(view spoiler)
Like most felines, the leopard expends energy in massive bursts and must sleep for the most of the day to recoup its strength for the hunt. Do these long stretches of dormancy make the leopard lazy? Would it, free from the demands of hunger, wile away day after day in
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I. Nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.

Thus begins Lampedusa’s masterpiece, his paean to death. Sensuous, insightful, subtle, The Leopard is a work of absolute beauty.

In 1860 Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, is watching the lifeblood seep from his world: the power and the prestige, the unquestioned honors are all fading away, being bled out by revolution. He simply watches it go. He is resigned to it as he is resigned to his own nature. Sated ease tinged with
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A book full of the deepest melancholy and feelings of loss, poetic language and irony. I loved this book. Other people have written beautiful reviews about it, to which I have nothing to add. I refer in particular to the review of Jeffrey Keeten or the review in Dutch of Sini. Both reflect my sentiments completely.
What complaints I have about The Leopard are minutely stylistic; and because "to present any writer in translation is to present him bereft of his style," as Clarence Brown, one of Mandelstam’s English avatars, reminds us, I won’t dwell on the elaborate clunkiness and awkward extensions of Lampedusa’s metaphors, especially those applied to the inner emotional states of his characters. In Italian this figurative language may be impossibly smooth. What I love in this novel is its morbid and ...more
Barry Pierce
What do I think of this? On one hand I want to laud it as being a classic of Italian literature, imbued with the essence of Lermontov and breadth of Tolstoy. However, on the other hand, this is essentially just one long episode of Downton Abbey but with less Maggie Smith and more Garibaldi. I'm conflicted about this one a bit because it does have some really boring parts but then it has some just magical passages. Eh, I liked it, but it's barely clinging on to those three stars.
Gabrielle Dubois
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20th-century
In Italy, in 1860, a decadent and impoverished aristocracy, deaf to the upheavals of the world, still reigns over Sicily. But the disembarkation of the troops of the republican Giuseppe Garibaldi who wants to reunify Italy divided into several kingdoms, initiates the overthrow of a secular social order. We enter the intimacy of the thought and the life of Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, great landowner, aware of the threat of disappearance that hangs over his caste and his family, but ...more
Alice Poon
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had never read anything about the history of Italy’s unification (called the “Risorgimento”), and was glad to read this charming novel. The story is set in 1860s Sicily and accounts for the personal trajectory of a Sicilian aristocrat Fabrizio Salina as he gets caught up in the social and political storm that would bring democracy and irrevocable changes to the various disparate Italian states.

Written in a lush style embellished by similes and metaphors, the story is told through a narrator
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Unlike in many other novels of historical fiction, Tomasi makes no secret of the fact that he is writing from the vantage of hindsight. And though they were few, I enjoyed his narratorial asides, some ironic, some sobering. But what I loved more than anything else is the elegant writing; you are in a dream as the sentences flow by. Two sections stand out as especially beautiful: the young couple playing amongst the closed-off ruins of rooms in the palace and the main character facing death -- ...more
Although this is a very famous novel I’d not personally heard of it until I joined GR in 2014. Over the past 5 years I’ve seen various reviews of it, always positive, and so was persuaded to try it.

As is well-known, the bulk of the novel is set in Sicily in the 1860s. The central character, Prince Fabrizio Salina, exercises a paternalistic rule over the tenants of his vast estates, across a Sicily that seems timeless but which is now faced with change, or, as the Prince views it, with decay. The
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sinister adults
The quintessence of melancholy, The Leopard, lets the reader try on the skin of the titular character: the last prince in a declining aristocracy. It reminded me of Under the Volcano . I was pushed to empathize with the last leonine lord of Sicily as intimately as I did with the alcoholic diplomat in Under the Volcano, despite never having aspirations towards being crowned or pickled. Both novels deal with cornered people doing their best while their world turns to dust. The Leopard is ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bitchin
The other day I found a grey hair, by which I mean on my own head, of course, not on the floor. If I was in my forties, or upwards, I may have anticipated such a thing, but, in my naivety, I didn’t think it possible at my age. Yet there it was, gesturing to me in an offensive manner; it was like staring at a crowd of people and suddenly spotting, deep in their midst, a child looking my way and insouciantly giving me the finger. I’ve been, it is fair to say, somewhat perturbed ever since; I keep ...more
It is no coincidence that The Leopard is bookended by two corpses: a decomposing one at the beginning, and an embalmed one at the end. The middle is filled with the story of a third corpse whose slow decomposition and putrefaction make up the meat of the novel. Rigour mortis first sets in, as traditions rigidify the body. It gets devoured internally, its body bloating, consumed by its own bacteria—the peasants that require the pacification and gifts demanded by noblesse oblige, the expensive ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book deserves 5 stars for the writing
3 for the wasted potential
2 for all the characters whose story didn't get told
5 for Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, undoubtedly one of Literature's Great Characters.

Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I tremendously enjoyed reading this book. The first chapter is a bit difficult to read because it was left unfinished by the author and had to be posthumously composed from unfinished material (by Giorgio Bassani nota bene). But then the Leopard turns into a lovely 19th century society novel full of psychology, awesome landscapes and social realism. You not only get a beautiful description of Sicily and the Sicilians in the middle of the 19th Century, it is above all a study in political and ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
One may rarely add something significant to the enormous amount of what's been already said about a book that brilliant. And yet I can't resist.

For some reason I can't but compare The Leopard to The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov's play which (as any decent pupil in Russia) I studied at school (apparently too thoroughly to get rid of the images of the characters). In both cases we see people dealing with a time of changes. Chekhov's character, Lyubov Andreievna, a representative – or I'd better say a
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-novels
A rich and luscious novel about a decaying aristocratic family in nineteenth century Sicily. The main protagonists are the Salina family and especially Don Fabrizio (the Leopard of the title) the head of the family. Most of the novel takes place in the early 1860s and there is great descriptive detail throughout capturing the heat and dust of the Sicilian countryside. Lampedusa's descriptions of scents and smells and a decaying grand house are sublime. Religion and the ritual of the Catholic ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Italian writers tend to have a close affinity with the location their novel is set in; Morante’s ‘History’ is just as much about war-torn Rome as it is about the characters, Delleda’s ‘Reeds in the Wind’ is imbued with the atmosphere of Sardinia, Levi’s ‘The Periodic Table’ is entwined with the Piedmont of Levi’s youth and ‘The Garden of the Finzi-Cortinis recreates 1930’s Ferrara perfectly. Yet no Italian novel encapsulates the environment it is set in like ‘The Leopard’.Bucolic and beautiful, ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Another classic I can cross off my "to read before I die" list. It's one of those books that has a definite low-key charm throughout and that ends up affecting you to an unexpected degree by the end. It tells the story of the decline of an aristocratic Sicilian family following Garibaldi's unification of Italy in 1860. The entire narrative spans half a century, but the vast majority of the action takes place in the months immediately surrounding the dissolution of the Bourbon monarchy of Sicily ...more
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Tomasi was born in Palermo to Giulio Maria Tomasi, Prince of Lampedusa and Duke of Palma di Montechiaro, and Beatrice Mastrogiovanni Tasca Filangieri di Cutò. He became an only child after the death (from diphtheria) of his sister. He was very close to his mother, a strong personality who influenced him a great deal, especially because his father was rather cold and detached. As a child he studied ...more
“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” 141 likes
“Love. Of course, love. Flames for a year, ashes for thirty.” 90 likes
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