Friday 28 August 2015

The Leopard - Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa

One that had been on my to read list for quite a while and now one of the Waterstones rediscovered classics, so expect bookshop staff to extolling it's virtues throughout September. If they do, then take them up on the chance to read it, because it really does deserve it's classic status. Set in Sicily in the period just after Risorgimento, unification for those of us not up on 19th century Italian history. It focuses on the family of Fabrizio, Prince of Salina who are experiencing the social shifts within the nation. The book captures the sense of a collapsing way of life quite brilliantly, something that is usually found in novels set in the post 1918 world. The scope of the central story is really rather small, the Prince's beloved nephew, Tancredi, falls in love with the daughter if a middle class family and dashes the romantic hopes of his cousin, Fabrizio's daughter Concetta. This intimate story is set in the context of Garibaldi's invasion of Italy and the political changes that occurred afterwards. These momentous changes impact on the main story and add to the poignancy of the final scenes set in 1883 and 1910.
What raises this novel out of the ordinary are the nuanced and totally believably flawed characters each one of which is beautifully written and which are set in a location that is captured to perfection. The underlying theme of collapse and mortality runs throughout the novel with the musings of the Prince on the subject of mortality forming the backdrop to several scenes. Not wanting to spoil the ending I'll just reiterate that I found it to be very poignant and moving. The novel really is a pleasure to read and it just seems a shame that there is so little other writing by Lampedusa available to be enjoyed.

1 comment: