The Leopard

By Giuseppe Di Lampedusa,

Book cover of The Leopard

Book description

The Leopard is a modern classic which tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution.

'There is a great feeling of opulence, decay, love and death about it' Rick Stein

In the spring of 1860, Fabrizio, the charismatic Prince…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Leopard as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

E. M. Forster famously described Lampedusa’s solitary work as “one of the great lonely books.” It is a masterpiece that simultaneously captures both the peculiarity of Sicily within the experience of the wars of Italian Unification while brilliantly portraying characters confronting universal human emotions of love, loss, and struggle in times of momentous change. Lampedusa based the book’s protagonist, the Prince of Salina, on his own grandfather. The story, told in a series of episodes across half a century, while fictionalized, captures the essential elements of the birth of the modern Italian state, the rise of a new class of…

I love this book because for me it’s the ultimate historical novel; a great epic set in a tumultuous landscape beautifully crafted and utterly engaging. The perfect blend of the personal and the political woven into gloriously intricate emotions. It taught me the importance of character and how the psychology of ambition can shape a whole life as well as destroy a family. The ultimate artistry I inspire towards as a writer, that creates the visceral, vivid landscape I like to get lost in as a reader. 

From Tobsha's list on to make you believe in love again.

Set in 19th-century Sicily, this luscious novel reveals the fragility of foundations—of self, of class, of kingdom. The story focuses on the decadent and decaying Italian aristocracy amidst the political upheavals of the 1860s. The main protagonists are the Salina family, above all the patriarch Don Fabrizio, who must accept change if things are to remain the same. A central theme is demise and the fading of beauty, sublimely rendered in rich language that details the scents, colors, and textures of a crumbling family seat.

Lampedusa could make a dish of macaroni cheese voluptuous and a basket full of peaches revolutionary. This author had a wonderful appreciation of the pleasures of the senses, and a great gift for making sensuality politically significant. 

In 1860 the palace of Donnafugata, the summer retreat of a fictional family of Sicilian aristocrats, is remote from the cities where Garibaldi and his followers are precipitating a nationalist revolution, but the chill of impending change is in the air, along with an anticipatory nostalgia for the decadent beauty that is passing away. 

Politically radical Prince Tancredi and his bourgeois sweetheart devote…

From Lucy's list on houses.

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