‘The Leopard’ Turns 50

From The New York Times:

Donadio190 In his posthumous book “On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain” (2006), the critic Edward Said called “The Leopard” “a Sicilian ‘Death of Ivan Ilyich,’ which in turn masks a powerful autobiographical impulse.” Don Fabrizio, Said wrote, was “in effect the last Lampedusa, whose own cultivated melancholy, totally without self-pity, stands at the center of the novel, exiled from the continuing history of the 20th century, enacting a state of anachronistic lateness with a compelling authenticity and an unyielding ascetic principle that rules out sentimentality and nostalgia.” In the family palazzo in Palermo, Lampedusa slept in the same room in which he was born and in which he expected to die. But in 1943 an Allied bomb severely damaged the building, which was later abandoned. Although “The Leopard” ends in 1910, it contains a glimpse of the future: “From the ceiling the gods, reclining on gilded couches, gazed down smiling and inexorable as a summer sky. They thought themselves eternal; but a bomb manufactured in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was to prove the contrary in 1943.”

“The novel helped him reconstitute things he’d lost,” Lanza said at N.Y.U. Like Thomas Mann, he said, Lampedusa had been born into “the full flowering of European civilization,” only to see it eclipsed. “They became prophets of the Europe that thought of itself as the hegemony and then was superseded by the United States.”

More here.