The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa (1896 to 1957, born Palermo, Sicily, died Rome) is a great work of art. Everyone who reads The Leopard loves it and so do I. It might well be the highest regarded 20th century Italian novel. It was made into a film in 1963 by Luchinio Visconti. I have not yet seen it but the images are gorgeous.
The Leopard begins in 1860, set in Sicily. It centers on the life of a 19th century prince of Sicily. It is a kind of a half bitter elegy to a dying culture. The novel begins at the same time Garibaldi started his civil war against the Italian King. Much space is devoted to the prince lambasting the ultra conservative backwater Sicilians but under that you sense a great love for the island and it's long tragic history. The prince is deeply into the reading life, an inveterate womanizer, a terrible snob who senses the fall of a very old way of life. Caught up with this is a deep preoccupation with death and decay. We see that in the numerous scenes of once grand homes in decrepitude and in the falling health of those depicted in the novel. The church plays a large role in The Leopard.
I really liked this novel. It will be, if it is not already, a classic of the European novel.
You can sense the deep culture of the prince and his feelings about Sicily in these lines.
I am so glad I have now read The Leopard, sadly the aurhor's only novel. I have also read three shorter works of fiction by the author, published by The New York Review of Books. I hope to reread The Leopard in 2015.