To read Lampedusa’s great novel, The Leopard—that ironic and nostalgic story about a prince by a prince, about a once-distinguished and always-prodigal family by the last of just such a family—is to wonder, as with Proust or A Portrait of the Artist, where the autobiography ends and the fiction begins. Who is Don Fabrizio Salina, the Leopard of the book’s title? Is he, as many have speculated, an hommage to Giulio Tomasi, the author’s great-grandfather, the Prince of Lampedusa during the days of Garibaldi? Or is he actually a veiled portrait of the author himself? Is The Leopard a historical novel about the passing of the old regime in Sicily in the 1860s or is it, as certain Italian intellectuals have charged, an out-dated aristocrat’s “right-wing” “reactionary” screed against the “progressive” modern Italian...


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