The decor of the 'Leopard' (II Gattopardo)
Cose dell'altro Geo
First broadcast date
Presentation of the places that inspired the writing of one of Italy's most famous novels, "Il Gattopardo". An aristocrat strongly attached to his native Sicily, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1896-1957) wrote at the end of his life this nostalgic novel . Ruins of the palace of Via Lampedusa in Palermo, destroyed by the bombing in 1943.Exterior and interior of the villa of Santa Margherita del Belice, of the Villa Piccolo of Capo d'Orlando and the convent of Palma di Montechiaro, places where the writer lived. Interview with the adopted son of the writer Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi in the Via Butera house in Palermo, the last home of the writer.
Original soundtrack of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa who reads a passage from his story "Lighea". Photographs of the writer's family.
RAI - RAI Tre
- Tomasi di Lampedusa Giuseppe
Languages and literatures
- Landscapes and environment / Geography and landscapes
Credits / Cast
- Arriva Filippo - Author of original work
Many black and white photographs of the childhood of the writer and his family.
Voice of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (28 seconds).
The sets of the Leopard
When The Leopard first appeared in bookshops in 1958, its author,Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was already dead. He had died a year earlier at the age of sixty one (he was born on December 23rd 1896). So Lampedusa never knew how successful his novel was. The book is set in his native Sicily at the time of the Risorgimento, more precisely in 1860, the year Garibaldi landed on the island with his Redshirts for what became known as the Expedition of the Thousand. Garibaldi's democratic and unifying ideals shook the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which had remained outside every attempt of political modernisation which had so regularly unsettled Europe after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In this context the reader follows Don Fabrizio Salina, a Sicilian prince belonging to the aristocracy which owned and managed a large part of the island through vast, latifundia estates. Salina is confronted by the new modernising forces then taking Italian society by storm, embodied here both in his nephew Tancrede, who is totally committed to Garibaldi's cause, and in Don Calogero Sedara, a recent, minor aristocrat who made his money when the feudal system was abolished in the 19th century. The prince seems to accept these forces since at one point he says "everything must change, so that nothing changes". In fact at first the critics took the book to be an elegy for conservatism. But in fact it is more complex than that. Certainly the author is sympathetic to Salina, who was based on his great-grandfather, Giulio Fabrizio di Lampedusa, whose coat of arms are a leopard [actually a serval, a small African wild cat occasionally seen on the island of Lampedusa off Sicily]. Giuseppe Tomasi was part of the great aristocracy linked to the Spanish Bourbons who dominated Sicily: at the death of his father he inherited the titles of Duke of Palma, Baron of Montechiaro, Prince of Lampedusa and Grandee of Spain. He adopted their life of idleness, floating between the family palace in Palermo and the villa Santa Margherita de Belice in the western province of Agrigente. Nevertheless he studied law a bit and literature which he loved. In 1943 the Palermo palace was destroyed by the Allied bombardment and the town of Santa Margherita was affected by an earthquake, so after WW2 he reconstructed the lost world of his youth at the villa Piccolo de Capo d’Orlando. He started writing The Leopard there, a novel both historical and psychological in which the author's viewpoint is more critical than it might at first appear. Lampedusa himself considered it “ironic, bitter and not without malice”. In fact the book also reflects his contemporary reality. Written as the centenary of the Risogimento approached, the book asks the question which had become crucial to southern Europe ever since Italy's unification: can southern Italy adapt not only to social and economic modernity but also to a political modernity which means submitting to a centralised and democratic state.
Whatever one's interpretation, the book has the feel and life of a novel, and that is what made its success. In 1959 it was awarded the prestigious Strega Prize. The Leopard is the most translated work of Italian literature in the world. Luchino Visconti's film adaptation in 1963 spread its fame: starring Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon, the film received the Palme d’Or at Cannes. A key novel, The Leopard is both a witness to and a milestone in the cultural history of contemporary Italy.
Benigno Francesco, Giarrizzo Giuseppe (a cura di), Storia della Sicilia.2. Dal Seicento a oggi, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2003, 241 p.
Ferroni Giulio, Letteratura italiana contemporanea. 1945-2007, Milano, Mondadori Università, 2007, 376 p.
Livi François, La littérature italienne contemporaine, Paris, PUF, 1995, 127 p.
Savoia Salvatore, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Palermo, Flaccovio, 2010, 188 p.
Vitello Andra, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo segreto, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008, 563p.