Friday, May 14, 2010

The Leopard

This month marks the 150th anniversary of Garibaldi's landings in Sicily as part of the national unification movement - and nobody in Sicily seems to care. Fact is often stranger than fiction, and the historical novel that provoked serious reconsideration of the unification war and its aftermath remains the bestselling Sicilian work of fiction half a century after its initial publication.

The Leopard is the story of an aristocratic family of Palermo beginning in 1860. Important themes abound within its pages, and it remains as fresh and readable today as it was over fifty years ago. It was published shortly after the death of its author, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, himself a Sicilian nobleman.

What's interesting is that this unique novel is still fairly popular. More than any other book, it has shaped the opinions of many Sicilians over the last five decades, challenging what - until the fall of the House of Savoy and the end of Fascism - was advocated by the Italian police state as the "official" view of Italian unification.

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