Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

A lifelong voracious reader, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (toh-MAH-see dee lahm-pay-DEW-zah) became a writer late in his intellectual career. His first public writings were a series of lectures begun in the fall of 1953 on the development of English and, later, French literature. The audience was a select company of young students, and only one of the lessons has been published to date: the “Lezioni su Stendhal” (lesson on Stendhal), which appeared in the April, 1959, issue of Paragone. This literary discussion offers as much critical insight into Lampedusa as it does into its subject, Stendhal. The amateur critic presents the French novelist as an exemplary narrator whose “thin” style requires the reader’s active participation in deciphering the implicit, as well as the explicit, text. Lampedusa’s ownnarrative style lacks this Stendhalian simplicity and pregnant silence he so admired; The Leopard is a “fat” book, prone to lushness and descriptive delineation. Nevertheless, Lampedusa shared Stendhal’s interpretation of the narrative voice and his concept of realism: Events are presented through the subjective filter of aprotagonist’s perceptions and sensibilities. Lampedusa imitates this Stendhalian procedure somewhat erratically, identifying primarily with his novel’s hero, Don Fabrizio Corbera, prince of Salina. Author and character occasionally merge as the prince becomes an autobiographical mouthpiece.


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