Two Stories and a Memory is a nearly complete translation of the collection published in Italian in 1961 as Racconti. It includes the pages of “Places of My Infancy,” an autobiography that Lampedusa composed while writing The Leopard; “The Professor and the Mermaid,” a short story that develops some of the themes of The Leopard in sprightlier fashion; and the first chapter of The Blind Kittens, a novel that Lampedusa did not live to complete. It omits a slight and uncharacteristic story called “La gioia e la legge”(“Joy and the Law”) that did not appear in English until 1993.
According to Lampedusa’s widow, she suggested that her husband undertake “Places of My Infancy” as an act of therapy. Although he apparently intended to carry the narrative forward into his adult life, he never did so. As it stands, the autobiography consists of eight sections, each highlighting a particular aspect of his childhood world, including the shocked reactions of his mother and father to the assassination of King Umberto I in 1900, his enchantment with the Lampedusa palazzo in Palermo, and his family’s annual journeys to the Santa Margherita estate. Beyond its particular charms, the work reveals the factual basis for many of the events and locales described in The Leopard.
“The Professor and the Mermaid” is set in the mainland city of Turin but concerns an aging professor of Greek...
(The entire section is 440 words.)