Il Gattopardo.

Milano, Feltrinelli, 1858.

Original illustrated yellow cardboard binding with image in red to front board and black lettering to front board and spine as well as "Lire 1.300) to back board. Light edge wear, corners and capitals slightly bumped and a bit of general soiling/darkening, but overall quite nice. Interannly a bit of darkening, mostly to upper margin. 

The very rare first printing of November 1958 (recte October 25, as stated on the colophon) of one of the most significant literary productions of the 20th century.

Lampedusa’s groundbreaking historical novel “The Leopard” is a classic of European literature and a highly significant political masterpiece, chronicling the changes in Italian life and society during the “Risorgimento”. With its main tension being on class struggle, the work magnificently portrays the falling elites of the upper class as well as the climbing middle class, at the same time as it tells the story of Italy during the national unification, the end of the aristocracy, and the end of the Church’s privileges in Italy.

“In the plot, we can find similarities between the Bourbons’ supremacy and fascism, between Garibaldi’s conquest and the allied occupation at the end of the second world war. The book foreshadows political life in the newly unified kingdom and economic transformations that paved the way for corruption and criminal organisations in post-1945 Italy.

As journalist and author, Luigi Barzini, once said, the book “made all us Italians understand our life and history to the depths.” (The Conversation: Guide to the Classics, June 2020).

The work was highly controversial and no publishing houses wanted to publish it. It ended up being posthumously published a year after Lampedusa’s death and eventually became the best selling novel in Italian history. The year after its publication, it won Italy's highest award for fiction, the “Strega Prize, and in 2012, “The Observer” named it as one of "the 10 best historical novels".

“The manuscript was initially rejected in 1956 and 1957. Important Italian publishers such as Mondadori and Einaudi thought it ideologically deficient, reactionary for its representation of an immobile history, and structurally weak. It also failed to align with the mainstream Italian literature of the time.

The manuscript was subsequently reviewed by writer Giorgio Bassani and published for Feltrinelli in 1958, a year after its author’s death.

Generally classified as a historical novel, The Leopard became a bestseller both in Italy and abroad, with 52 editions printed in the first four months. It won the prestigious Strega literary prize in 1959.

But critical debate erupted. The book appeared during an economic boom and when Italian intellectual culture was strongly politicised. Leftist intellectuals saw it as a backward, conservative portrayal of Sicilian elites written by a little-known man with no sense of progress.

After a few years, initial objections waned and the novel came to be appreciated for its writing and modern narrative structure.

With supple and ornate language, the book has an introspective storyline and alludes to the works of Shakespeare, Sterne, Tolstoy, Baudelaire, Keats, Proust and Stendhal. The narration is characterised by stylistic shifts that reflect both Prince Salina’s varying points of view and the unnamed but all-knowing narrator’s perceptions of history.

The Leopard is a family saga, a psychological novel, a meditation on death and on the loss of collective memory. It has been read as a lyrical and prophetic contemplation on the experience of modernity and on the risks that it involves, such as ambition, and loss of beauty and traditions.

A solitary, melancholic man, author Tomasi di Lampedusa was deeply aware of his own mortality. The Leopard was his only novel that, together with a collection of short stories and literary studies, was published posthumously. His book would sell more than 3.2 million copies, be translated into more than 37 languages, and rightly honoured as an “immortal” masterpiece.” (The Conversation: Guide to the Classics, June 2020).

The first printing of the work from October 25 (called the November-issue) is very scarce indeed and only rarely appears on the market. The second printing appeared already in December 1958.

Order-nr.: 60382

DKK 35.000,00