Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa - The Leopard

A Video Talk

The story of an aristocratic family in Sicily, whose fortunes are rapidly fading, is considered one of the best historical novels ever written. Sicilian society, Don Fabrizio and his family, are all so vividly portrayed, as is their crumbling home and lifestyle. A superb movie version, Visconti’s glorious 1963 film starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale is still delightful to watch today.

Travel with me to this ancient island, learn more about Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (one of the best-read men in the history of the world), and delve into a rich, thought-provoking, and memorable story that is now regarded as one of the great books of the 20th century.

“Perhaps the greatest novel of the century.”
― L.P. Hartley

From ‘unpublishable’ to blockbuster

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was told by an editor that his novel The Leopard was “unpublishable”. It was rejected by publishers and only appeared after the author’s death, but then became the top-selling novel in Italian history. When, in 1963, the glorious film version was released, it too won awards and was a popular and critical success.

Lampedusa was the last in a line of minor Sicilian princes and when his palazzo was damaged and pillaged during the Allied Invasion of Sicily in WWII, he turned to writing historical fiction as a way of somehow imaginatively restoring the fortunes of his family. The Leopard is set in the time of the Risorgimento, and Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, is based on Lampedusa’s own great-grandfather.

In the novel we see the Prince having to choose between the age-old traditions of his class, and breaking those traditions in order to ensure his family’s survival. It’s a story of decay, mortality, loss of power and money, and the impact of political systems. There’s the inevitability of the family’s decline and yet, as readers, we watch it happen with sorrow.

A memorable setting

Sicily forms such a memorable setting to the story. The largest island in the Mediterranean, it has a rich and unique culture, an extraordinary history and, in the 19th century, an undeveloped economy and great poverty. Lampedusa makes his readers see the back streets, the buildings crumbling into ruin, the chapels and churches, and the ballroom where the Prince dances with the beautiful Angelica while the crowd watches admiringly.

Make the time to watch Visconti’s glorious 1963 film of the novel with Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale. Did you know that all Burt Lancaster’s lines were spoken in English and then dubbed into Italian for the Italian version, while the other actors all spoke Italian and were dubbed into English for the English version? And that incredible ball scene lasts for 45 minutes – it would take a brave director to spend so much time on one scene today!

Join me to explore this magnificent novel and the life of the man who wrote it.

Purchase the complete Video Talk (just $15 AU)

This Video Talk is a real treat! In it, I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. It is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen. Buy it now and receive a link to view your video immediately.

100% guaranteed. If you don’t feel my talk is great value for money, please let me know why and I will refund your purchase price.

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Just $15 AU. Buy it now – you’ll receive access details by return email.

Discuss it with me

The story of an aristocratic family in Sicily, whose fortunes are fading rapidly, is considered one of the best historical novels ever written. Do you agree? Let’s discuss it here.

Just LOVED your talk on ‘Miss Jean Brodie’. Thank you so much for taking me to Edinburgh as well as into the life of Muriel Spark. I never knew the character of Jean was based on one of Muriel Spark’s own teachers.
Fabulous, spellbinding lecture, Susannah.
I’ve just watched your video of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and it was delightful as always. I can’t overstate how much I’m enjoying this series, and how greatly you’re expanding my knowledge and interests (I’d read this book some time ago but the talk has added yet more books to my must-read list!).
With your joie de vie and passion for literature, you will always be in your prime Susannah!

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Featured image credit- Alain Delon & Claudia Cardinale, The Leopard, 1963 Titanus Italian movie adaptation,

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