Archivi tag: Gabriele D’Annunzio

A Martian of the world and of the word

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We miss Flaiano. In these uncertain and confused times, in this autumn of the world between global crises and loss of identity, opportunism and new barbarism, we miss him. Flaiano were useful, now, to the whole world but above all to Italians, an ingenious and disenchanted people, still caught in the trap of considering cunning more important than intelligence.
With his wit and his irreverent humour, Flaiano would comfort us in his own way by saying “Come on, the best is past”, and laughing we might remind ourselves that the best must be imagined and constructed, not just waited.
Ennio Flaiano, writer, journalist, humorist, screenwriter, film critic and playwright, has given a precise picture of Italy and of the Italians in their multiple facets. Like a diamond cut, his writing, nuanced, dissected, whipped and mocked our vices and our virtues and did so in the name of a profound and highly personal faith in the word. “I believe only in the word. The word hurts, the word convinces, the word subsides. This, to me, is the meaning of writing. ”
For Flaiano the word is never just a sound or a graphic expression of a concept, it is first and foremost itself a show: comedy, tragedy, farce, a lie which contains innumerable truths. The word is a constant and yet always new and unpredictable performance, staged by the Nearly Stable Company of Life.
But in Flaiano the show of the word never means complacency. It is no coincidence then that he deliberately chose a tight angle to critically observe reality, a sort of border land located halfway between involvement and detachment, passion and humor. Thus he became the “Martian” that he described in his famous story. And his space ship is always subtracted to radar detection and hunting of any flock of ordinary well-meaning groups of people. He saves himself by flying over and detaching from those clichés that he always stigmatized.
“Man is a thinking animal, and thinking makes him soar above the surface. This is my faith. Maybe the only one. But it is enough for me to keep following the show of the world”, wrote Flaiano, and this statement contains a clear position and the confirmation that only the thought, once turned into word, gives us a clue, and a higher knowledge, or at least a free one, not conditioned by clichés.
Flaiano was born in Pescara, the city also of D’Annunzio. The same place can produce these two distant visions of the same circus of lights, shadow plays, sounds, noises, mysterious tunnels and glittering carousels. The same land of Abruzzo creates the bard, the soldier poet, the imaginative creator of verses and slogans, and, a few decades later, the rhetorical desecrator, the caustic man by the appearance of a traveling salesman able to undermine bombastic certainties. Both D’Annunzio and Flaiano share a voracious passion for the speech, a manic attraction and two very different and yet inimitable forms of acrobatics.

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In A Martian in Rome, Flaiano wrote: “The word is used to hide the thought, and thought to hide the truth. And the truth strikes those who dare to face her. ”
Better, then, to see truth already filtered by a screen, or from a side, like a movie that uses its fictitious nature to represent reality. Thus trying to make people laugh when it is appropriate to weep, and vice versa, or induce both, though saving themselves from the unbearable gaze of Medusa that annihilates and hides the thought. The first significant event in the life of Flaiano is already in itself a script, written by an author named ironic fate, with an immense sense of humor. He, Ennio Flaiano, the last of seven children of Cetteo Flaiano, arrives in Rome in 1922 traveling on a crowded train of fascists who flocked to the capital on the occasion of the fateful march. Evidently it was perhaps already written that he had to speak about that event, producing a series of anecdotes that photograph that specific era and yet immortalize human characters subtracted to any chronological connotation.
For Flaiano Rome was not only a chosen home city. It was also an inexhaustible source of ideas, gestures, biting sarcasm, harsh inventions and genius. A source from which to draw in small sips, just enough to appreciate the taste without absorbing poisons, small cunning, gossip, and the chatter of the great fashionable circles, carefully dodged.
He enrolled in architecture but did not complete his studies, consistent with that sense of solid and structured elusiveness, true to the nature that he himself admirably summed up with the phrase “With the feet strongly rooted on the clouds”, the motto of his whole existence, reported also on the tombstone placed on his home in Rome.

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The script, written by reality, continues when he moved to Viale delle Milizie sharing a room with Orfeo Tamburi. The words, even the names of the streets, seem to pursue his humour, that sentiment to the contrary innate in him. At that time he met among others Mario Pannunzio and Leo Longanesi and began collaborating with various magazines.
He joined the War of Ethiopia, and, even in this biographical event next real horror there will be room for memory and testimony. Years later will born from that experience, written in just over three months, the novel Time to Kill, winner of the first edition of the Premio Strega.
The comic and the tragic meet continously in his life. As his presence at the tables of Roman literary cafes but above all of the restaurants, real stages of fierce and brilliant jokes, testified in a sublime way, for example, by the faithful clients of the King of the Half Portion in C’eravamo tanto amati directed by Ettore Scola.

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Flaiano in those years married a teacher of mathematics, as if to give a measure to the flow of anarchist life, but the tragic face of life goes beyond any taxonomic classification, beyond formulas and equations: his daughter Luisa, born in 1942, a few months later shows the first signs of encephalopathy that seriously affected the whole of her existence.
The film world calls him, attraction and natural outlet, in a conflictual relationship, never resolved; this is the ideal place in which to act and set in motion his ideas and paradoxes and on the other end a place of vanity and compromises that he always refused. At first he worked as a film critic for several magazines before landing on the script.
He works with many of the most significant directors of the postwar period, but remains in the memory above all his long and fruitful partnership with Federico Fellini. Two similar characters and yet very different, Fellini and Flaiano, two shynesses comparing, two grumpinesses of different flavor and specific methods of attack and defense. But with the shared pleasure of portraying that side of the world that fascinates and horrifies, the grotesque scrutinized with amused and ferocious attention, perhaps to highlight the surreal side hidden in the depths of each of us and combining like in the melancholy and endless carousel of ” 8½ “.
Flaiano also worked as a journalist. In the sixties he began a period of travels and international relations, in Spain, in Paris (where he wrote for Louis Malle), and the United States (for an Oscar for “8½”), then again in Paris (where he writes a script taken from Proust’s Recherche for René Clément), in Prague and in Israel. He collaborated among others with Blasetti, Monicelli, Antonioni, Scola.

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The “bilocation of intelligence”, his way of grasping the ambivalence of the real, has allowed him to see the world without being incorporated, avoiding the approval mechanisms, the commonplace and the apparent golden world of the star system. His being in the reality and yet staying outside, has produced some of the finest screenplays of the Italian cinema of the fifties and sixties, and an endless series of aphorisms that still have the power to portray the character, the way of being and thinking of the Italians.
“The worst that can happen to a genius is to be understood,” wrote Flaiano. Well, I can not say if the Italians have understood his genius too much or too little. How to comment otherwise the news and images of “hard-working” employees who stamp the card in underwear and then go back to bed? Or the apartments rented by the City of Rome to the usual unknown (or known, friends and cousins ​​of other parents of the parents) to the price of a coffee a month? We miss Flaiano’s sharp and salacious criticism like a sailor misses the compass on a stormy sea.
We miss Flaiano. Not for a sloppy exaltation almost hagiographic or a nostalgic memory out of time, but for a solid acknowledgment: the absence of figures able to grasp his spirit and take his heritage. After all, as he himself had predicted, in our country exists a sort of “cult of lack of personality”, and in particular young people “have almost all the courage of the opinions of the others.”
Flaiano, although deeply disillusioned, showed us that you can enclose the world in a story, a sequence of images, or even in a sentence, in which as if by magic you can immediately grasp both sides of the moon. He could make us this gift because he was indeed a Martian coming from irony galaxies and dazed lucidity. He could give it to us because he was able to read reality without succumbing to the banality patina of which it is sometimes cloaked, using the word as a tool to dissect and reconstruct the world.
In these times everything flows quickly, and the highest thought is worth the externalization of a tweet. In this world where people don’t seem to read stories but they all make storytelling, Flaiano’s brilliant synthesis and lucid and visionary foresight would be necessary more than ever. But perhaps, being Flaiano always a step forward or a step to the side of reality, today, with his withering aphorisms, he would probably invite us to rediscover the deeper value of silence, of listening, of reflection.
And perhaps, since he was a genius indeed, once more he wouldn’t be understood.

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Un marziano del mondo e della parola

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Ci manca Flaiano. Manca a questi tempi incerti e confusi, in questo autunno del mondo tra crisi globali e perdite d’identità, tra opportunismi e nuove barbarie, ma manca soprattutto agli italiani, un popolo ingegnoso e disincantato, forse troppo, tanto da scambiare ancora o troppo spesso la furbizia per intelligenza.
Con la sua arguzia e la sua dissacrante ironia, Flaiano ci avrebbe confortato a suo modo dicendoci “Coraggio, il meglio è passato”, e avremmo forse ricordato a noi stessi che il meglio va immaginato e costruito e non semplicemente aspettato.
Parlare di Ennio Flaiano, sceneggiatore, scrittore, giornalista, umorista, critico cinematografico e drammaturgo, è come raccontare l’Italia e gli italiani nelle loro molteplici sfaccettature. Come un diamante la sua scrittura ha tagliato, sviscerato, sferzato e irriso i nostri vizi e le nostre virtù e lo ha fatto in nome di una fede profonda e assolutamente personale nella parola. “Io credo soltanto nella parola. La parola ferisce, la parola convince, la parola placa. Questo, per me, è il senso dello scrivere”.
Per Flaiano la parola non è mai solo espressione sonora o grafica di un concetto, è prima di ogni altra cosa essa stessa spettacolo, commedia, tragedia, farsa, una menzogna che contiene innumerevoli verità. Rappresentazione costante e tuttavia sempre nuova e imprevedibile, allestita dalla Compagnia Quasi Stabile della Vita.
Ma in Flaiano lo spettacolo della parola non cede mai all’autocompiacimento. Non è un caso quindi che abbia volutamente scelto una posizione defilata per osservare criticamente la realtà, una sorta di terra di confine posta a metà strada tra il coinvolgimento e il distacco, la passione e l’umorismo. In tal modo si è rivelato egli stesso quel “marziano” che ha descritto nel suo famoso racconto. E la sua navicella, inafferrabile, si è sempre sottratta ai radar e ai caccia di qualsiasi stormo di ordinari benpensanti, sorvolando e distaccandosi da quei luoghi comuni che ha sempre stigmatizzato.

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«L’uomo è un animale pensante, e quando pensa non può essere che in alto. È questa la mia fede. Forse l’unica. Ma mi basta per seguire ancora con curiosità lo spettacolo del mondo», scriveva Flaiano. Questa affermazione contiene una netta presa di posizione e la conferma che solo il pensiero, una volta tramutato in parola, ci offre una chiave di lettura, e una conoscenza più elevata, o almeno più libera, non condizionata da cliché.
Flaiano nasce a Pescara, città anche di D’Annunzio, in grado di produrre questi due sguardi così distanti del medesimo circo del mondo fatto di luci, giochi d’ombra, suoni, rumori, tunnel misteriosi e caroselli rutilanti. La stessa terra d’Abruzzo genera il vate, il poeta soldato, l’immaginifico creatore di versi e slogan, e, qualche decennio dopo, l’antiretorico dissacratore, l’uomo della sintesi caustica, lo scrittore dall’aspetto di commesso viaggiatore che scardina le roboanti certezze. In comune una passione vorace per l’eloquio, un’attrazione maniacale e due diversissime e al tempo stesso inimitabili forme di funambolismo.

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In Un marziano a Roma, Flaiano scrive: «La parola serve a nascondere il pensiero, il pensiero a nascondere la verità. E la verità fulmina chi osa guardarla in faccia.»
Meglio allora vederla già filtrata da uno schermo, la verità, o da una posizione laterale, come in un film che usa la sua natura fittizia per rappresentare la realtà. Cercando così di far ridere quando è il caso di piangere e viceversa, o indurre entrambe le cose, salvandosi però da quello sguardo insostenibile di Medusa che annienta e nasconde il pensiero. La prima vicenda significativa della vita di Flaiano è già di per sé una sceneggiatura, scritta da un ironico autore chiamato Destino, dotato di immenso senso dell’umorismo. Lui, Flaiano Ennio, ultimo dei sette figli di Cetteo Flaiano, arriva a Roma nel 1922 viaggiando su un treno affollato di fascisti che affluivano nella capitale in occasione della fatidica Marcia. Evidentemente era forse già scritto che ne dovesse parlare, producendo una serie di aneddoti che fotografano un’epoca e che immortalano tuttavia caratteri umani sottratti ad ogni connotazione cronologica.
Per Flaiano Roma oltre essere la sua città elettiva è stata soprattutto una fonte inesauribile di spunti, di gesti, di sarcasmo graffiante, di invenzioni becere e geniali. Una sorgente da cui attingere a piccoli sorsi, quanto basta per apprezzarne il gusto senza assorbirne i veleni, le piccole furberie, i pettegolezzi e il chiacchiericcio dei grandi salotti alla moda, schivati con cura.
Si iscrive ad architettura ma non completa gli studi, coerente con quel senso di solida e strutturata impalpabilità, fedele a quella sua natura che egli stesso sintetizzò mirabilmente con la frase “Con i piedi fortemente poggiati sulle nuvole”, motto della sua intera esistenza, riportata anche sulla lapide posta a futura memoria sulla sua casa romana.
La sceneggiatura non scritta, o scritta sul cemento della realtà, prosegue quando si stabilisce in Viale delle Milizie condividendo una stanza con il pittore Orfeo Tamburi. I nomi, le parole, perfino le targhe agli angoli delle strade, sembrano inseguire il suo umorismo, quel sentimento del contrario in lui innato. In quel periodo conosce tra gli altri Mario Pannunzio e Leo Longanesi e inizia a collaborare con varie riviste.
Partecipa alla Guerra d’Etiopia, e, anche in questo evento biografico accanto all’orrore reale ci sarà spazio per la memoria, per il ricordo e la testimonianza. Anni dopo ne nascerà, scritto in poco più di tre mesi, il romanzo Tempo di uccidere, vincitore della prima edizione del Premio Strega.
Il comico e il tragico si rincorrono nella sua vita, in un appuntamento immancabile. Come la sua presenza ai tavoli dei caffè letterari romani ma soprattutto delle trattorie, veri palcoscenici di battute feroci e geniali, testimoniate in modo sublime, ad esempio, dai fedeli avventori del Re della Mezza Porzione nel film C’eravamo tanto amati di Ettore Scola.

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Flaiano sposa in quegli anni un’insegnante di matematica, quasi a voler dare una misura al fluire anarcoide della vita, ma il volto tragico della vita va oltre ogni catalogazione tassonomica, oltre ogni formula ed equazione: la figlia Luisa, nata nel 1942, pochi mesi più tardi manifesta i primi segni di una encefalopatia che ne condizionerà gravemente l’intera esistenza.
Il mondo del cinema lo chiama a sé, attrazione e sbocco naturale, in un rapporto conflittuale, mai risolto; è questo il luogo ideale in cui far agire e mettere in moto le sue idee e i suoi paradossi e sul fronte opposto luogo di vanità e compromessi a lui alieni. In un primo momento lavora come critico cinematografico per diverse riviste per poi approdare alla sceneggiatura.

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Collabora con molti dei più significativi registi del dopoguerra, ma resta nella memoria soprattutto il suo lungo e fruttuoso sodalizio con Federico Fellini. Due personaggi simili e diversissimi, Fellini e Flaiano, due timidezze a confronto, due scontrosità di sapore differente e con specifiche modalità di difesa e di attacco. Ma con il gusto condiviso di ritrarre quel lato del mondo che affascina e inorridisce, il grottesco scrutato con attenzione divertita e feroce, forse per evidenziare il lato surreale nascosto nei meandri di ciascuno di noi come in quel malinconico e interminabile girotondo di “8½”.

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All’attività di sceneggiatore Flaiano affianca quella di giornalista. Negli anni sessanta inizia un periodo di viaggi e relazioni internazionali, in Spagna, a Parigi (dove scrive per Louis Malle), e negli Stati Uniti (per l’Oscar a “8½”), poi di nuovo a Parigi (dove scrive una sceneggiatura tratta dalla Recherche di Proust per René Clément), a Praga e in Israele. Collabora tra gli altri con Blasetti, Monicelli, Antonioni, Scola.
La “bilocazione dell’intelligenza”, quel suo modo di cogliere l’ambivalenza del reale, gli ha permesso di osservare il mondo senza esserne inglobato, rifuggendo dai meccanismi dell’omologazione, del luogo comune e dall’apparente mondo dorato dello star system. Questo suo essere dentro la realtà restandone fuori, ha prodotto alcune delle sceneggiature più significative del cinema italiano degli anni cinquanta e sessanta e una serie innumerevole di aforismi che ancora oggi hanno il potere di ritrarre l’indole, il modo di essere e di pensare degli italiani.
“Il peggio che può capitare ad un genio è di essere compreso”, scriveva Flaiano. Ebbene, non saprei dire se noi italiani il suo genio lo abbiamo compreso troppo o troppo poco. Come commentare altrimenti le notizie e le immagini dei “solerti” impiegati che timbrano il cartellino in mutande per poi tornarsene a letto? Oppure gli appartamenti concessi in affitto dal Comune di Roma ai soliti ignoti (o noti, cognati e cugini di altri noti) al prezzo di un caffè al mese? Una sua critica puntuale e salace manca come la bussola ad un marinaio nel mare in tempesta.
Ci manca Flaiano. Non per una sdolcinata esaltazione quasi agiografica o per un amarcord fuori tempo, ma per una concreta e solida presa d’atto: l’assenza oggi di figure che abbiano saputo coglierne lo spirito e riceverne l’eredità. Del resto, come egli stesso aveva preconizzato, nel nostro paese vige una sorta di “culto della mancanza di personalità”, e in particolare i giovani “hanno quasi tutti il coraggio delle opinioni altrui”.
Flaiano pur essendo stato un campione della disillusione ci ha mostrato che è possibile racchiudere il mondo in una storia, in un racconto, in una sequenza di immagini, o addirittura in una sola frase, in cui come per incanto è possibile cogliere immediatamente entrambe le facce della luna. Questo dono ha potuto farcelo in qualità di marziano, proveniente da galassie di ironia e stralunata lucidità. E ha potuto offrircelo perché era capace di leggere la realtà senza cedere alla patina di banalità di cui questa a volte si ammanta, utilizzando la parola come strumento per sezionare e ricomporre il mondo.
In questi tempi in cui tutto scorre velocemente, in cui il pensiero più alto vale l’esternazione di un tweet, in un mondo in cui non si scrivono più storie ma tutti fanno storytelling, risulta più che mai evidente la sua geniale capacità di sintesi e la sua lucida e visionaria lungimiranza. Ma forse, essendo Flaiano sempre un passo avanti o un passo di lato di fronte alla realtà, oggi, con un suo fulminante aforisma, ci avrebbe con ogni probabilità invitato a riscoprire il valore più profondo del silenzio, dell’ascolto, della riflessione.
E forse, anzi sicuramente, da genio qual’era, ancora una volta non sarebbe stato compreso.

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On the tracks of a European Sicilian man

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“Once upon a time there was a prince … ” educated, proud, Sicilian and at the same time a citizen of the world. Hard to say where the Prince of Lampedusa starts and where the Prince of Salina ends. For everyone The Gattopardo is the iconic novel that continues to fascinate generations of readers and whose footsteps are imprinted in our DNA. But the man, the writer and the traveler can be summarized in the single figure of the “Prince”? The question mark is a must when it comes to discern between the man and the literary character and even more when we try to find a key to understand an author known for a single great novel. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa is a complex figure that can not be read only in the light of his famous book or for his being a Sicilian. He was much more, and, through the exploration of his historical, geographical and biographical routes we will try to draw a portrait of the author, different from the typical baroque and inconsistent frames.

The result of this exploration will be the traits of a writer and a man with many polyphonic voices. Lampedusa, first of all. It is not useless to note that what for him was the starting point for many people today is a point of arrival, the goal of a hope. Lampedusa is an offshoot of Europe in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, land border and port known for landings, drownings and trafficking of human lives from the coast of nearby Africa. The story changes but remains, despite the differences, the constant, immutable characteristics of human beings, the moods, the miseries, the need for a ground of certainty and, on the opposite side, the flow of change that eradicates and upsets.

For these and other mysterious reasons, for this mixture of ancient and modern, poetic and rational, anthropological and philosophical, Tomasi remains an author still able to meld different characteristics, generating viewpoints, influences and discussions among readers and critics.

His Gattopardo has become over the years much more than a successful novel and a popular film. It has become an icon, an inspiration for endless quotations. It has become a way of saying, the symbol of an era and a way of thinking, almost identifiable with a copyright, such as an aspirin or a coke. As it often happens, however, in literature and in life, in that long windy point oscillating that unites and divides, between the words and the truth, the man and the work, there is a beautiful stretch of beach. In the specific case of Tomasi, the waves in question are those between Scylla and Charybdis, between Sicily and the Continent, understood also as Europe.

As happened to another complex and multifaceted Sicilian author, Luigi Pirandello, Tomasi also travelled to the north. In five years of intense journey, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was able to get to know some of the major European capitals. He was looking for the authentic spirit of places and peoples, the true face to compare with that of his Mediterranean island. He discovered the beauty of Paris, and found himself particularly at ease in London, a city that he found full of bonhomie. But also explored the darker charm of Berlin. He visited museums, but was attracted also by the busy streets and tracks already made legendary by the great books of the past. He frequented fashionable salons but was attracted by everything, assimilating facts and voices with vivid curiosity. He traveled with a repertoire of quotations and wrote letters of lush fantasy in which he confirmed his thirst for knowledge.

Although he was much different from another imaginative storyteller like Gabriele D’Annunzio, he also wanted to give a spectacular image of himself. This insatiable verve found an effective synthesis in his “Travels in Europe. Correspondence 1925-1930 “. Tomasi di Lampedusa, shy, refined, passionate about comparative literature, gives the impression of traveling by choice, for fun and for inner enrichment, for the need to break away from the deep roots that nourish him and lock him at the same time. He travels for the desire to make its culture actually European. To be a man of the world, even before being a writer.

Duke of Palma di Montechiaro and Prince of Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi was born in Palermo on December 23th 1896. He graduated in classic studies in Rome where he also attended the Faculty of Law, but did not graduate because he was called to arms. He was a soldier of the Italian army during the defeat of Caporetto and was taken prisoner by the Austrians. Then he experienced the horrors of war, the most raw and real, the violence that cancels the gap between noble class, bourgeois and the men of the people. A condition that makes clear and cruelly true the fragility of the human condition, the ferocity of time and history, but also the strength to keep close to a beauty that is the only source of survival of humanity.

Tomasi di Lampedusa was often a guest of his cousin, the poet Lucio Piccolo. Thanks to him, he had the opportunity to attend high-level literary circles, as in 1954 when he took part to a literary conference in San Pellegrino Terme where he met, among others, Eugenio Montale and Maria Bellonci.

Upon returning from that trip, like a volcano that reaches the ideal level of pressure, Tomasi began writing The Leopard, the romance of a lifetime, of many possible lifetimes. The novel will be completed two years later, in 1956.

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His novel is defined as an example of ” poetry in prose”. Because the poetic form has the capability to bring together and synthesize contradictory instances and feelings through the coincidence of opposites. The link to the past was a mirror to talk about the present and the future.

And probably, it was precisely this strange ambivalence between modern and old that caused the rejection of the book by many publishing houses it had been presented to. Rejected first by Mondadori and then by Einaudi in both cases by Vittorini, the novel was discovered and enjoyed by Bassani who proposed it to Feltrinelli who finally published it. And it was a resounding success. Unfortunately Tomasi di Lampedusa was already dead in bitterness and discouragement of not being able to see his work published. 
The Gattopardo had a quite unique destiny. Tomasi di Lampedusa was an outsider for the official literary world, which remained in the habit of rejecting the new, no matter the value and origin.
But here and now, after the affair came to an end with the resounding success of the book which the author could not benefit in life, we can try to capture elements of the work and of the writer in a wider perspective.
Tomasi di Lampedusa was certainly, to quote Montale, "the author of just one book ", but in this volume he has enclosed the whole of his European experience assimilated without preconceptions, with genuine passion. The Gattopardo is the result of a work of accumulation of notes and sensations lasted years, written with a form of expression that can combine the metaphorical synthesis of poetry and the documentary accuracy of the historical novel. The novel was both classic and forward-looking. It was ahead of its time, while talking about an era that had passed. Placed in this border land, the book needed a slow assimilation before being perceived by critics as a work of absolute value. The rest is history: of literature and cinematography. The Gattopardo, the Leopard, is the result of a graft: the European culture implanted on the ancient branches of Sicily, the north wind on the silences and the air stopped on too many centuries of inaction, as stressed the Prince of Salina in a famous passage: “Sleep, my dear Chevalley, sleep, that is what Sicilians want, and they will always hate anyone who tries to wake them even in order to bring them the most beautiful gifts”
The book transcends the novel. The book is so rich in content to offer multiple perspectives: historical, philosophical, psychological, social, geo-political. But it is also a brave book, in which the look on the cultural legacies that have created the humus of mafia is absolutely sincere.

As in geological layers, this book goes far beyond the historical fresco, over the story, over the characters, the places, the costumes. In this context  we can read the quotation for excellence, the one that stands on the novel and identifies it immediately:  If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change. The Leopard tells us about the the doubts and the hopes of men and women of their time in front of a changing world that redefines values and styles. It tells how men face the change and how identities, histories and culture face the time.

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Considering The Leopard a conservative book is for the most a short-sighted attitude: there is, alive and present, the historical awareness of the evils of Sicily. Seen not as microcosm in itself but as a symbol of an ancient way of living and thinking forced to look with different eyes to new times. There is a form of loud and clear social criticism in the book. The love for his land is not blind.

The characters of the novel sublimely wrapped in humanity, are chiseled in their ambivalence. This probably is the key word: ambivalence. The novel is at a crucial hub of Italian history and beyond: the moment when you realize that a certain society, a certain way of life and thought is intended to be outmoded, by history. Tomasi, however, does not live with a passive and resigned attitude. He is not an uncritical cantor of the past, and does not unconditionally enhances the old days, “les neiges d'antan”. The core of his thought is the will to bring in the new times what is best in tradition and authentic bond of the land of origin. It is also thanks to Tomasi di Lampedusa if Italians are aware of their great gift and their condemnation.
The distant, melancholy and nostalgic look of the Prince of Salina on the one hand, the narrative style of the Author-Prince, must not mislead. The book screams out a timeless truth, reveals the illusions, the traps and mirages of rapid changes, the dangers of cunning and turncoats, teaches us to look beyond the surface, beyond the contingent things, in a perspective that Leibniz should call sub specie aeternitate.
The Leopard is a work with a high educational and intergenerational value, because every era, as well as any man, is suspended between two extremes, one that changes at every moment, and a past that escapes, slips away, tending to become unrecognizable. We were the leopards, the lions, those who take our place will be jackals and sheep, and the whole lot of us - leopards, lions, jackals and sheep - will continue to think ourselves the salt of the earth. In this statement, within this tension, is perhaps the key to success and the timeless appeal of the book and its author: the meaning of human limits but also the desire to carve out with tenacity a space in the inscrutable drawing of time.
 Lampedusa 1

Ivano Mugnaini