Il Gattopardo at Fifty (1958-2008)

I only read about this by chance, unfortunately – also because I’m committed to another meeting on the same day and sadly won’t be able to attend.  But I thought it might be worth posting in case other enthusiasts of Il Gattopardo might be interested, and also because it because it ties in with my earlier post on this extraordinary author: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.

The Italian Cultural Institute in Edinburgh have organised a one-day International Conference to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary (officially, last year – but that’s fine!) of the publication of Lampedusa’s classic novel.  One of the speakers, David Gilmour, wrote the only biography of Lampedusa currently available in English (The Last Leopard) and would be extremely interesting to listen to.  Moreover, the conference will start with a paper by Lampedusa’s nephew and heir, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, adding a very personal perspective to the proceedings.

The Pantheon reissue (2007) of Colquhoun’s translation has a fascinating foreword by Lanza Tomasi (trans. by Guido Waldman) explaining the history of the book’s publication (and editing), as well as an appendix containing other biographical material.

One crucial piece of information that appears in the foreword (p. xiii) is the existence of a letter from Lampedusa to his close friend, Baron Enrico Merlo di Tagliavia, in which he describes the, as yet, unpublished work.  The letter is concise – like the book it describes (“each word has been weighed up and many things are not made explicit but only hinted at”).  However, Lampedusa added a postscript, scribbled on the back of the envelop, whose purport can only be described as illuminating:

N.B.: the dog Bendicò is a vitally important character and practically the key to the novel.”

I would love to hear Davide Messina on the subject!

The Conference will be held in the National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh):


9.30am: Welcome and Opening addresses

Chair: Davide Messina (University of Edinburgh)

Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi

The Leopard at fifty: Rethinking and appreciation

David Gilmour

Lampedusa: A sense of history

11.15am: Coffee break

Chair: Derek Duncan (University of Bristol)

Giorgio Ficara (University of Torino)

Lo spirito del luogo del Gattopardo (in Italian)

Joseph Farrell (University of Strathclyde)

The Sicily of Tomasi di Lampedusa and Leonardo Sciascia

Lunch break

Chair: Jon Usher (University of Edinburgh)

David Forgacs (University College London)

The Prince and his critics: The reception of Il Gattopardo

Mercedes Monmany de la Torre

Recepción e influencia de El Gatopardo en España y en los escritores en lengua española (in Spanish)

Federica Pedriali (University of Edinburgh)

Gli ultimi della serie, la serie degli ultimi: Gadda, Svevo, Tomasi (in Italian)

Coffee Break

Chair: Joseph Farrell (University of Strathclyde)

Jon Usher (University of Edinburgh)

Squaring the circle: The Leopard between cyclical time and historical novel

Derek Duncan (University of Bristol)

The island of Lampedusa: Postcolonial Italy and the view from the South

Davide Messina (University of Edinburgh)

Ad limina Gattopardorum: The everlasting Leopard and the decadent Bendicò

: Round table discussion

Chair: Chris Taylor (National Library of Scotland)


Special screening of Il Gattopardo (1963, The Leopard) by Luchino Visconti

The conference is FREE but registration is essential.

And if anyone goes, please let me know what it was like!

One Reply to “Il Gattopardo at Fifty (1958-2008)”

  1. Where can I find more comments on the phrase
    “N.B.: the dog Bendicò is a vitally important character and practically the key to the novel.”

    regarding the novel “Gattopardo”
    Yours very grateful,
    Edison Musa

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