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Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa


Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was born in 1896 in Palermo into an aristocratic family on the decline. He initially had a private tutor but then attended the local high school. He enrolled in the law faculty at the University of Genoa but then switched to the University of Rome. He was unable to complete his classes, as he joined the army in 1916. He fought for Italy in the Italian Alps and was wounded and captured but managed to escape. He returned to Palermo where he had a minor breakdown. He did not resume his studies but travelled a lot, often with his mother. He spent considerable time in London and Paris and also read extensively in European literature. While in London, he met Alessandra Wolff, daughter of a Latvian aristocrat, and they married in Riga but he continued to live in Palermo while she stayed in Riga. She was forced to leave Riga in 1943 and came to Rome but was reluctant to come to Palermo, both because of the war and because she did not get on with her mother-in-law. The same year the Lampedusa family palace was destroyed by an American air attack. He bought his great-grandfather’s palace and moved there. He continued to spend time reading and writing about literature but it was only when his cousin, Lucio Piccolo, published a book of poetry that Lampedusa, inspired by a sense of rivalry, decided to write his great novel. While writing it, he took a break to write his autobiography, but it was never completed. He returned to writing Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) but, when it was finished, it was rejected by publishers. He died in 1957 of lung cancer, with the book still unpublished. It was finally published by Feltrinelli the following year, after having been read by the novelist Giorgio Bassani. Though criticized for its decadence, it went on to have considerable success with the Italian public.


Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (in Italian)


1958 Il Gattopardo (The Leopard)
1961 Racconti (stories in: Two Stories and a Memory; The Siren and Selected Writings; Places of My Infancy)
1970 Invito alle lettere francesi del Cinquecento
1977 Lezioni su Stendhal
1979 Lettere a Licy: Un matrimonio epistolare: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa e Alessandra Tomasi Wolff
1990 Letteratura inglese
1990 The Siren and Selected Writings
2006 Viaggio in Europa. Epistolario 1925-1930