The Leopard Author:Giuseppe di Lampedusa The Leopard records the struggles of a man to adjust to a changing world. The story follows the family of its title character, Sicilian nobleman Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, through the events of the Risorgimento. , and the bulk of the novel is told from his individual perspective. As the novel opens in 1860, Garibaldi's Redshirts are... more » about to topple the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, completing the unification of Italy. Don Fabrizio finds the corpse of a government soldier killed by the Redshirts on his property, forcing him to acknowledge the coming change in Sicilian society, even as his family continues its empty aristocratic life in blissful ignorance.
We meet Tancredi Falconeri, the son of Don Fabrizio's sister. Tancredi is handsome and witty, with grand ambitions but no fortune behind him to allow him to fulfill his goals. With the family at their summer retreat in Donnafugata, Tancredi appears set to wed his cousin (and Don Fabrizio's daughter), Concetta, when he sees Angelica Sed?ra, a girl of seventeen who has just returned to Donnafugata after four years at a finishing school in Florence. Formerly awkward and unpolished, Angelica is now a stunning beauty and exhibits a formal if somewhat superficial polish that more than suffices to catch Tancredi's eye. The two immediately begin a courtship that includes several walks through the unused and decaying rooms of the Salina family palace, providing the reader with a metaphorical rendering of the decline of the Italian aristocracy's importance and moral relevance.
As the novel progresses, Don Fabrizio finds himself in an existential crisis that none of his family members or confidants can understand; aristocracy was once its own reason for being, but with that gone, what is Don Fabrizio's purpose in life? Tancredi's marriage to Angelica serves as a symbol of the transfer of power from the patrician to the plebeian, from the privileged to the opportunistic.