DI LAMPEDUSA, Giuseppe. The Leopard. London: Collins and Harvill Press, 1960.
8vo, original green cloth with lettering in gilt to spine; characteristic colourful dust wrapper designed by Hans Tisdall; pp. 254, [ii]; a near-fine copy, the jacket with ever-so-slight toning to the upper edge, a touch faded to spine, and one small closed tear (2cm) to the upper panel; a superior copy, nonetheless.
First UK edition.
Originally written in Italy in 1958, the first English translation of The Leopard was carried out by Archibald Colquhoun, a leading translator who worked in British intelligence during the war. He translated another three of Lampedusa's novels, including Places of My Infancy, The Siren and Selected Writings and Two Stories and a Memory, and he later took the position of dialogue consultant on Visconti’s film adaptation.
Lampedusa was born into an aristocratic family and, with no children of his own, was acutely aware that he would be the last Prince of Lampedusa, he began to write about life in Sicily. When he died in 1957, the novel had not yet been published, but eventually found a home with Feltrinelli, who had made his name by being the official publisher of Doctor Zhivago. The novel, with its portrayal of the Italian Aristocracy, ran to fifty-two editions within the first four months.
The Leopard is now widely considered to be one of the most important modern Italian novels. "Reading and rereading it," wrote E.M. Forster, "has made me realize how many ways there are of being alive, how many doors there are, close to one, which someone else's touch may open."(NY Times).