Il Gattopardo at fifty
- Transcript of a short documentary on the visit to the National Library of Scotland of Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi in 2009. Senore Tomasi is the adoptive son of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of 'Il Gattopardo' ('The Leopard'). More about this film
Lady Balfour of Burleigh, NLS Trustee:
Here we are on this beautiful May day in the National Library of Scotland, thrilled to have with us not only a member of Lampedusa's family, but also he has brought with him the manuscript of the book we all know so well 'Il Gattopardo', 'The Leopard'.
Title: 'Il Gattopardo at Fifty': A symposium held at The National Library of Scotland in May 2009
Dr Davide Messina, Symposium Chair, University of Edinburgh:
This 50th anniversary is the lasting celebration of a classic. An insightful Louis Aragon in 1959 said that this is 'one of the great novels of all time and perhaps,' he said, 'the only Italian novel'.
Cate Newton, Director of Collections and Research, NLS:
We've collaborated for quite some time now with the Italian Cultural Institute on a series of events. This is arguably one of the most prestigious, and it's a fantastic celebration of the 50th anniversary of 'The Leopard'. And we're very pleased indeed to have partnered again with the Cultural Institute and with the University of Edinburgh, and to have so many prestigious speakers here today.
Professor Luigino Zecchin, Director, Italian Cultural Institute, Edinburgh:
The point is to establish why the young people approach for the first time 'The Leopard' and why the not-so-young people continue to read this book.
Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, Adoptive Son of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of 'Il Gattopardo':
We have the manuscript, we have a miniature of the main character, the Prince of Salina - these are two bits of the collection. But the morning has been highly interesting because I see there's some real studies.
Sir David Gilmour, Author of 'The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa':
Certainly Lampedusa didn't venerate unification as the sacred event of Italian history. In his youth, he had been critical of the political system it had produced and he always remained sceptical of the origins and achievements of united Italy. For him, 1860 in Sicily was little more than a change of dynasty - Turinese instead of the Napolitano dialect, he said. And the substitution of one class by another - the new grasping middle-class Mafioso-types enriching themselves by grabbing the church lands at derisory prices after unification.
Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi:
The novel has always had a greater impact abroad because it is universal, in the sense it deals with time. It explains how the time is allotted to a man and it's different according to his age. And it is, I would say, a circular work. In this sense it is also an aristocratic work, because it comes back to the same point. Instead you could say 'what is the Burgess novel?' It's more just a linear work, it has a goal, it has a [WORD MISSING HERE - CHECK FILM], but it must conquer.
Instead this is about the great question: why we are dealing, why we are here in the world. How do we deal with this double nature that we have: the human animal nature and then the intellectual nature?
Jon Usher, University of Edinburgh:
Part of what we're doing here today is looking at the novel after the event, after all the fuss, to see not who is right but why did people think the way they thought then, what has changed in the way we think about it now.
Dr Gabriele Papadia de Bottini, Italian Consul General for Scotland:
This event we're having here today at the National Library is really something of a very high level and profile. I was speaking with the people here today. They're really, I would say, rather amazed as well at this initiative. I'm sure there will be also developments in this sense, in terms of Italian-Scottish cultural co-operation, so we are very satisfied.
Professor Luigino Zecchìn:
I think the National Library is just the right location for a kind of event of this kind. I have to mention the enthusiasm, for example, from Chris Taylor.
Chris Taylor, Foreign Collections Curator, NLS:
To have the manuscript of 'Il Gattopardo' to come to the Library and for us to be able to display it to the public and for people to be able to see it and admire it, because it is one of the most important 20th century Italian manuscripts. And I have to say it's been one of the most exciting projects that I've been involved in my 16 years with the Library.