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Modernity and Its DiscontentsMaking and Unmaking the Bourgeois from Machiavelli to Bellow$
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Steven B. Smith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300198393

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300198393.001.0001

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The Political Teaching of Lampedusa’s The Leopard

The Political Teaching of Lampedusa’s The Leopard

(p.313) Chapter 15 The Political Teaching of Lampedusa’s The Leopard
Modernity and Its Discontents

Steven B. Smith

Yale University Press

Giuseppe Lampedusa’s The Leopard is a profound literary reflection on the transition from the old order to the modern democratic age. Set in Sicily at the time of the Italian unification, it charts the end of one world and the beginning of another. Told through the eyes of a thoughtful aristocrat contemplating the end of his way of life, the book questions what the new bourgeois order will be like when it will no longer have the collective memories of an older ruling class to govern. The novel offers skeptical reflections on the limits of political reform. Yet the author was not a reactionary. He accepts change without giving into nihilism or despair. The most famous line of the book reads, “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

Keywords:   Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi di, New Man, Sicily, Visconti, Luchino

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