Author(s): Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa
An NYRB Classics Original In the last two years of his life, the Sicilian aristocrat Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote not only the internationally celebrated novel "The Leopard" but also three shorter pieces of fiction, brought together here in a new translation. "The Professor and the Siren," like "The Leopard," meditates on the past and the passage of time, and also on the relationship between erotic love and learning. Professor La Ciura is one of the world's most distinguished Hellenists; his knowledge, however, came at the cost of a loss that has haunted him for his entire life. This Lampedusa's final masterpiece, is accompanied here by the parable "Joy and the Law" and "The Blind Kittens," a story originally conceived as the first chapter of a followup to "The Leopard."
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1896-1957) was a Sicilian nobleman, the Duke of Palma, and the last Prince of Lampedusa. He was born in Palermo to an aristocratic family whose fortunes began to decline in the 1800s with the passage of laws breaking up large Sicilian estates. Lampedusa served as an Italian artillery officer during World War I and was captured by the Austrians and held briefly in a prison camp in Hungary. He remained in the Italian military until 1921 and spent the interwar years traveling through Europe and attempting to restore the family estate. During World War II, the Tomasi palace in Palermo was bombed and looted by Allied troops. In the last two years of his life, Lampedusa began writing and produced his great historical novel" Il Gattopardo "("The Leopard"), as well as several short literary works, none of which were published during his lifetime. Two years after Lampedusa's death, "The Leopard" won the Strega Prize and became a worldwide best seller. Stephen Twilley is the managing editor of "Public Culture" and "Public Books." His translations from the Italian include Francesco Pacifico's" The Story of My Purity" and Marina Mander's "The First True Lie." Marina Warner's studies of religion, mythology, and fairy tales include "Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary," "From the Beast to the Blonde," and "No Go the Bogeyman." In 2013 she co-edited "Scheherazade's Children: Global Encounters with the Arabian Nights." A Fellow of the British Academy, she is also a professor in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex.