Letters from London and Europe

Translated by J.G. Nichols, foreword by Francesco da Mosto

  • Paperback | 288 pp.
  • Genre: Letters
  • ISBN: 9781846881374

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Enriched by new material not available in the previous hardback edition

The Leopard, published posthumously in 1958, was one of the most important works of fiction to appear in the Italian language in the twentieth century. Between 1925 and 1930, its author, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, wrote a number of letters to his cousins Casimiro and Lucio Piccolo in which he describes his travels around Europe (London, Paris, Zurich, Berlin). The letters, here published in English for the first time, display much of Lampedusa’s distinctive style present in his later work: not only the razor-sharp introspection, but also a wicked sense of humour, playful in its description of the comédie humaine.

United and underpinned by the genre of the novel, Lampedusa’s lifetime obsession, some letters also read like excerpts from a Stendhalian travel journal, whilst others are Pickwickian adventures populated with comic, exaggerated personalities.


'The correspondence of a Sicilian writer-prince charts aristocratic decay and the evolution of the modern Mafia.' Ian Thomson, The Financial Times

'The unstated theme of these extraordinary letters is death; not just the death of an aristocracy or a redundant way of life, but more broadly of Sicily – and of Europe.' Ian Thomson, The Financial Times

'There are pleasures on every page of these sparkling letters.' The Scotsman

'We should be grateful for the letters that, having survived and been translated into English, paint a vivid picture of the country Lampedusa would have loved to call his own.' Standpoint

'This selection of [Lampedusa]'s letters ... gathers much brilliantly atmospheric writing from the future novelist, who embellishes as much as he reports.'
The Independent

'An attractive and nicely translated volume... this correspondence... is important because it illuminates the decade of Lampedusa's life about which least had been known.' David Gilmour, TLS

'Letters from London and Europe usefully illuminates his Anglophilia, shows him at epistolary play, and gets a little behind his perpetual guardedness... an enterprising publication.' Julian Barnes, The Guardian

'When the Lampedusa who wrote The Leopard a lifetime later shows himself, he astonishes. Sometimes he’s playful, enthusing about the pink hams, greens stiltons and soft white bread of York in what now reads like a wicked reversal of the next 70 years of northerners rabbiting on about traditional Mediterranean flavours. Sometimes he’s serious, shocked to the soul by the greed, comestible and sexual, of Weimar Berlin and clearly aware of what must succeed the regime. And he notices, in a restaurant car on a Lithuanian express, the very moment when pasta became an international dish.' The Guardian

'The letters of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa... showcase a love of the physical, and a keen wit and intelligence in the author of The Leopard. The Daily Telegraph

'[These letters show] Lampedusa’s ability to turn the most banal of events into a riveting story.' The Daily Telegraph

'For all who have read and enjoyed The Leopard, these letters bring back the unique and unmistakable voice of Giuseppe Lampedusa... Lampedusa was certainly a most entertaining correspondent, as these sparkling letters, fortuitously preserved for us, show. It would be a treat to sit next to him at a dinner party.' The Tablet

'An entertaining sidelight on the leisure hours of the literary duke.' The Literary Review

'These witty dispatches from an indolent aristocrat abroad are a real joy... More than half a century after his death, Lampedusa has pulled off the characteristically insouciant coup of writing a brilliant travel book by accident.' The Observer

'The reading of Lampedusa’s travel correspondence brings to light a draft, an essay of a certain voice, a first glimpse of that certain identifiable mixture of tenderness, wisdom and irony that became Lampedusa’s incomparable style.' The Spectator

'For anyone who admires The Leopard, this volume is a sheer delight, bringing the attractively languid and arcane personality of Lampedusa into vivid perspective. If you have not read The Leopard, do so; It will not disappoint. That book and these letters were written by a man with the deep soul of an Old European, who was wise and witty.' The Lady

'[Lampedusa]’s letters frequently suggest the growing pains of a literary genius, and his observations were nice reflections of the human comedy.' The Scotsman

'This selection of letters home during 1920s travels gathers much finely atmospheric writing.' The Independent

'Lampedusa’s love of literature and art resonates, as does a tantalizing obsession with food, cinema, and radio.' Publishers Weekly


Read an excerpt from Letters from London and Europe

This book is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Duke of Palma and Prince of Lampedusa, was born in Palermo in 1896. Other than three articles that appeared in an obscure Italian journal in 1926–27, Lampedusa was unpublished in his own lifetime. He began The Leopard, his only novel, in 1954, at the age of fifty-eight. When he died aged sixty-one, the completed manuscript of The Leopard had received only rejections from publishers.

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