Land of Extremes: The Power of Sicilian Landscapes in Tomasi di Lampedusa's Il Gattopardo

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Though Il Gattopardo has enjoyed resounding commercial and critical success since its publication in 1958, literary circles took issue with the novel's treatment of history and lack of linear structure. In addition to studying the novel's cyclical temporality, the present study will investigate the often underappreciated category of space, which has risen to prominence within Il Gattopardo scholarship in recent years. Lampedusa himself nods to the novel's spatial character, insisting that: "La Sicilia è quella che è; del 1860, di prima e di sempre." The present study argues that the extreme nature of Sicily's landscape - where there is no mean between extreme pragmatism and pure abstraction - reveals the illusory nature of the Risorgimento's promise of progress. Even as Garibaldi's soldiers light the bonfires of history, Sicily's timeless, fossilized quality reminds its inhabitants that nothing ever truly passes out of existence, and that revolution is cyclical not only in name.