Friday, November 23, 2007

good essay on The Leopard

"Partly because Lampedusa took the opportunity to vent his spleen against Italian opera, Sicilian indiscretion, political corruption, greed, and a whole host of other shortcomings he associated with his native place, The Leopard has been viewed by many of his countrymen as anti-Sicilian or even anti-Italian. Its politics have also been disparaged as right-wing or reactionary, though Louis Aragon, the French Marxist, interpreted it instead as a left-wing critique of the right-wing aristocracy. Such views strike me as severely inadequate. If The Leopard manifests doubts about the Sicilian character, it does so very much from the inside, and if it has any politics at all, it is neither of the right nor of the left, but rather a politics of irony.

But can there be such a politics? Fervid electioneers and dyed-in-the-wool adherents of the various ideological isms would say no. On the other hand, slyly dissident satirists of the Soviet system, German-speaking Jews like Karl Kraus, and the helpless, hopeless critics of the present American administration might all say yes. To see the local with the distance of the astronomical and at the same time to feel its tragedies locally: That is politics, surely, of a very useful sort..."