Books: Elegy for an Autocrat

THE LEOPARD (319 pp.)—Giuseppe di Lampedusa—Pantheon ($4.50).

In the spring of 1956, Sicilian Prince Giuseppe di Lampedusa diffidently handed an unsigned manuscript copy of The Leopard to a friend, who put it away in a desk drawer and forgot it. Lampedusa later dispatched another copy of the story —which he had contemplated writing for a quarter-century—to a publisher's reader, who pronounced it unpublishable. Five days after this news, in July 1957, the cancer-ridden, 61-year-old prince died. Months later, the manuscript in the desk drawer was unearthed and sent to Gian Giacomo Feltrinelli, Doctor Zhivago's original publisher, who recognized its power. The...

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