The Professor and the Siren
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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.

Reviews

"An enigmatic, tantalizing and haunting tale of rare beauty which glints like a finely cut diamond...it crackles with erotic tension." -Joseph Farrell, The Times Literary Supplement

"Lampedusa has made me realize how many ways there are of being alive.... 'The Professor and the Siren' is an exquisite fantasy and a sustained one."-E. M. Forster

"'The Professor and the Siren' seems to me a masterpiece." -Edmund Wilson

"A work of outstanding laconic eccentricity....Lampedusa wrote two masterpieces and this is the other one." -Nicholas Blincoe, The Telegraph

"[Lampedusa] comes so marvellously close to the people and scenes he describes because he conveys, in the manner of classical artists, the hard gleam of inaccessibility that makes human beings and nature itself seem final and alone." -V. S. Pritchett

"After a long and thoughtful accumulation of time and passions, skirting the straits of history and politics, [Lampedusa] recreated an entire epoch, filling his pages with tapestries of crystalline and lasting beauty." -Edna O'Brien, Financial Times

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