Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Il Gattopardo achieved an international reputation during the sixties and has since proved to be one of the most enduring works of twentieth century Italian literature. In his vel Lampedusa looks back on the history of Sicily and evokes the atmosphere of a mysterious and insular world where revolution and political upheaval are bringing change to an apparently unchanging society. Ernest Hampson's introductory study stresses the extent to which the author's personal experience of Sicilian history influenced his work. He focusses on the vel's historical theme, that of the Risorgimento and its effects on the island's ruling classes, as well as on the work's key theme, that of death, the death of the protagonist, Don Fabrizio, and of the Sicilian aristocratic class which he embodies. A section is also devoted to the vel's complex use of symbolic imagery. This book is aimed at teachers and students of Italian as well as the general reader.