This is the first British publication of an essay first published in the Corriere della Sera in 1977. I have to thank Fintan O Connell for detecting the material and Elizabeth Potter for assisting with the translation. The article opens with an introduction by Sebastiano Grasso.
Whenever necessary, Joyce quotations as they appear in the Corriere source have been corrected and, for the sake of intelligibility, given amplification.
Twenty years ago Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of Il Gattopardo, the novel discovered by Giorgio Bassani, which is considered one of the masterpieces of contemporary Italian literature, died in Rome. As well as being a novelist, the Sicilian nobleman was also a scholar and an essayist of exceptional calibre.
Written about 1953–4, this unpublished essay is part of the conversazione-readings that the prince held for a group of young Palermo intellectuals who would meet every so often in his house. Among them were Gioacchio Lanza Tomasi (whom the writer later adopted), at present the manager of the Rome Opera, Francesco Agnello, Peppuzzo Lo Monaco, and Francesco Orlando. From time to time Tomasi di Lampedusa would read out these essays (hence their conversational tone), interspersing the texts with improvised spoken observations.
After the prince’s death the manuscripts could not be found. It was only two years ago that Princess Alexandra (the daughter of a Russian nobleman, chamberlain at the court of Tzar Nicholas II, who married Tomasi di Lampedusa in Latvia in 1932) found, after much searching, the sheets of formal,