(And Y. And Z. And T. And, most recently, my Angelica. And three days after her, someone else).
The answer is, of course, that as long as The Leopard remains in print, another book is hardly ever needed -- because anyone tempted to pick up and read a book of mine (or of anyone, indeed) is simply better off picking up The Leopard and re-reading it for the 57th (or whatever the case may be) time.
Really: as long as The Leopard remains in print, no other book is ever needed.
Every time I reread the book (a mere 147 pages!), a new aspect of it strikes me.
Last night it was Angelica´s praise for the Prince:
You are so handsome, so manly, so sexy, she says (not her words, but certainly her message). Old? Bah! -- she exclaims -- who could ever be interested in these inconsequential pretty young shrip?
If you have not understood Angelica, she appears to be saying to him you are the man. (And her (young) fiance plays along, feigning one wicked jealousy).
And then she invites Don Fabrizio to dance the mazurka.
Oh no, replies the prince, going along with the game, not the mazurka, I beg you. I am not so old, he says, that I cannot remember. Not the mazurka. The waltz will do. (He means also: I am not so young that I do not understand the ways of the world. Give me a staid boring dance, the sort one may safely dance with her grand-father).
(The prince, you see, is old but wise; and yes, I do mean to say "but" -- unlike in speech, in life "old and wise" is not a common combination at all).
The fact is, of course -- the inexorable fact -- that she invites him to dance as a way of thanking him for having helped to arrange her marriage with Tancredi, who is his nephew: young, dashing... and a shrimp of a man.
(The prospect had been bedevilled by the usual social issues: Tancredi was a poor nobleman, even if he descended from the peers of Charlemagne; while Angelica´s father was a country-bumpkin nouveau-riche with ties to the mafia and no title of any sort at all; this was a difficulty which only a prince could overcome; and overcome it Don Fabrizzio did: for his nephew, whom he loved (how could one not); but also, importantly, for Angelica, whom, had it been another time, another age, he would have loved gladly).
And now Angelica says to him now, you are neither too old, nor too fat, nor too flabby, nor too dull for a young woman to love madly.
But she means -- obviously -- "for another young woman" -- ("not me").
Which is exactly how one needs to read this every time.
In the novel -- believe it or not -- the prince (one too old for a romance with Angelica) is forty-five. Forty five! A requiem for those of us who are today forty-six!