Angelica tells the truth

Why don´t you write a book? asks X.

(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!


chris miller said...

According to Evolutionary Psychology, the primary reason you would want to write a book is.....in so many words....to get laid.

(your attachment to "The Leopard" is irrelevant)

And even realizing that such a denouement may no longer appeal to man of your age and wisdom -- still --- the Pleistocene has left you with a psychology that is driven to extravagant and wasteful performance.

So........... go for it!

Sir G said...

ah, what an interesting point! should don fabrizio then, instead of waltzing with his angelica, have written a book and sent a copy to her? would that have worked, and if so, should i write a book and send a copy to mine?

and why do women so persistently suggest that i should write a book? do you suppose i should parse this as "i would sleep with you if you did?" and if so -- why don't they just do it now anyway and be done with it? or perhaps they are more cunning than this: perhaps they mean to send me away, saying, in effect: "get out of my hair, go write a book?"

chris miller said...

Possibly these women feel that you qualify for other reasons (tall with upper body strength?) and only ask that you write a book in order to intensify their experience. (sort of like -- asking you to change your cologne)

Either way -- you should start writing -- and include them as characters.

As they deserve.

Anonymous said...

well, old man, c'est la guerre: you've had a good run; count your blessings; be thankful; and move on; have you considered knitting as a substitute?

Andrew W. said...

I just watched the movie version of this, which was beautiful. A beautiful story too.

Sir G said...

the film is incredibly beautiful -- and true to life in ways in which few modern films about the past can be: visconti was from THOSE viscontis -- he was born a prince himself -- so he understood the world and the relations he was portraying which few directors and writers today do;

actually, all of his films are beautiful, even the not so great ones: having been raised in beautiful surroundings, the man had had the opportunity to form good taste; and being friends with almost everyone with money, he was able to say to prince so and so or duke so and so, hey, can i film in your tuscan villa this fall? (check out for instance his Il Innocente for an example of one) and the owners would say, sure, lucchino, just be careful with my etruscan vases, you broke one last time, remember?

the material culture in all his films is absolutely breathtaking;

i like his films for other reasons, too: senso was filmed in my neighborhood of venice (in the Ghetto and near the Guglie market), for instance, etc.

so just get all viscontis and watch them all

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