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Sicily and the Game of Hospitality: How Contemporary Art Can Break the Marriage that Il Gattopardo Made

Miriam La Rosa


Sixty years after the publication of the novel Il Gattopardo (1958, The Leopard 1960), by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, this article is a pretext to engage in a reflection on contemporary Sicily that combines the author’s personal and professional experience of the island with historical considerations. The reader should be warned that the rhythm and tone of writing reflect this mingling of subjective and objective concerns. The core points raised in the article revolve around the notion of hospitality as understood in philosophy and history, including references to the manifestation of the rules of hospitality in the specific context of Sicily, and in the structure and politics of its contemporary art field. In this attempt to discuss the present without discarding the looking glass of the past, the socio-political message behind Il Gattopardo plays an important role. With the intention to overcome the often-pessimistic approach adopted in the discourse around Sicily and Sicilian-ness, the article advocates for a re-evaluation of the understanding of artistic development in this contested corner of the Italian south. Turning tables and, with them, dated depictions, the proposed image of Sicily is no longer that of a sleeping beauty, but of an alert and resilient actor.

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Spunti e Ricerche. Rivista d'italianistica.
ISSN (Print): 0816-5432.
ISSN (Electronic): 2200-8942.