Letters from London and Europe, By Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

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The Independent Culture

The Prince of Lampedusa led an erratic life before, nearly 60, he began his ironic classic of 19th-century Sicily, The Leopard. Translated by JG Nichols, this selection of letters home during 1920s travels gathers much finely atmospheric writing.

The Prince falls hopelessly in love with Old England at its most traditional: hushed Pall Mall clubs, glittering embassy soirées, ripe Stilton, Yorkshire ham, bobbies on the beat. No industrial smog blots the historic landscapes of Ely, York, Stratford, Oxford. In England, he happily revels in a cosy past.

In Germany, he foresees a sinister future. Weimar Berlin, ultimate modern "metropolis", is evoked with a shiver as it tests new types of "suffering and unease".