Friday finds

As much as I admire Lucino Visconti’s film version of The Leopard, there’s no getting around the fact that Giuseppi Tomasi di Lampedusa’s original novel (published in 1958, a year after his death) is sharper, wittier, more probing and, in an unexpected way, more scathing than anything Visconti put on the screen. Set during the Italian Risorgimento, Lampedusa’s novel follows Don Fabrizio, a Sicilian nobleman who anticipates change by arranging the marriage of his beloved nephew, Tancredi, to a merchant’s daughter — something that would have been unheard of in the family’s heyday.  The signature line — “Things are going to have to change if we want them to stay the same” — characterizes Lampedusa’s barbed style, and the book’s closing image, which I’ll leave you to discover for yourself, is far crueler than Visconti’s sentimental sendoff. This post by the Accidental Blogger is a nice summation of the book’s qualities; this appreciation by Roger Ebert overrates the movie, but only slightly.

Larry Niven’s Ringworld may well be the most tedious novel ever to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards, but as this post demonstrates, it can provoke scientific debates far more interesting than anything Niven thought up.

A real historian talks about the Tea Party’s grasp of the Constitution, and can barely keep from collapsing into horselaughs.

Try your movie knowledge against Dennis Cozzalio’s Halloween Horror Screengrab Contest. It’s a toughie.

Jimi Hendrix and his military career.

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