The Professor and the Siren cover
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Publication date:
June 17, 2014
NYRB Classics
Available as E-Book, International Literature

An NYRB Classics Original

In the last two years of his life, the Sicilian aristocrat Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote not only the internationally celebrated novel The Leopard but also three shorter pieces of fiction, brought together here in a new translation.

“The Professor and the Siren,” like The Leopard, meditates on the past and the passage of time, and also on the relationship between erotic love and learning. Professor La Ciura is one of the world’s most distinguished Hellenists; his knowledge, however, came at the cost of a loss that has haunted him for his entire life. This, Lampedusa’s final masterpiece, is accompanied here by the parable “Joy and the Law” and “The Blind Kittens,” a story originally conceived as the first chapter of a followup to The Leopard.

The Professor and the Siren is the NYRB Classics Book Club selection for June 2014.


An enigmatic, tantalizing and haunting tale of rare beauty which glints like a finely cut diamond…it crackles with erotic tension.
—Joseph Farrell, The Times Literary Supplement

Lampedusa has made me realize how many ways there are of being alive…. ‘The Professor and the Siren’ is an exquisite fantasy and a sustained one.
—E. M. Forster

‘The Professor and the Siren’ seems to me a masterpiece.
—Edmund Wilson

A work of outstanding laconic eccentricity…. Lampedusa wrote two masterpieces and this is the other one.
—Nicholas Blincoe, The Telegraph

[Lampedusa] comes so marvellously close to the people and scenes he describes because he conveys, in the manner of classical artists, the hard gleam of inaccessibility that makes human beings and nature itself seem final and alone.
—V. S. Pritchett

After a long and thoughtful accumulation of time and passions, skirting the straits of history and politics, [Lampedusa] recreated an entire epoch, filling his pages with tapestries of crystalline and lasting beauty.
—Edna O’Brien, Financial Times