Whirling and writhing: The false movement of History
in Gattopardo and in Senso
The pace of History is made evident in Il Gattopardo and Senso through two distinct images: in Lampedusa’s novel it appears as a whirling wind that sweeps away any progressive path, in Boito’s story, as a writhing worm that unveils the horror of war. Visconti is attracted by the sense of emptiness with which the two works communicate, and he turns what is implict in the former and reticent in the latter into melodramatic explicitness. In both cases, he stops before the final pages, before the surfacing of what remains after death. The difference between the two works lies indeed in these remains. In Boito’s, life resumes in an horizontal succeeding of masks and lies, in Lampedusa’s, the eternal sleep dissolves everything, leaving however, to the dust of cancellation, an untimely form of beauty: the fall of the last surviving objects will become, for a moment, a dance.