I had never heard of Leopardi before picking up this book – to be honest, I was seduced by the beautiful desert picture on the cover, and also the blurb’s promise of amazing philosophical and psychological insights. What I got was basically the notebook of an intelligent, thoughtful person. There were some interesting ideas, but nothing was fully formed or developed enough to be particularly interesting to me. The book did a good job of skewering social pretensions and shallowness, but that was nothing particularly new. The book was unfinished in Leopardi’s lifetime, and perhaps the finished version would have been brilliant. This sequence of half-formed thoughts and bons mots, however, was just a quick and not particularly satisfying read.