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Books By Luigi Pirandello
The novel begins when Vitangelo Moscarda's wife remarks that Vitangelo's nose tilts to the right. This commonplace interaction spurs the novel's unemployed, wealthy narrator to examine himself, the way he perceives others, and the ways that others perceive him. At first he only notices small differences in how he sees himself and how others do; but his self-examination quickly becomes relentless, dizzying, leading to often darkly comic results as Vitangelo decides that he must demolish that version of himself that others see.
Nobel prize-winning Luigi Pirandello’s classic novel on the nature of identity brims with sly humor, compelling drama, and skillfully depicted, oddly modern characters—all capped with timeless insight into the fragile human psyche.
This new, modern translation gives the 1926 Italian classic a fresh, accessible American voice.
After all, the “Moscarda” he believed himself to be was different when he was alone, or with his wife, his tenant, or his friends. And there were hundreds—no, thousands—of additional Moscardas in the minds of everyone who had met or heard of him.
Moscarda grappled with this new knowledge: that he was not who he thought he was, nor who anyone else thought he was. And the people around him? They were not who he thought they were either.
So he decided, in his own words, to “...ﬁnd out who I was, at least to those closest to me, acquaintances so-called, and to amuse myself by maliciously decomposing the I that I was to them.” What follows is a series of experiments, meant to befuddle and confuse those around him and prove that he was not, in fact, who they believed him to be.
Written by Nobel Laureate Luigi Pirandello over the course of 15 years, One, None, and One Hundred Thousand was a groundbreaking look at the nature of identity and the self.
Pirandello was no stranger to reinvention and loss of identity. Born into a well-to-do Sicilian family, he seemed destined to follow his father into business as a sulfur merchant. Instead, he spent his youth writing stories, and later excelled in literary studies.
Pirandello’s early writing and teaching at the Istituto Superiore di Magistero di Roma was sufficient to support himself, his wife, and his three children—supplemented by an allowance from his father and his wife’s dowry.
But in 1903, the family was ruined when the sulfur mines his father had invested in were flooded and destroyed. The family fortune was gone, including his wife’s dowry. The news so shocked her that she suffered a complete mental collapse. In the aftermath, she suffered from hallucinations and anxieties that would follow her for the rest of her life.
At first, with an ailing wife and no money, Pirandello contemplated suicide. Instead, he redoubled his efforts. He took on more teaching work and wrote at a furious pace. He would go on to write 7 novels, numerous short stories, poetry, and around 40 plays throughout his career.
The issue of identity comes up again and again in Pirandello’s work. In his play To Clothe the Naked, the protagonist tries to reinvent herself, with each subsequent identity stripped away from her by others. In The Life I Gave You, a mother is confronted with the truth that her long-lost son is not the person that she has created in her mind. In the end, she chooses to adhere to her fiction rather than face the facts about her son.
In Six Characters in Search of an Author, Pirandello’s most famous work, six unused and incomplete characters walk onto a stage and demand that a director and his actors tell their stories. But of course, the lines between reality and invention are blurred, getting more absurd as the play goes on. This play created such a stir on opening night in Rome that fighting broke out in the audience, forcing Pirandello to flee the theater with his daughter. Later that year, the same play would be hailed by critics in Milan as a work of genius.
Pirandello’s work was later seen as a precursor to the Theatre of the Absurd, in which writers explore the meaninglessness of human existence through deliberately confusing situations and purposeless dialogue.
By the time of his death in 1936, Pirandello was a well-known and respected writer in the theater and literary worlds. Although his name wouldn’t be recognized by many today, his contributions to literature can be seen in the later work of notable writers like Jean-Paul Sartre and fellow Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett, among others.
First performed in 1923, this intellectual comedy introduces six individuals to a stage where a company of actors has assembled for a rehearsal. Claiming to be the incomplete, unused creations of an author's imagination, they demand lines for a story that will explain the details of their lives. In ensuing scenes, these "real-life characters," all professing to be part of an extended family, produce a drama of sorts — punctuated by disagreements, interruptions, and arguments. In the end they are dismissed by the irate manager, their dilemma unsolved and the "truth" a matter of individual viewpoints.
A tour de force exploring the many faces of reality, this classic is now available in an inexpensive edition that will be welcomed by amateur theatrical groups as well as students of drama.
Luigi Pirandello was born on 28th June 1867 into an upper-class family in a small village in Sicily.
In 1880, the family moved to Palermo and there he completed high school. He then registered at the University of Palermo, at that time the centre of what became the Fasci Siciliani movement. Although not an active member Pirandello had close friendships with many of its leading ideologists. Pirandello then completed his university studies in Rome and Bonn, receiving his Doctorate in March, 1891.
His time in Rome had provided him with the opportunity to visit its many theatres. "Oh the dramatic theatre! I will conquer it. I cannot enter into one without experiencing a strange sensation, an excitement of the blood through all my veins..."
1894 brought marriage, at his father's suggestion, to a shy, withdrawn girl: Mara Antonietta Portulano.The marriage encouraged his studies and writings and produced three children. In 1895, the first part of the ‘Dialoghi tra Il Gran Me e Il Piccolo Me’ was published.
In 1903 the flooding of the sulphur mines in which his father had invested the family capital and Antonietta's dowry, brought financial catastrophe. Antonietta on hearing the news had her mental balance profoundly and irremediably shaken. While watching over his mentally ill wife at night (after the day spent at work) he wrote ‘Il Fu Mattia Pascal’ (The Late Mattia Pascal). It was an immediate and resounding success.
In 1909, Pirandello began his collaboration with the prestigious Corriere della Sera. Whilst his fame as a writer was increasing his private life was poisoned by the suspicion and jealousy of Antonietta who now turned physically violent.
By 1917 his theatrical works were beginning to take centre stage: ‘Così è (se vi pare)’ (Right you are (if you think so)) and ‘Il Piacere dell'onestà’ (The Pleasure Of Honesty).
In 1919 Pirandello had Antonietta placed in an asylum. She never left the asylum.
In 1921, in Rome his play, ‘Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore’, (Six Characters in Search of an Author) was staged. It was a failure. However, when presented in Milan it was a great success. Pirandello's international reputation was set when it was performed in London and New York.
In 1925, Pirandello, with Mussolini’s help, assumed the artistic direction and ownership of the Teatro d'Arte di Roma. He now described himself both as ‘a Fascist because I am Italian’ and ‘I'm apolitical, I'm only a man in the world...’ He later had several conflicts with fascist leaders and would fall under close surveillance by the secret fascist police OVRA.
In 1934 he won the Nobel Prize but asked that medal be melted down for Italy’s occupation of Abyssinia Campaign to which he had given his support.
Pirandello's canon stretches across novels, hundreds of short stories, poetry volumes, essays and some 40 plays. His tragic farces are often cited as forerunners of the Theatre of the Absurd.
Luigi Pirandello died on 10th December 1936 at his home at Via Bosio, Rome, Italy.
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The 11 tales included in this collection are among his best. Presented in the original Italian with excellent new English translations on facing pages, they offer students of Italian language and literature a unique learning aid and a treasury of superb fiction by a modern master.
The stories range in time from the earliest known tale, "Little Hut," a study of rural passions written in 1884, to "Mrs. Frola and Mr. Ponza, Her Son-in-Law," a quintessential Pirandello story about the relativity of truth and the impossibility of penetrating other people's minds. Published in 1917, it formed the basis of Pirandello's first major play, Right You Are If You Think You Are. In addition to these narratives, the volume also includes "Citrons from Sicily," "With Other Eyes," "A Voice," "The Fly," "The Oil Jar," "It's Not to be Taken Seriously," "Think it Over, Giacomino!," "A Character's Tragedy," and "A Prancing Horse."
Accompanying the stories are a biographical and critical introduction to Pirandello and his work, brief introductions to each of the stories and explanatory footnotes.
Il protagonista arriverà alla follia in un ospizio, dove però si sentirà libero da ogni regola, in quanto le sue sensazioni lo porteranno a vedere il mondo con altri occhi. Vitangelo Moscarda conclude che, per uscire dalla prigione in cui la vita rinchiude, non basta cambiare nome: proprio perché la vita è una continua evoluzione, il nome rappresenta la morte. Dunque, l'unico modo per vivere in ogni istante è vivere attimo per attimo la vita, rinascendo continuamente in modo diverso.
Considerato il capolavoro teatrale di Pirandello insieme a Sei personaggi in cerca di autore, Enrico IV è uno studio sul significato della pazzia e sul tema caro all'autore del rapporto, complesso e alla fine inestricabile, tra personaggio e uomo, finzione e verità.