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Luigi Pirandello

Luigi Pirandello: Contemporary Perspectives

  • Book Info
    Luigi Pirandello
    Book Description:

    Essays discuss the texts of Luigi Pirandello, one of the literary giants of this century and present an up-to-date re-evaluations of Pirandello's works, including his poetry, novels, short stories, plays, essays, letters, and memoirs.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7685-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Section 1: Introduction

    • 1 Pirandello at 360 Degrees
      (pp. 3-22)

      With a paradox that Pirandello might have liked, since paradox was a treasured intellectual concept for him, our introduction to this critical anthology begins with a discussion of names that are not included within it; the first is Glauco Cambon, the editor of a 1967 anthology of critical essays in English that could be considered the antecedent of this present volume. In order to introduce current trends and innovations in Pirandellian criticism, it is first necessary to survey - albeit briefly - the itineraries that critics have followed so far. Their achievements have indeed made possible the contemporary views and...

    • 2 Scenes and Texts: Perspectives in Pirandellian Criticism
      (pp. 23-34)

      In 1993 Pirandello′s copyright expired; this is one reason why productions of his plays and, especially, editions of his books have followed one upon another at a frantic pace. But such activity is not necessarily a sign of vitality. It can happen, in fact, that quantity does not correspond to quality, that the race for production and publication is concerned more with an appealing name than with the necessity of confronting a classic author of the twentieth century such as Pirandello, whose works are much studied but far from exhausted. Such an excessive offering can also provoke reactions of rejection...

  6. Section 2: Structures

    • 3 Pirandello′s Quest for Truth: Sei personaggi in cerca d′autore
      (pp. 37-52)

      The hiatus between the text and itsmise en scène, the dichotomic relationship between the stagnant text and the dynamic, ever changing staging, was at the centre of the debates on and around the theatrical event at the beginning of the twentieth century. Such debate, far from being merely a formal discussion on the nature of representation, encouraged significant aesthetic speculation on theatre in particular and on art in general, as it investigated the relationship between art and truth and the possibilities of creating signification in a world that had lost the certainties of experience.¹ According to Peter Szondi the...

    • 4 Pirandello and the Theatre-within-the-Theatre: Thresholds and Frames in Ciascuno a suo modo
      (pp. 53-63)

      In Luigi Pirandello′s so-called theatre-within-the-theatre trilogy -Sei personaggi in cerca d′autore [Six Characters in Search of an Author, 1921],Ciascuno a suo modo [Each in His Own Way, 1923], andQuesta sera si recita a soggetto [Tonight We Improvise, 1929] - the play betweenfictionandsimulationis quite pronounced, to the point where it becomes extremely difficult to distinguish these two aspects of dramaturgical writing. The issue becomes more complex still if one considers that the metatheatrical nature of these works tends to erase the border between ′theatrical illusion′ and ′illusionistic reproduction′ of reality and life, thereby rendering...

    • 5 Families of Characters and Families of Actors on the Pirandellian Stage
      (pp. 64-76)

      In the beginning, theatre was largely peripheral to Luigi Pirandello′s literary vocation. His conception of thewrittenwork, or rather of its creation within the author′s imagination, existed well outside the sphere of the stage machinery. This fact is not simply due to remnants of idealistic positions. Rather, it can be attributed to the author′s siding with contemporary literati in their resistance to the low level of theatrical production, with its obsolete craftsmanship, and to the devalued, commercial nature of thematerialcircuit of the theatrical spectacle. From Arrigo Boito to Eduardo Boutet, from theScapigliatito the authors in...

    • 6 The Making and Unmaking of Language: The Rhetoric of Speech and Silence
      (pp. 77-104)

      There are as many truths as there are those who perceive things; naturally, assuming they are searching for the truth. On the other hand, truth is nonsense anyway. For example, even now, I see myself differently than you do, and you see me differently than I see you, and all this mingles, becoming something completely different than that which we perceive, deferred and extravagant, in the moment it occurs. This is true for all those who write; for them it should constitute a new truth.

      First, an explanation of the title is necessary. ′The making and unmaking of language′ alludes...

  7. Section 3: Meanings

    • 7 Laughter and Political Allegory in Pirandello: A Reading of ′C′è qualcuno che ride′
      (pp. 107-124)

      ′C′è qualcuno che ride′ [′There Is Someone Laughing′] is part ofUna giornata, the final section ofNovelle per un anno. It was first published in the newspaperCorriere della Sera, on November 7, 1934.¹ The title is phrasal, as is often the case in Pirandello. It calls to mind a related example, the title of another well-known short story, ′Nell′albergo è morto un tale′ [′In the Hotel a Guy Died,′ 1929]. In both of these cases a witty line uttered by an anonymous character in the story also serves as its title. Furthermore, both titles suggest the theme of...

    • 8 Pirandellian Nakedness
      (pp. 125-138)

      At the turn of the century, the experience of the machine and new modes of production heightened a self-awareness of individual crisis and displacement throughout Western culture. We are often reminded that the modernization of European society was very much the product of positive science which left very little, if anything at all, to chance or spiritual agency. From this premise developed the wave of anti-modern modernism that in Italy found its crest in two writers so very different from one another that they are seldom mentioned in the same breath: Luigi Pirandello and Gabriele D′Annunzio. Yet their writing shares...

    • 9 Eros and Solitude in Pirandelloʹs Short Stories
      (pp. 139-160)

      The problem of eros in Pirandello′s work can be correctly investigated only if placed within the wider conception of the world which stands at the very foundation of his poetics and deals with life drives, in the general sense as they are defined by psychoanalysis:

      Grande categoria di pulsioni che Freud contrappone, nella sua ultima teoria, alle pulsioni di morte. Esse tendono a instaurare unita sempre piu grandi e a mantenere la coesione. Le pulsioni di vita, che sono designate anche col termine di Eros, ricoprono non solo le pulsioni sessuali propriamente dette, ma anche le pulsioni di autoconservazione.¹


  8. Section 4: Innovations

    • 10 Enacting the Dissolution of the Self: Woman as One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand
      (pp. 163-188)

      Mattia Pascal, Lamberto Laudisi, Leone Gala, Serafino Gubbio, Enrico IV, and Vitangelo Moscarda are perhaps the best known of Pirandello′sraisonneurs, the humorist protagonists of his works. The ideal space for this type of character is the novel - the genre suited for reflection, monologue, and philosophical analysis. Three of the characters mentioned above are the sole protagonists of Pirandello′s most famous novels, where page after page is devoted to their endless philosophical monologues that replace actions. The traditional dichotomy of life/thought or action/reflection, a central topos of twentieth-century literature, is taken to its extreme by Pirandello. Pascal, Gubbio, and...

    • 11 Regicide, Parricide, and Tyrannicide in Il fu Mattia Pascal: Stealing from the Father to Give to the Son
      (pp. 189-213)

      The power of a father has been usurped, even at the cost of his life. And the son must avenge the act. This is the myth at the heart of Pirandello′s richest novel,Il fu Mattia Pascal[The Late Mattia Pascal, 1904] and the issue at stake in its most commented lines. They are spoken by the character Paleari in the form of a parable. He notes that a marionette theatre in Rome is scheduled to perform the tragedy of Orestes, the avenging son of Agamemnon. What would happen, Paleari wonders, if at the very moment Orestes lifts his hand...

    • 12 Pirandello in the Discursive Economies of Modernity and Postmodernism
      (pp. 214-232)
      Wladimir Krysinski

      One of the most recent textual incarnations of Pirandello is postmodern in nature. In a novel entitledLarva, Babel de una noche de San Juanby Spanish author Julián Ríos, Pirandello enters the metaphoric, mocking, and playful field of irony. He takes part in the paralleling of Don Juan′s quest with the erotic obsession of a skirt-chasing vampire. In a passage written in the manner of Joyce′sFinnegans Wake, Don Juan becomes avampiropeador, a womanizing vampire. Julián Ríos offers the following play on words: ′Tứ si que te ibas de pira y te las pirabas de vamp en vampa,...