Pirandello, Luigi

(1867–1936)
   Italy’s greatest 20th-century playwright, Luigi Pirandello was also a novelist of distinction. His political legacy, however, is less inspiring: Like Giovanni Gentile and Gabriele D’Annunzio, he yielded to the flattery of the Fascist state. Pirandello was born in Girgenti (modern-day Agrigento), Sicily, in 1867. He was educated in Bonn, Germany, where he was briefly the Italian language instructor at the university. He returned to Italy in 1897 to work as a teacher of Italian literature and language in Rome, a post he retained until 1922. His life in this period was vexed by the irrational behavior of his wife, who believed, apparently without grounds, that Pirandello was a persistent adulterer. This domestic anguish insinuated itself into his work; the protagonist of Pirandello’s first novel, L’esclusa (The Outcast, 1901), is a woman who is unjustly accused of being an adulteress. Pirandello’s second novel, Il fu Mattia Pascal (The Late Mattia Pascal, 1904), was a study in alienation and irony. The protagonist, Mattia Pascal, a timid, perfectly ordinary middle-class man, argues furiously with his wife one day and leaves her. Then two events occur that make it possible for him to begin life afresh. First he wins the lottery and becomes financially independent. Then he is wrongly identified as the victim of a road accident. Liberated from all his past ties, he takes a new name, Adriano Meis. However, he soon finds that it is impossible to live in modern society without the “form” that is given to us by bureaucratic recognition. Adriano Meis cannot fully exist because nobody has an official document proving it. Mattia Pascal thus fakes Adriano Meis’s suicide and attempts to return to his former life, but his wife has remarried. Nothing remains of his former life except his tomb. He has truly become “The late Mattia Pascal.” The novel conveys a sense of human absurdity and estrangement with great poignancy.
   Pirandello began writing for the theater in 1916, creating a cycle of somewhat traditional plays set in Sicily and spoken in dialect. The two plays that made his reputation, however, Cosi e . . . se vi pare (That’s How It Is . . . If You Think So, 1917) and Sei personaggi in cerca di un autore (Six Characters in Search of an Author, 1921), were astonishingly original. As well as being formidably intellectual, they broke with the tradition of theatrical realism (the play as the presentation of a finished drama portraying “reality”) and established a new dramatic custom: the play as an artifice for interpretation. There is no “truth” in Pirandello’s plays, just contrasting and conflicting meanings explained at length by characters on an often-bare stage that compels the audience to concentrate on the dialogue and think about, not just accept, what is being said. Modern drama owes a great debt to Pirandello and his near contemporary, Berthold Brecht.
   Pirandello was lauded by the Fascist state, greatly flattering his vanity. He signed Gentile’s 1925 manifesto of Fascist intellectuals and, in 1929, agreed to become a member of the Accademia d’Italia. His identification with Benito Mussolini’s regime did not affect his growing international reputation, however. In 1934, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 1936 in Rome. By his express wish, there were no speeches or ceremonies at his funeral, and even his children were forbidden to accompany him to his grave.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pirandello, Luigi — born June 28, 1867, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy died Dec. 10, 1936, Rome Italian playwright and novelist. He earned a doctorate in philology at the University of Bonn but turned to writing poetry, short stories, and several novels, including the… …   Universalium

  • Pirandello,Luigi — Pi·ran·del·lo (pîr ən dĕlʹō, pē rän dĕlʹlō), Luigi. 1867 1936. Italian writer best known for his plays Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) and Tonight We Improvise (1930). Pirandello won the 1934 Nobel Prize for literature. * * * …   Universalium

  • Pirandello, Luigi — ► (1867 1936) Literato italiano. Destacó como dramaturgo por la originalidad de sus temas y la novedad de sus planteamientos y procedimientos técnicos, hasta el punto de que sin él no puede explicarse gran parte del teatro moderno. En sus obras… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Pirandello, Luigi —  (1867–1936) Italian author and playwright; awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934 …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Pirandello, Luigi — (Girgenti, oggi Agrigento 1867 Roma 1936) scrittore, protagonista assoluto del Novecento ; drammaturgo e poeta; saggista, accademico d’Italia; premio Nobel 1934. collab./opere: “La Riviera ligure”, “La Lettura”, “La Nuova Antologia” …   Dizionario biografico elementare del Novecento letterario italiano

  • Pirandello, Luigi —    см. Пиранделло, Луиджи …   Энциклопедический словарь экспрессионизма

  • Pirandello — Pirandello, Luigi …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Pirandello — Luigi Pirandello Luigi Pirandello Activité(s) dramaturge, poète Naissance 28 juin 1867 Décès 10 décembre 1936 Distinctions Prix Nobel de littérature (1934) Luigi Pirandello est un écrivain Italien …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Luigi Pirandello — Activités dramaturge, poète Naissance 28 juin 1867 Agrigente, (Italie) Décès 10 décembre  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Luigi Pirandello — Nacimiento 28 de junio de 1867 Xaos, Sicilia Defunción 10 de diciembre de 1936 …   Wikipedia Español

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