12. Luigi Pirandello (1867 – 1936)

Italian dramatist, novelist, poet and short story writer born in the village of Càvusu (Chaos), a poor suburb of Agrigento and awarded the 1934 Nobel Prize in Literature for his “bold and brilliant renovation of the drama and the stage”. Pirandello’s works include novels, hundreds of short stories, and about 40 plays -some of which in Sicilian.

Pirandello’s greatest achievement is in his plays. He wrote a large number of dramas which were published, between 1918 and 1935, under the collective title of Maschere nude [Naked Masks]. Always preoccupied with the problem of identity, the self exists to him only in relation to others; it consists of changing facets that hide an inscrutable abyss. In a play like Cosí é (se vi pare) (1918) [Right You Are (If You Think You Are)], two people hold contradictory notions about the identity of a third person. The protagonist in Vestire gli ignudi (1923) [To Clothe the Naked] tries to establish her individuality by assuming various identities, which are successively stripped from her; she gradually realizes her true position in the social order and in the end dies «naked», without a social mask, in both her own and her friends’ eyes. The analysis and dissolution of a unified self are carried to an extreme in Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore (1921) [Six Characters in Search of An Author] where the stage itself, the symbol of appearance versus reality, becomes the setting of the play.

Reference: Nobelprize.org, http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1934/pirandello-bio.html

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