Literature: 1934

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pirandello, Luigi, pronounced pihr uhn DEHL oh, loo EE jee (1867-1936), an Italian author, won the 1934 Nobel Prize for literature. Pirandello is known for his philosophic dramas. The best of his plays argue that reality is unknowable, and that truth varies according to the point of view. He claimed we assume numerous roles or masks in our daily lives, none of them our true self. We should thus be wary of passing hasty judgment on others.

Pirandello's best-known play is Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921), a fantasy that highlights the gap between reality and fiction. Henry IV (1922) is a milestone of modern psychological drama that examines the relation between truth and illusion. Pirandello's 1917 play Right You Are (If You Think You Are) is a direct analysis of the relativity of truth. In addition to his 44 plays, Pirandello also published six volumes of poetry and wrote more than 300 short stories. The best of his seven novels is probably The Late Mattia Pascal (1904).

Pirandello was born in Girgenti (Agrigento), Sicily. He earned a doctorate in philology at the University of Bonn in Germany in 1891. He married in 1894 and led a contented life until his wife went insane in 1904. To finance her home care, he taught literature at a girls' school in Rome, enduring his wife's frequent bouts of violent jealousy. His turbulent domestic life helped stimulate the emphasis in his dramas on madness, illusion, and the uncertainty of reality.

Contributor: Frederick C. Wilkins, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of English, Suffolk University.


Post a Comment