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Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – February 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Series: Twentieth Century Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (February 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014018922X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140189223
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian

About the Author

Luigi Pirandello was born of rich, middle-class parents in Girgenti (Agrigento), Sicily, on 28 June 1867. As a young man he studied at the Universities of Palermo, Rome, and Bonn, where he gained his doctorate in 1891. His first published work, Mal giocondo (1889), was a collection of poems. It was followed by other volumes of poems, critical essays, novels, short stories, and over forty plays. In 1894 he married Antoinetta Portulano, the daughter of his father's business associate. Financial disaster and a severe illness brought on by the birth of their third child drove his wife to a hysterical form of insanity. Only in 1918, when her presence in the family constituted a real threat to their daughter's safety did Pirandello agree to have his wife committed to an asylum. The enormous emotional strain he felt at this time is reflected in the intense pessimism found in his work. Pirandello's first real success in the theatre came about in 1921 when Six Characters in Search of an Author was performed. Henry IV followed the next year and confirmed his position as a playwright. In the following years Pirandello travelled abroad extensively. He embarked on a career as a producer and in 1925 founded his Art Theatre in Rome. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934 and died in Rome on 10 December 1936.
Mark Musa is a professor at the Center for Italian Studies at Indiana University. A former Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellow, Musa is the author of a highly acclaimed translation of Dante's Divine Comedy.
Mark Musa is a professor at the Center for Italian Studies at Indiana University. A former Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellow, Musa is the author of a highly acclaimed translation of Dante's Divine Comedy.

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Luigi Pirandello's 1921 play "Six Characters in Search of an Author" ("Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore") has the deserved reputation of being the first existentialist drama and having a profound effect on later playwrights, especially those practitioners of the Theater of the Absurd such as Samuel Beckett ("Waiting for Godot"), Eugene Ionesco ("Rhinoceros"), and Jean Genet ("The Maids"). Pirandello's writing often focuses on elements of madness, illusion and isolation, all of which are inspired by the tragic aspects of his personal life in which his wife went insane and his daugther tried to commit suicide. In 1921 during a five week period Pirandello wrote his two acknowledged masterpieces, "Six Characters in Search of an Author" and "Henry IV." While "Six Characters" was successful when it opened in Rome it was also considered scandalous. However, it soon being performed in Milan, London, New York, and Germany.

The setting for "Six Characters in Search of an Author" is a rehearsal for a play (By Pirandello) that is interrupted by the arrival of six characters. Their leader, the father, tells the manager that they are looking for an author. It seems that the author who created them never finished their story and they are unrealized characters who have not yet been fully brought to life. The father insists that they are not real people but characters, and the manager and his cast can only laugh at the idea. But then they become intrigued by the bits and pieces of the story the six characters have to tell. The manager agrees to produce their story and become the author for whom they have been searching. He tries to stage the scene where the father meets the step-daughter in the dress shop but both characters insist that what the actors are doing is not realistic.
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21 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Roger B. Clough on January 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
Pirandello had writer's block. Luisa felt sorry for him. "Just write whatever's in your head", she said, "That's what you're always telling me. Everyone who's ever written a play-- I suppose that leaves out the critics and the university professors--knows that YOU don't write the play, you let the CHARACTERS write the play. Here", she said, "have a glass of wine. It'll help relax you." Two days later, when he was done, Luigi took the manuscript over to Alphonse, the literature teacher. Alphonse declared, after scanning it, "You've written a masterpiece!" "Really?" said Pirandello, "I mean, of course!" Alphonse stood up and gestured grandly with his arms, saying "Ah, the metaphysical ramifications! Reality and the imagination! You've started Postmodernism!" So Luigi did a little dance and headed home to bed.
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10 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 1997
Format: Paperback
He must be around here somewhere. Let me see, hello? Mr. Reviewer? Ms. Reviewer? How I am I supposed to start this? I guess I am a review for the Luigi Pirandello play, "Six Characters in Search of an Author." What am I supposed to say about it? I guess I could say that it is a wonderful piece about the search for truth. A reflection of the human experience. Dazzled and question ridden, on a journey to nowhere. But I haven't even read the thing! Mr. Reviewer? Ms. Reviewer? Tell me what it's about so I could have some idea to tell the readers out there. What? I can't hear you. Pirndello's best play? A post modern triumph? An easily stageable highway? Substitute for butter? What? I give up, you wicked person. Find someone else to be your slave, I am going to sleep now
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