From Publishers Weekly
Universally recognized as one of the founding figures of modern drama and theater, Pirandello is virtually unknown here as a novelist and short story writer. Written in 1904, this novel touches on some of the themes that reverberate throughout his work: illusion and reality, the enigmas of identity, art and life. The narratorprotagonist is something of a buffoon, a figure out of comic opera, the impoverished son of a once-rich family stripped bare by a villainous swindler of an estate manager. Living a dreary life as an archivist, tired of his dismal marriage, plagued by an intrusive mother-in-law, tormented by creditors, he slips away to Monte Carolo and hits it big. While he is gone, a suicide in his hometown is mistakenly identified as the very same Mattia, who, being an enterprising scamp, changes name and identity, marries anew in adopted territory, fakes his own suicide and returns to the orginal scene as his old self, to the consternation and confusion of everyone. Comedy descends to farce and slapstick here and there; but no harm done. Essentially the novel is a lark, with some shadowy overtones; and the portrait of town lifethe "biographies of worms," Mattia saysis drawn in acid.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Three writers of the twentieth century have given voice to—and leant their names to—our disquiet, our injuries, and our fear; at the same time, through the catharsis or measure of contemplation, which are among the revelations of art, they have helped us to live by tempering our anxiety and desperation; and I am using this term, tempering, in a musical sense…of striking a more pure, more cristalline, more vibrant note. These three writers are Pirandello, Kafka, and Borges.
— Leonardo Sciascia
Very funny, often hilariously so. It is also moving, disturbing, tragic. For Pirandello saw comedy residing in “the fundamental contradiction … between human aspiration and frailty,” a contradiction that induced “a certain perplexity between weeping and laughing.”
— The New York Times Book Review