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.
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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
This is an excellent novel, and not only is the content superb, this edition is an absolute pleasure to read. The pages are extremely smooth and the paper is of great quality. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jay Mey
Right in the first few pages the author tells us this is the story of a man who “died” twice. Our hero, or anti-hero, is going nowhere in late 1800’s Italy. Read morePublished 17 months ago by James W. Fonseca
Dostoevsky writes deeply into the mind of humanity in a way that is both universal and redeeming. This author's effort struck me as entirely self absorbed and unredeemable.Published 17 months ago by jay
If you like Italian litterature this is a MUST!!!!
Pirandello is simply a genius and you cannot miss this book.
Written in quite a beguiling first-person narrative, we follow the adventures of Mattia Pascal; in debt, unhappily married to a depressed wife, and with a witch of a... Read morePublished on April 14, 2013 by sally tarbox
Pirandello is best known for his plays, but he wrote some excellent short stories, and also novels, such as this comic masterpiece, It's not as modernist as his plays, but the... Read morePublished on March 1, 2013 by Great Faulkner's Ghost
A brilliant, tragi-comic existentialist examination! An enjoyable and thought-provoking commentary on the human condition, identity, art, and life, death and what lies in between.Published on August 2, 2010 by Stefania Casi (The Cultural Sojourner)
I would definetely recommend this novel. I enjoyed it very much. It helped me to come in contact with my innerself, and it made me think of things that i had never given any... Read morePublished on October 16, 2002