Biography of Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

Playwright and Italian novelist, born on June 28, 1867 in Agrigento (Sicily) and died on December 10, 1936, in Rome. It is the most important of the interwar period Italian playwright, and one of the greatest influence in the theater of s. XX. He/She studied philosophy and literature at the universities of Palermo, Rome and Bonn. He/She was Professor of Italian at the higher teaching Institute of Rome, and Professor of Italian literature at the female Normal School of Rome between the years 1897 and 1921, language and literature until its growing reputation as a writer allowed him to devote himself entirely to his literary career. His dramatic works are of universal significance. Founded in 1925 in Rome the Odescalchi theater, which presented their works and toured Europe and America. He/She was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1934, and was distinguished him as a member of the Academy of Italy.

Before deciding to write theater, Pirandello was already known as a novelist. His first short work was Lumie di Sicilia (1910) and the first normal duration is non cosi (if not so, 1915). In his theatrical production two large distinct epochs are distinguished: a first time dedicated to works by regionalist character and another second that makes "theatre of ideas". The works of the first period, written in Sicilian dialect, are still the popular tradition of satirical drama of the classical Greece; they are dramas impregnated Dionysian passion and paganism, as Liolà, considered the masterpiece of this period. In the second epoch, Pirandello addressed a theatre of high intellectual ambitions and greater technical complexity. The key issues are the loneliness of the individual, the search for personal identity, the relativism of knowledge and truth, etc. The trilogy composed of six characters in search of an author, each in their own way and tonight is improvised is of this period; in these works, it shows a mastery of theatrical mechanics, and many stage directors considered them as one of the most exciting and instructive mounting theatrical exercises. Pirandello uses the formula of the "theatre within theatre", i.e., the actors give life to characters which, in turn, represent themselves as characters in a theater that is life itself.

Essentially, Pirandello is an author whose realism puts in question the fact of reality. For Ibsen character could be complex, but the character was always one, in spite of the complexity. For Pirandello, "each of us believes that it is one, but that is a false assumption;" each of us is many, many, few are all the potential of being there in us... We know only a part of ourselves, and in all likelihood, the less significant". It is the concept of the mask. There is, for him, an inner mask seen only by the person wearing it, and also external masks, by which one is known by others. This outer mask can be created by the person or, on the contrary, imposed by society, whose public opinion prevents you to rid of it. This discussion move to artistic creation: what hope is there for any writer to be able to describe the depths of any character? what connection do these entities of fiction that Act on stage with real individuals that are supposed to represent? Pirandello puts into question the theatrical naturalism.

All his works investigate the same problem, and he/she was able to find varied topics that give expression to their ideas. His early pieces include, in addition to the aforementioned Lumie of Sicily, the walrus (Vice, 1913) and works without date Il dovere of doctor (the duty of the doctor), Cece and L'imbecile (the idiot), minor. His first attempt at the songs that made him famous was Pensaci, Giacomino! (Think about it, Giacomino!, 1916). An old master called Toti has a peculiar extravagance: understanding that the School Board is obliged to pay a pension to the widows of deceased members, deliberately marries a young woman, Lillina, who is about to have a child of Giacomino. Toti tries to strengthen ties between his wife and her lover, so grow the gossip, but he/she is happy because he/she has managed to simultaneously pleasure for himself and the satisfaction of a good action to save a girl from a difficult situation.

Also in 1916, Pirandello produces two more works: All'uscita (at the door) and Cosi e vi pare (so if you think so). The latter already is fully fantastically rational irrationality. A husband, Signor Ponza, supposedly lost his first wife in an earthquake and marries again, keeping this second wife away from the alleged mother's first marriage, Signora Frola, who believes that the Signora Ponza, his daughter, is still alive. But the mother says that the current Signora Ponza is actually his daughter, and he/she is forced to pretend that it is a second wife by a quirk of the husband. For its part, the Signora Ponza is ready to follow one or another approach. The logic of the rationing of the characters provokes in the viewer a question about where the truth lies.

His two following parts are Il Cap sonagli (the hat of bells, 1917) and Il piacere dell'onesta (the pleasure of honesty, 1917). The first is, outwardly, a Sicilian drama about jealousy. Beatrice Fiorica, due to malicious gossip of a friend, the Saracena, consumes is thinking that her husband has an affair with the wife of Ciampa, an official ugly and grotesque. To catch her husband get Ciampa asked police that it breaks at home when he/she is gone. If Fiorica is caught, Beatrice will have to leave, which will be in a bad situation; Why Ciampa, who knows that only tolerate the peccadilloes of his wife and confront the world can maintain respect for himself, to convince Beatrice that it consents to take her by crazy, to maintain the social mask that makes life easier. The last part of the work introduces the subject of puppets, and reveals the influence Pirandello the Commedia dell'Arte. The real Ciampa has an existence below the snowman when your neighbors see it.

The pleasure of honesty is the aristocratic society. A girl, agate Renni, has been seduced by a wealthy married the Marquis Fabio Colli. To hide the scandal, this seeks that a friend of his impoverished, Angelo Baldovino, marry agate and can thus continue its relations with it. Baldovino accepts but, once married, requires that agate is decent. This righteousness is that agate was fall in love with him also.

L'innesto (graft, 1917) the psychological analysis of Pirandello still makes no credible completely. Il gioco delle parti (the role of everyone, 1918) presents the situation of a husband, Leone Galla, who accepts the love intrigue of his wife, Silia, with Guido. He/She maneuvers to get the husband's death and, pretending that he/she has been insulted by a young nobleman, declares that Leone should challenge him to a duel to protect his honor. The husband accepted and asked Guido to be his godfather. When the time of the duel, the husband does not show up, with what the Godfather has to take its place and dies.

Ma non è a serious thing (but is not a serious thing, 1918) was followed by L'uomo, the beast e virtù (the man, the beast and the virtue, 1919). This work has roots in mandragola, Machiavelli's Renaissance tradition, and it is a farce in which a husband, Captain, rarely going home of his wife, the Signora Perella, and when it does, so their fear to have another child, seeking the opportunity to play with it and leave the home immediately. He/She is consoled with the small master Paolino, who leaves her pregnant. In order to save face, Paolino concocts a ploy that involves the use of an aphrodisiac that Signor Perella lie down with his wife.

With Tutto per bene (everything for the best, 1920), Pirandello returns to the contrast between image and reality. This is one of its most incisive and moving dramas. Everyone thinks that the girl that passes through Palma Lori is actually the daughter of Senator Manfroni. Manfroni has provided money for their education, and all accept this as fair. Martino Lori, his theoretical father, seem to know this common view and pretends to be simply devoted to Palm, simulating the pain by the memory of his late wife. The daughter treats him with irritation because he/she thinks he/she knows what all accepted as true. Martino, in turn, believes in the deepest of himself that his wife was a Saint, and his love for Palm is true. To find out what has been happening, your world is crumbling and although he/she continues his previous fiction, he/she does it deliberately, and her daughter understands the situation and passed to admire him deeply. The surface of behavior remains the same, but the depth has changed.

Throughout all his works, Pirandello explores this concept of the mask, either in a satirical or tragic way. A further development is marked by La Signora Morli one e due (La Señora Morli, one and two, 1920), revised in 1926 as due in a (two in one). In it the author squints at different personalities contained in a human being. A woman divided almost alike between the jovial and bewildered creature that has been the wife of Ferrante Morli and the serious and responsible mother that has become by its marriage with Lello Carpani. Both aspects coexist in nature related, ironically, a husband and a lover, in a game of opposites.

After this study on a double personality came to light, his most famous work, Sei personaggi in nearby d'Autore (six characters in search of an author, 1921), which achieved great success in the Assembly of Pitoëff in Paris, in 1923. In a theatre in which a new part of the own Pirandello being tested, enter six characters illuminated by a light. They are creatures of the imagination of an artist, some with fully-developed personality, others only fleetingly. When searching for an author they are eager to realize their destiny, and attempt to explain to the theatre Director: "you know that life is full of absurdities that do not even need to seem credible, because they are true... I say that madness would be precisely the opposite: strive to create plausible things to make them look real. On the other hand, what you call madness... is the raison d ' être of the office of you." It is a demonstration of the inability of realism to unravel reality. The fantastic sketch of the plot in which six characters are wrapped, Pirandello shows the total inability to ascribe motives to his actions and hope that their lives can be adequately translated into theatrical terms.

Enrico Quarto (Enrique IV, 1922) was his next masterpiece. During a ride, the protagonist fell from his horse, and has been living long years under the illusion that he/she is, indeed, the character who had represented in the masquerade. Surrounded by a gang of servers, maintained a Regal pomp to the position of the German monarch of s. XI. After a few years is it cured of his insanity and understand who is, but he/she hates both the ordinary world that prefers to retain the appearance of his madness to others. This strange Court reached the Marchioness Matilda Spina, which Enrique IV had loved in the past, her daughter Frida and baron Tito Belcredi, which had caused the accident responsible for the obsession of the protagonist. These are disguised with clothes of the s. XI and Enrique, after denouncing them, wielding a sword and kills Belcredi, which, although it is now healthy, has to continue his masquerade if you want to save your life.

In Vestire gli ignudi (clothing the naked, 1922) studied a personality without character. Ersilia Drei, a governess whose grey life has only been interrupted by a passing flirtation with a young officer of the Navy and by an affair with his Lord, poisons are. In the belief that it is going to die, it makes a highly romantic account of his adventures to a journalist. An old novelist, carries Ludovico note, impressed by this narration, hospital to his home. There, he/she tries to create a personality adhering anxiously to the interpretation of the novelist of his actions. Note sees in it a thing, the young naval officer sees another and his former master, another. This drama was followed by work in an act L'UOMO dal fiore in bocca (the flower in the mouth man, 1923) and per Ciascuno a suo mode (each of which in its own way, 1924), where again the worlds of reality and fiction are interconnected. This last work, the first Act shows a work that is represented on the stage; After this, we went to the lounge and hear viewers comment it. The fictional story has a particular resemblance to the true story of a woman who is sitting in the seats, Delia Moreno.

In later works, the exhaustion of the real formula is accused, and there is a movement towards the symbolic elements that gives these works a somewhat abstract appearance. The most important of this stage are Questa sera if he/she recites a soggetto (tonight is improvised, 1930) and eats your mi vuoi (as you want me, 1930). The first is a new line of Sei personaggi, making patent the contrast between the feigned excitement of the actor with the same excitement. In the second, a woman is held by Bruno Pieri by his wife Lucia, lost for a time. Your memory seems to be returning to it after an attack of amnesia, just when it is another woman who the family claims as the true Lucia.

Symbolic style can exemplify with works like La sagra del Signore della Nave (our Lord of the ship, 1925) and I giganti della montagna (the giants of the mountain, 1937). The first was written expressly for the theatre Odescalchi, founded by Pirandello in 1925, and presents the contrast between the license of the secular and the solemnity of the Church. The second, his last work, features a group of wretched living in huts under the spell of a magician, and existing characters, half real, half-fictitious arrive: a Countess who carries a play of a deceased poet, a troupe of actors and a set of allegorical figures, spirits of the mountain that symbolizes the force of nature.

Without faith in none of the moral, political or religious systems established, characters from this author are reality only by themselves and in doing so, find themselves are unstable and unexplained phenomena full of inconsistencies and with a personality defined by the reflection of the judgment of those around them. Nothing is good or bad in itself, but as you look at it.

However, this deep pessimism set is smooth through the use of humor, although it is disconcerting because it arises from the absurdity of human existence. His influence on contemporary theatre through release of the conventions of realism, and paved the way to Anouilh and Sartre, Existentialist pessimism as well as the theatre of the absurd from Beckettand Ionesco , and religious Theatre in verse of Eliot.

At the same time wrote poetry as Roman Elegies, Sicily and evil rhymes alegre; short stories which were collected under the general title stories to one year (1933); and novels the excluded (1901), old and young, one, none and a hundred thousand and the late Matías Pascal.


AA.VV., The Cambridge Guide to World Theatre, ed. Martin Banham, Cambridge University Press, 1988.

NICOLL, Allardyce, history of World Theatre, Madrid, Aguilar, 1964.