It is one of his best-known works and was his first major treatment of the theme of the mask. The protagonist, Mattia Pascal, finds that his promising youth has, through misfortune or misdeed, dissolved into a dreary dead-end job and a miserable marriage. His inheritance and the woman he loved are stolen from him by the same man, his eventual wife and mother-in-law badger him constantly, and his twin daughters, neglected by their mother, can provide him with joy only until an untimely death takes them. Death robs him even of his beloved mother. January 1, Steven Godin Recognized as one of the founding figures of modern drama and theater, Nobel Laureate Luigi Pirandello is not so well known in the English language as a novelist and short story writer, but this humorous affair written in shows he could work wonders in both fields.
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His wedding is not more happy : his mother-in-law, with whom he lives, hates him. After a strong row, Mattia leaves to MonteCarlo, where he wins a lot of money in a casino. On the train back, after 12 days, he learns on reading a newspaper that, in his villages, everybody thinks he is dead : a body unrecognizable has been found in his well. He then decides to start a new life under the name of Adriano Meis.
After having travelled through the North of Italy and the South of Germany, he finally settles in Rome in a family pension.
He falls in love with the daughter of the owner. Furthermore, without a real civil status, he can neither marry nor work, nor even having real friendship for fear he might betray his secret.
He is condemned to a social non-existence. He goes back to his village, after several years. There, he finds his wife married to one of his friends, with a little daughter. There again, even if his identity is recognized, he is doomed to stay the late Mattia Pascal, officially dead. The style, as often with Pirandello, mixes drama and humour, and is voluntarily quite easy to read in order to make the novel accessible to everybody and not only to a well-educated elite.
What author will be able to say how and why a character was born in his fantasy? The mystery of artistic creation is the same as that of birth. A woman who loves may desire to become a mother; but the desire by itself, however intense, cannot suffice. One fine day she will find herself a mother without having any precise intimation when it began. In the same way an artist imbibes very many germs of life and can never say how and why, at a certain moment, one of these vital germs inserts itself into his fantasy, there to become a living creature on a plane of life superior to the changeable existence of every day.
That has been said. And a certain body of fact is there to support such a contention. Many of his comedies, besides, are reworkings of his short stories; as though he himself regarded the latter as incomplete expressions of the vision they contained.
It has leisure to demonstrate how the fiction grows out of life, how, if it be deliberately assumed, any one would, naturally and logically, have so assumed it. And it shows, besides, some of the effects of the fiction on character: if Adriano Meis cannot escape wholly from Mattia Pascal, neither can Mattia Pascal escape wholly from Adriano Meis.
The novel, in a word, possesses intrinsically that humanity, that humanness, which the Pirandello play more often suggests than contains. The disparagement is aimed at the imitators of an art, which, in its own time, was new and which in its own domain was original. Nevertheless religions are rarely destroyed without some attacks upon the idols that symbolize them, and without the erection of new idols in the places of the old.
They are asking their rulers to govern, their priests to pray, their teachers to teach, their workmen to work, and their writers—to say something. It has a big idea, exemplified in characters skilfully chosen and consistently evolved on the background of their particular environment.
It is a work accordingly universal in its bearing, but specific in the milieu it describes. One or two things in this milieu may seem exotic to an American. The self-expressiveness, on occasion, of Marianna Dondi-Pescatore might appear overdrawn to some of us—though it is not. We have to remember, again, that there is no divorce in Italy; that therefore Mattia Pascal cannot be free of Romilda Pescatore; that, therefore, Adriano Meis cannot marry Adriana Paleari. We have to remember, finally, that life in over-populated Europe is based on the defensive principle; that a man is guilty until proved innocent; that unless his papers are in order, unless he can tell who he is, where he came from, and why he came from there, he cannot find employment, transact business, or establish social connections of any important kind.
Some critics may not agree with Pirandello in his attitude toward the episode—that trick, for which he is sometimes accused, of laughing at his audiences—arousing interest in situations out of which nothing comes. The criticism of such devices, if criticism there be, is, however, that they show excess, rather than lack, of technique. This man, Pascal, is always smiling at himself, however benevolently he smiles at other people.
Adriano Meis, perhaps, is more plain and matter of fact. I note the detail simply to point out that there is a slight differentiation in manner in the two parts of the book—the career of Adriano Meis being enclosed, as it were, by the jest of Mattia Pascal and the outcome of that jest. I have adapted one or two scenes where a pun compelled a detour; I have given, for special reasons, a new ending to the episode of the wedding ring. Otherwise the rendering should be fairly exact, though not by any means literal.
1904 – The Late Mattia Pascal
Central questions of Pirandellos novel are Who am I and What is freedom. One of the few things, in fact about the only thing I was sure of was my name: Mattia Pascal. The last time I read Pirandello I was in high school, and I think I read some plays that I have to re-read because I dont remember them very well. This is his most-famous novel that has some autobiographical features and is exploring themes of identity, self, freedom, and death that were the most obvious and prominent, spiced up with a humorous note that made this novel relatively light read. Mattia was full of deep introspective philosophical questions, with a little bit of hopeless, nihilistic world-view. I would say that death and mourning really accompanied him through his childhood and adolescence and shaped his perspective on himself and the world.
THE LATE MATTIA PASCAL
The protagonist, Mattia Pascal, finds that his promising youth has, through misfortune or misdeed, dissolved into a dreary dead-end job and a miserable marriage. His inheritance and the woman he loved are stolen from him by the same man, his eventual wife and mother-in-law badger him constantly, and his twin daughters, neglected by their mother, can provide him with joy only until an untimely death takes them. Death robs him even of his beloved mother. To escape, he decides one day to sneak off to Monte Carlo, where he encounters an amazing string of luck, acquiring a small fortune.