The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello
(Dedalus European Classics)

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Synopsis

Pascal, a landowner fallen on hard times and trapped in a miserable marriage, runs away from home and wins a lot of money at the gaming tables in Monte Carlo. Meanwhile a body has been found in the millrace of his village and it is assumed that Pascal has killed himself. Seizing what looks like a chance to create a new life, he travels to Rome under an assumed name and struggles to invent a different identity which he can inhabit. He fails, returns home, finds his wife has remarried and has to act out the role of being as it were a living ghost. All these tragic events are recounted with verve and wit and comes across clearly in Simborowski's spirited translation from the Italian. Robert Nye in The Guardian
 

About Luigi Pirandello

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Born in Sicily, Pirandello attended the universities of Palermo, Rome, and Bonn. He obtained his doctorate in philology with a thesis on the dialect of his native town, Agrigento before settling in Rome to teach and write. In 1894, he married a Sicilian girl, Antonietta Portulano, who bore him three children before she went mad and afterwards provided the inspiration for many of his stories and plays. In all, Pirandello wrote 6 novels, some 250 short stories, and about 50 plays. It was a novel, Il fu Mattia Pascal (1904), that first brought him fame. Only in 1920, when he was past 50, did he turn seriously to playwriting. His first stage success had been a comedy, Liola (1917), written in the Agrigento dialect. It took its theme, if not its mood, from the Mandragola of Machiavelli (see Vols. 3 and 4). In 1921, Pirandello presented his most famous play Six Characters in Search of an Author. Here he seeks to confuse his spectators, who are forced into a paradox of reality and illusion when six "characters" search out the actors of a theatrical troupe to play out their inexorable story. The play exemplifies the Pirandellian conflict between art, which is unchanging and constant, and life, which is a continuous succession of mutations. Pirandello deliberately destroyed the traditional boundaries between audience and spectacle, reflecting the relativity and subjectivity of human existence. The play's unconventional format, which resulted in a riot, established Pirandello as Europe's leading avant-garde dramatist. The main body of Pirandello's plays falls into three overlapping categories, the first exploring the nature of the theater, the second the complexities of personality in the etymological or dramatic sense of the term, and the third rising to dramatic representation of the categorical imperatives of social, religious, and artistic community. Besides the world-famous Six Characters in Search of an Author (1918), his best plays in the three categories include Each in His Own Way (1924), It Is So (If You Think So) (1917), Henry IV (1922), The New Colony (1925), Lazarus, As You Desire Me (1930), and The Mountain Giants (1937), written after he had been awarded the Nobel Prize and left incomplete. Pirandello is the forerunner of much modern theater and literature; among the figures who owe their roots to the innovations of Pirandello are Bertolt Brecht, Jean Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Samuel Beckett (see Vol. 1). Nicoletta Simborowski read Modern Languages at Oxford and then worked in publishing and as a teacher at Westminster School in London.She combines a career as a lecturer in Italian at Christ Church, Oxford with freelance interpreting and translating for television and video. Her translations for Dedalus are: The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello, Abbe Jules and Sebastien Roch by Octave Mirbeau.
 
Published September 11, 2013 by Dedalus Limited. 252 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Late Mattia Pascal

The New York Review of Books

Realizing he has a chance to start over, to do it right this time, he moves to a new city, adopts a new name, and a new course of life—only to find that this new existence is as insufferable as the old one.

Nov 30 2004 | Read Full Review of The Late Mattia Pascal (Dedal...

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