Luigi Pirandello

1867-1936

Biography


Pirandello was born on Jun. 28, 1867 in Agrigento, Sicily, and died on Dec. 10, 1936 in Rome. He was educated at the University of Rome and Bonn University, where he received his doctorate in linguistics.

Pirandello produced his first novel, The Outcast, in 1893. In 1894, he married Antonietta Portulano, who subsequently suffered a mental breakdown which influenced much of Pirandello's later writings. In 1904, he published The Late Mattia Pascal, which won critical acclaim and is one of his best works. In 1916, he began to write for the theatre and over the following years he produced numerous plays. His best works during these years were As Before, Better Than Before (1920), Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921), Henry IV (1921) and Naked (1922).

By the early 1920's, Pirandello had been noticed by Mussolini, who publicly supported him and helped to increase his popularity. He toured the world in promoting his plays and was extremely successful.

In 1934, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He wrote hundreds of short stories, about 40 plays, some novels and some verse and translations.

Among his other best-known works are Loves Without Love (1894 - Amori Senz Amore), The Merry-Go-Round of Love (1902 - Il Turno), On Humor (1908 - L'Umorismo), At The Gate (1916 - All'uscita), Cap and Bells (1917 - Il Berrette a Sonagli), All For The Best (1920 - Tutto Per Bene), Diana and Tuda (1926 - Diana e la Tuda), The New Colony (1928 - La Nuova Colonia), As You Desire Me (1931), The Naked Truth (1934) and Better Think Twice About It (1934).

Self-Description


In about 1909, when Pirandello had already established himself as a writer with his novels and short stories, he wrote a brief autobiographical sketch of himself that was eventually published in the Roman periodical Le lettere, the issue of October 15, 1924. Here, in part, is what he said of himself:

"l was born in Sicily, and specifically on a country estate near Girgenti, on June 28, 1867. I came to Rome for the first time in 1886 and stayed there for two years. In October of 1888 1 left for Germany and remained there two and a half years, that is until April of 1891. I took my degree there, at the University of Bonn, in letters and philosophy. In 1891 1 came back to Rome and have not moved from here since. I have been teaching, alas, for fifteen years at the Istituto Superiore di Magistero Femminile [a girls' high school]. I say alas not only because teaching weighs on me enormously, but also because my greatest desire would be to retire to the country to work.

I live in Rome as sheltered a life as possible; I go out only a few hours a day toward evening, to get a little exercise, and in the company, if possible, of a friend or two: Ciustino Ferri or Ugo Fleres.

I very seldom go to the theatre. By ten o'clock every night I am in bed. I get up early in the morning and habitually work until noon. After lunch, usually, I go back to my desk at two-thirty and stay there until five-thirty, but, after the morning hours, I do no more writing, unless there is some urgent necessity; I either read or study. In the evening, after dinner, I chat a bit with my little family, I read the titles of the articles and the headlines in a few newspapers, and then to bed.

As you can see, there is nothing in my life worth revealing: it is all interior, in my work and my thoughts, which . . . are not happy ones.

I think life is a very sad piece of buffoonery, because we have in us, without being able to ascertain how or why or from whom, the need to fool ourselves continuously by the spontaneous creation of a reality (one for each and never the same for everyone) that from time to time reveals itself to be vain and illusory. Whoever understands the game can no longer fool himself, but if you cannot fool yourself, you can no longer derive any enjoyment or pleasure from life. So it goes.

My art is full of bitter compassion for all those who fool themselves, but this compassion can't help but be succeeded by the ferocious derision of a destiny that condemns man to deception.

This, succinctly, is the reason for the bitterness of my art, and also of my life."