Luigi Pirandello

Luigi Pirandello

Italian writer and playwright, Nobel laureate 1934
Date of Birth: 28.06.1867
Country: Italy

Biography of Luigi Pirandello

Luigi Pirandello, an Italian writer and playwright, was born in Girgenti (now Agrigento) in Sicily. He was the second of six children in a prosperous family that owned a sulfur mine. Pirandello's literary talent was evident from a young age, as he began writing poems and even composed a tragedy called "Barbaro" during his teenage years. However, his attempt to join the family business was unsuccessful, so he enrolled at the University of Rome in 1887. Dissatisfied with the quality of education, he transferred to the University of Bonn, where he studied literature and philosophy. In 1891, Pirandello earned a degree in Romance philology, writing his thesis on Sicilian dialects.

In 1889, his first poetry collection titled "Mal giocondo" was published, showing the influence of Giuseppe Carducci. After completing his studies, Pirandello remained in Bonn for another year, giving lectures at the university. He returned to Rome in 1893 and with financial support from his father, he began his writing career. His first novel, "L'esclusa" (The Outcast), was published in 1901, followed by his first collection of short stories, "Amori senz amore" (Love Without Love), in 1894. In the same year, he married Antonietta Portulato, the daughter of his father's business partner, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.

Pirandello became a professor of Italian literature at a teacher's college in Rome in 1898 and taught there until 1922. He wrote his first play, a one-act drama called "L'epilogo" (The Epilogue), in 1898, but it was not produced until 1910 under the title "La morsa" (The Vice).

In 1903, his father's sulfur mine was destroyed in a flood, leaving literature and teaching as Pirandello's only means of support. In 1904, his wife suffered a severe nervous breakdown and struggled with paranoia for the next 15 years, causing her to become jealous and have hysterical episodes. In 1919, Pirandello had to place her in a psychiatric clinic. Despite these family and financial difficulties, he continued to write and publish. His third novel, "Il fu Mattia Pascal" (The Late Mattia Pascal), gained great success in 1904 and explored the theme of "faces and masks."

Pirandello's theoretical and aesthetic views on art were expressed in two books published in 1908: the essay "L'umorismo" (Humor), which revealed his complex tragicomic vision of the world, and the collection of essays "Arte e scienza" (Art and Science). In 1915, he shifted his focus entirely to playwriting and wrote 16 plays between 1915 and 1921. One of his most famous works, "Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore" (Six Characters in Search of an Author), premiered in 1921 and gained international recognition.

In his mature works, Pirandello developed the theme of the illusory nature of human experience and the instability of identity. His characters lacked fixed values, and their personalities were blurred. In Pirandello's world, individuality was relative, and truth was only what happened in the present moment. He delved into the psychology and personality of his characters, peeling off their masks and illusions. Pirandello was greatly influenced by the theory of the subconscious proposed by French psychologist-experimenter Alfred Binet. His exposure to the works of German idealist philosophers during his time as a professor at the University of Bonn also shaped his thinking.

Pirandello not only became a renowned playwright but also a respected director, often staging his own plays. In 1923, he joined the fascist party and, with Mussolini's support, established the National Art Theater in Rome. The theater went on a tour of Europe in 1925-1926 and South America in 1927, but financial difficulties eventually led to its dissolution in 1928.

Some scholars have accused Pirandello of being a collaborator with the fascists. However, he publicly declared his apolitical stance and criticized the fascist party on several occasions. After the closure of the National Art Theater, Pirandello faced difficulties getting his plays staged in Italy. He spent some time living in Paris and Berlin before returning to Italy in 1933 at the personal request of Mussolini. In 1934, Pirandello was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his creative courage and inventiveness in reviving theatrical and stage arts.

Luigi Pirandello passed away in Rome on December 10, 1936. Following his last wishes, his funeral was held without a public ceremony, and his remains were laid to rest in his homeland of Sicily. Pirandello's innovative plays and his exploration of human psychology and the nature of reality have had a profound influence on European drama. He is considered one of the most influential playwrights of his time.