Luigi Pirandello

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Luigi Pirandello (1934)

Luigi Pirandello (born June 28, 1867 in Girgenti, today's Agrigento , Sicily , † December 10, 1936 in Rome ) was an Italian writer . He is counted among the most important playwrights of the 20th century and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934 .


Bonn dissertation by Pirandello (1891)

Pirandello was born on a small estate called Caos (English: Chaos ) in a suburb of Agrigento, the son of a sulfur mine entrepreneur. He grew up in Agrigento and Palermo and published his first literary attempts while still at school. After finishing school in 1887, he studied Romance Philology in Rome in 1888/89 and from the winter semester 1889/90 to the summer semester 1891 at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn . In Bonn he did his doctorate on the subject of sounds and the development of sounds in Girgenti's dialect , but never became a lecturer at the Romance Department , even if he announced this several times. Today, a commemorative plaque reminds of his house at the time, Breite Straße 83, and a street named after him in the Bonn district of Ippendorf reminds of his time in Bonn.

Memorial plaque on the former residence in Bonn

Pirandello returned to Italy in 1892, settled in Rome as a freelance writer and worked as a journalist , but earned his living mainly from donations from his father and later from the proceeds of his wife's dowry. He married Antonietta Portulano at the end of January 1894; the marriage had three children. In 1897 he became a substitute university lecturer for Italian stylistics at the Pedagogical Academy in Rome. In 1904, after the bankruptcy of his father, in which Antonietta's dowry was lost, he actually had to keep the family as a writer and professor. In 1908 he was appointed full professor at this institute . He kept this academic position until 1922. His wife became mentally ill and finally had to be placed in a closed institution in 1919; there she died in 1959.

As early as 1904, Luigi Pirandello achieved his first major success with his serial novel Mattia Pascal , which appeared in Germany in 1905 as "The former Matthias Pascal". It was not until the 1910s that he turned to drama , the area that would bring him literary fame worldwide. In 1921/22 he had great success, sometimes accompanied by scandals, with his plays Six Persons Search for an Author and Henry IV. In 1924 he opened his own theater, the Teatro d'Arte in Rome, because Mussolini expressed his support for a fundamental modernization of Italian theater had agreed. Since this promise was not kept, he then went on tours with his troupe, which took him through Europe and South America, but had to dissolve them in 1928 and went into voluntary exile in Berlin, then on to Paris in 1930. In 1934 he received the Nobel Prize and returned to Rome, where he died on December 10, 1936.

Bust of Luigi Pirandello in a park in Palermo

Relationship to fascism

In the relevant literature, Pirandello's relationship to fascism is characterized as ambivalent. There is no doubt that he sent a telegram to Mussolini in 1924 in which he asked, in a deliberately submissive tone, to be accepted into the Fascist Party , to which he remained lifelong, for which he was heavily criticized in some cases. On the other hand, Pirandello's work, in which life is perceived as a “grotesque mask game”, which “logically also has to apply to the political sphere”, is by no means in accordance with fascist doctrine. During tours in South America he showed himself to be open to politically exiled people and thus earned criticism from the fascists, whom he met by demonstratively tearing up his party ID - whereupon he was asked for forgiveness and a new ID was issued. In this respect, a quote in which he described himself as "non-political" is also interesting. This is one of the reasons why there are approaches that associate Pirandello's closeness to fascism with indirect motives, such as the deep mistrust with which he treated previous governments. A more pragmatic motive could have been that he was looking for support for his theater company and could only find it if he himself was in the ranks of the fascists.

Literary work

Pirandello initially said that “he could only write in verse” - and in fact his youth work up to the turn of the century was mainly devoted to poetry and the form of the verse epic . However, in terms of form, it is too far behind international developments and therefore not very successful. Under the influence of the Verists ( Luigi Capuana ), he began to write short stories and novels, the content of which, of course, immediately questioned the basic veristic assumption of an "objective narrative" and the necessary sequence of cause and effect: From his first novel The Outcast (1893, published 1901) the rule of chance is what he calls the pranks that life and death play on people (the title of an early collection of short stories). His national fame begins with the novel Il fu Mattia Pascal ( Mattia Pascal (1904)), especially in the later novels ( Notes by the cameraman Serafino Gubbio , 1915; One, None, Hundred Thousand , 1925), he explores the limits of traditional storytelling. In particular, the last novel is partly designed almost as a dialogue with the reader, who is repeatedly ridiculed. The basis of his aesthetics is the umorismo originally developed by him in his habilitation thesis from 1908 , which is located, so to speak, on the border between the comic and the tragic: the humorist's laugh at the comic side of life becomes a bitter grin because he is in a second step comes to empathy with the ridiculous figure and grasps the tragedy of their suffering. Pirandello wrote almost 250 short stories, in which this approach is always based on seemingly realistic episodes, often in a Sicilian context.

Of course, it owes its world fame primarily to the theater. Under the critically influenced label “Theater des Grotesken”, Pirandello initially shows a “subversion from the inside” of the traditional-realistic theater of his time, perhaps most sharply in So It Is - If It Seems That To You (1916): Living There three people together, two of whom think each other is crazy because they disagree on the identity of the third person - and yet they love each other and get along well. Only when society intervenes and demands a clear identity for the third person - is it now the daughter of Mrs. Frola and first wife of Mr. Ponza or the second woman that Mrs. Frola thinks madly to be her daughter? - a decision has to be made, but the person in question declares their identity as 'both / and' or, in other words, 'I am who I am', so it seems that Pirandello has one here The basic idea of quantum theory anticipated. In 1921 he finally achieved world fame with Six People Looking for an Author , a drama that the theater seems to cancel by breaking into a rehearsal of a real theater for characters that an author has refused to do because their story seems too absurd to him but to bring it on stage, although this story seems to fail because of the different truths of each of the characters. With this piece and his Henry IV (1922) Pirandello became world famous. The trilogy of theater on the theater that began with the six people made him an avant-garde “revolutionary of the theater”, later he entered new territory with the trilogy of dramatic myths , especially with the last, unfinished myth, The Giants of the Mountains Poetically surrealist dream visions and a kind of “pre-post-dramatic theater” encounter in unheard-of density, as shown by performances of this work by Giorgio Strehler , Hans Gratzer (Vienna 1985), and Luca Ronconi ( Salzburg Festival 1994).



  • Mal giocondo ( Happy Misfortune ) 1889
  • Rheinische Elegien ( Elegie renane ), poems, 1889/90, published 1895.
  • Pasqua di Gea , poems, 1891.
  • Zampogna (1901).
  • Fuori di chiave ( Beyond the Clef ) 1912


Dramas originally performed or conceived in Sicilian (selection):

  • The vice ( La morsa ) and limes from Sicily ( Lumìe di Sicilia ) (UA Roma December 9, 1910);
  • Cecè (WP December 14, 1915);
  • Professor Toti ( Pensaci, Giacomino ) (WP July 10, 1916);
  • Liolà, Roma, Teatro Argentina , (Premiere November 4, 1916);

Theater of the "grotesque" (selection)

  • So it is - if it seems so to you ( Così è (se vi pare) ) (UA 18.6.1917);
  • The Fool's Cap ( Il berretto a sonagli ) (premiere June 27, 1917);
  • The oil jug ( La giara ) (UA July 9, 1917);
  • The lust of decency ( Il piacere dell'onestà ) (UA 11/27/1917);
  • The diploma ( La patente ) (WP 23.3.1918)
  • Playing his part ( Il giuoco delle parti ) (WP December 6, 1918);
  • Man, the beast and virtue ( L'uomo, la bestia e la virtù ) (UA 2.5.1919);
  • Everything in order ( Tutto per bene ) (WP 2.3.1920);

Trilogy of theater on the theater and plays from the 1920s (selection):

  • Six people are looking for an author ( Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore ) (UA May 10, 1921);
  • Each in his own way ( Ciascuno a suo modo ) (UA May 22, 1924);
  • Tonight there will be an impromptu play ( Questa sera si recita a soggetto ) (Premiere 25.1.1930, Königsberg in German);
  • Henry IV ( Enrico IV ) (premiered February 24, 1922);
  • The Fool ( L'imbecille ) (UA 10.10.1922);
  • Dressing the Naked ( Vestire gli ignudi ) (Premiere November 14, 1922);
  • The man with the flower in his mouth ( L'uomo dal fiore in bocca ) (UA 21.2.1923);
  • The life that I gave you ( La vita che ti diedi ) (UA 12.10.1923);
  • The Feast of Our Savior from the Ship ( Sagra del signore della nave ) (WP 04/04/1925);
  • As you want me ( Come tu mi vuoi ) (WP February 18, 1930);
  • If you are someone ( Quando si è qualcuno ) (UA Buenos Aires September 20, 1933 in Spanish);
  • You don't know how ( Non si sa come ) (Premiere Prague in the Czech language December 19, 1934);
  • I dream, but maybe not ( Sogno, ma forse no ) (WP Lisbon 9/22/1931 in Portuguese).

Trilogy of Myths

  • The new colony ( La nuova colonia ) (UA 24.3.1928)
  • Lazarus ( Lazzaro ) (WP 7/9/1929 Huddersfield in English)
  • The fairy tale of the swapped son ( La favola del figlio cambiato ) (opera with music by Malipiero, premiered March 24, 1934)
  • The Giants from the Mountains ( I giganti della montagna ) (unfinished, UA 5.6.1937)

Narrative prose

Film adaptations (cinema)

Film adaptations (television)

Many of Pirandello's plays were filmed for German-language television, especially in the 1960s:


The Casa Pirandello , the house where Pirandello was born in Caos, is now a museum. You can see his study, various editions of his works, photographs and the gardens in which his ashes were buried.

His son Fausto Pirandello was a famous painter.

further reading

  • Cora Rok: Luigi Pirandello, who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature, was a Bonn student . In: Bonner Heimat- und Geschichtsverein (Hrsg.): Bonner Geschichtsblätter . tape 68 , 2018, ISSN  0068-0052 , p. 275-290 .
  • Michael Rössner "Pirandello Mythenstürzer". Vienna 1981.
  • Johannes Thomas (Ed.): Pirandello Studies, Paderborn 1984.
  • Johannes Thomas (Ed.): Pirandello and the Naturalism Discussion, Paderborn 1986.
  • Frank-Rutger Hausmann - Michael Rössner (Ed.): "Theatricalization of Reality and Reality of Theater", Aachen 1988.
  • Frank-Rutger Hausmann - Michael Rössner (Ed.): "Pirandello and the European narrative literature", Aachen 1990
  • Michael Rössner (Ed.): "Pirandello between avant-garde and postmodernism", Wilhelmsfeld 1996
  • Michael Rössner "Information about my involuntary stay on earth. Life and work of Luigi Pirandellos", Berlin 2000.
  • Wolfgang Sahlfeld, "L'immagine riflessa. Pirandello e la cultura tedesca", Soveria Mannelli 2005.
  • Michael Rössner, Alessandra Sorrentino (a cura di): "Pirandello e la traduzione culturale", Rome 2012
  • Michael Rössner, Alessandra Sorrentino (ed.): "Pirandello. Narrazione - memoria - identità", Bern-New York 2019
  • Fausto De Michele Phenomena of a Reception. Luigi Pirandello between intertextuality and intermediality . Berlin 2015.
  • Cornelia Klettke: Luigi Pirandello, Be personaggi in cerca d'autore. In: Manfred Lentzen (Ed.): Italian theater of the 20th century in individual interpretations . Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2008, pp. 87–113.
  • Fausto De Michele, Michael Rössner (a cura di): Pirandello e l'identità europea. (Centro Nazionale Studi Pirandelliani) Metauro, Pesaro 2007.
  • Thomas Klinkert, Michael Rössner (eds.): Center and periphery: Pirandello between Sicily, Italy and Europe (= study series Romania . Volume 23). Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-503-07979-3 .
  • Andrea Camilleri : The swapped son (biography; Biografia del figlio cambiato, Milano 2000), Berlin 2001.
  • Giovanni di Stefano : Pirandello in Germania - Germania in Pirandello. In: Daniela Giovanardi, Harro Stammerjohann (Ed.): I Lettori d'italiano in Germania. Tübingen 1996. pp. 43-58.
  • Sarah Zappulla Muscarà (a cura di): Narratori siciliani del secondo dopoguerra. Giuseppe Maimone Editore, Catania 1990.
  • Elio Providenti (a cura di): Archeologie pirandelliane. Giuseppe Maimone Editore, Catania 1990.
  • Mirella Maugeri Salerno: Pirandello e dintorni. Giuseppe Maimone Editore, Catania, 1987.
  • Sarah Zappulla Muscarà, Enzo Zappulla: Pirandello e il teatro siciliano. Giuseppe Maimone Editore, Catania 1986.
  • Henning Mehnert: Pirandello “Enrico IV” and the problem of multiple personality. In: Germanic-Romanic monthly. 1978, p. 325 ff.
  • Franz Rauhut : The Young Pirandello or The Becoming of an Existential Spirit . Munich 1964.
  • Jochen Trebesch: Luigi Pirandello: Life and Work 1867-1936: "You write life or you live it" , Berlin: Nora, [2020], ISBN 978-3-86557-486-2

Web links

Commons : Luigi Pirandello  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ General-Anzeiger: Nobel laureate in literature studies in Bonn
  2. General-Anzeiger: Luigi-Pirandello-Straße in Ippendorf
  3. ^ Luigi-Pirandello-Strasse in the Bonn street cadastre
  4. Pirandello e la moglie Antonietta E 'di scena il demone della gelosia on , accessed on August 24, 2011 (ital.)
  5. See: E. Lauretta: Pirandello o la crisi. Milano 1994, p. 51: “Eccellenza, sento che questo è il momento più proprio di dichiarare una fede nutrita e servita semper in silenzio. Se l'Eccellenza Vostra mi stima degno di entrare nel Partito Nazionale Fascista, pregerò come massimo onore tenermi il posto del più umile e obbediente gregario. "
  6. See: Documenti: Pirandello e l'adesione al fascismo ( it. )
  7. R. Tranvnicek: politics and history in Pirandello's "I vecchi ei giovani". In: Italian. Magazine for Italian Language and Literature. 65, p. 20.
  8. Ibid.
  9. ^ Gaspare Giudice, Luigi Pirandello , UTET Torino 1963 ( it. )