PSA Conference – Global Legacies: Pirandello across Centuries and Media – 16 September 2017

The Pirandello Society of America presents its one-day conference

“Global Legacies – Pirandello across Centuries and Media”

Saturday 16 September 2017, 8:00 am – 6:30 pm

Hunter College, CUNY, 695 Park Ave, New York City

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Luigi Pirandello’s birth, this one-day conference sponsored by the Pirandello Society of America seeks a broad spectrum of contributions that evaluate and illuminate Pirandello’s legacies on world theatre, literature, cinema, and other media over a period of more than a hundred years. We encourage contributions that are interdisciplinary and engage with a variety of theoretical models when looking at Pirandello’s work and its multifaceted resonance.

English is the official language of the Conference.

Keynote Speaker: Pietro Frassica, Princeton University

Attendance is free and open to the public.

The full program for the conference is available. Click here to read.

For further information about The Pirandello Society of America please visit our website at: and Facebook page:

The Pirandello Society of America is pleased to be featured among a series of international conferences being held across the globe in honor of Pirandello’s 150th anniversary: Pirandello International 2017, Pirandello in a Globalized World. From Agrigento to Rome, Johannesburg to Munich, these events demonstrate the world-spanning reach of Pirandello’s influence today. More information and the full calendar for the international conference series can be found online:

Pirandello at 150 – MLA 2017 Panel in Philadelphia

Join us for the upcoming PSA panel at the Philadelphia Marriott for the session

Pirandello at 150″

Saturday, 7 January

12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 404, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the Pirandello Society of America

Presiding: Jana O’Keefe Bazzoni, Baruch Coll., City Univ. of New York

1. “One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand: Images of Pirandello between World War II and the Translational Turn,” Michael Roessner, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich

2. “Pirandello’s Thought and the South,” Alessandra Sorrentino, EPẒ-Munich

3. “The Legacy of Il fu Mattia Pascal and Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore in Italian Literature,” Nicolino Applauso, James Madison Univ.

Respondent: Michael Subialka, Univ. of California, Davis. (formerly Univ. of Oxford, St. Hugh’s Coll.)

For abstracts, click here.

Pirandello in the New Millennium: Innovative Approaches and Methods. NeMLA Convention in Hartford, CT 17-20 March 2016

Organized by Lisa Sarti (BMCC, The City University of New York) and Michael Subialka (Oxford University)

Session Chair and Respondent: Lisa Sarti (BMCC, The City University of New York)

Paola Basile (Lake Erie College), Learn with Pirandello
Anna Santucci (Brown University), Staging Pirandello: bridging the gap between language and literature through drama
Michela Ronzani (University of North Carolina School of the Arts), Pirandello and the others: Teaching Pirandello to Theater Students
Francesca Facchi (University of Toronto), The Many Lives of Pirandello’s “Questa sera si recita a soggetto”
Stephen Donatelli (New York University), Pirandello and the Risks of Succeeding

Call for papers: Pirandello: Performativity and Role-Playing

The Society for Pirandello Studies one-day conference

in collaboration with the Italian Department at the University of Edinburgh

Pirandello: Performativity and Role-Playing

Saturday 17 October 2015

University of Edinburgh: 50 George Square, Project room.

The annual one-day conference of the Society for Pirandello Studies aims to embrace a wide variety of methods and approaches to Pirandello’s œuvre, and to bring together theatre professionals, critics and scholars representing a range of disciplines. This year’s conference focuses on a quintessential Pirandellian theme, namely that of role-playing, within the contemporary framework of performativity theory. Particularly welcome are contributions that relate Pirandello’s texts to different media and/or genres. Abstracts of c.200 words (in English) for papers of 20 minutes’ duration should be sent to Enza De Francisci at

The deadline for abstracts is Friday 21 August 2015.

For further information about The Society for Pirandello Studies, including membership and Pirandello Studies (the annual journal), please visit our website at and Facebook page:

Call for Papers: MLA Convention in Austin

The Pirandello Society of America is pleased to invite your submissions for two proposed panels at the 2016 MLA Convention in Austin. We encourage interdisciplinary and comparative approaches.

“Mediated Legacies: New Theoretical Approaches to Pirandello”

We seek proposals for papers that use new perspectives and apply innovative theoretical lenses to approach the work and thought of Pirandello. Topics of particular interest include the development of Pirandellian thought across genres and media and its resonance in visual or other forms (spanning from visual arts to music and beyond). How does Pirandello’s work coincide with new theoretical approaches to the study of literature, the arts, and (material) culture? How might these new lenses produce different perspectives and unexpected insights into his work and thought?

The panel welcomes interdisciplinary, cross-genre, and comparative approaches.

Please submit abstracts of approximately 250 words by 15 March 2015 to Jana O’Keefe Bazzoni ( and Michael Subialka (

“Pirandello in the Classroom and Beyond: Innovative Pedagogy”

We welcome proposals for a seminar-style panel that seeks to combine presentations with performance and practical, workshop-style discussion (following suggestions elaborated by the MLA in the “Innovative Proposals” document, available online:

This panel will examine how Pirandello’s works are taught and how they are communicated to new publics (in the classroom, in the theater, online, and beyond). We are particularly interested in theoretical/pedagogical innovations relating to adaptation, translation, and performance.

Interdisciplinary work, workshop proposals (for example, course syllabi for workshop discussion), performance presentations, and other innovative contributions are all welcome and encouraged.

Please submit abstracts of approximately 250 words, including a description of the type of intervention envisioned, its anticipated length, and how it would contribute to the innovative structure of the proposed panel. Deadline 15 March 2015. Email to Jana O’Keefe Bazzoni ( and Michael Subialka (

MLA Conference – Chicago 2014

Panel “Modern Consciousness: Pirandellian Obsessions”


Maternity and Sexuality: Luigi Pirandello’s Constant Obsessions

Daniela Bini, University of Texas, Austin

 “Non è una donna; è una madre!—E il suo dramma—(potente, signore, potente!) –consiste tutto, difatti, in questi quattro figli.” The Mother in Six Characters represents simple nature in opposition to the other characters who “are realized as spirit,” writes Pirandello in the Preface.

The Aristotelian belief in male as spirit and female as matter that informed Western thought for centuries, still lingered in Pirandello’s psyche and it was combined with the Catholic worship of the Virgin Mother. And the Mother is a suffering mother, a Mater dolorosa who annihilates any individual needs and desires for the “sake” of the child. Moreover the worship of the mother figure in Pirandello, like in other Southern writers, is strictly connected with, and actually determined by the fear of sexuality, especially female, which is defined as evil. Giovanni Verga’s story “The She-wolf” epitomizes such fear that can be justified only by attributing demonic power to the erotic female. Thus the dichotomy mother-whore.

The psychoanalyst Karen Horney devoted many pages to the study of the “dread of women” many males display and identifies it with the fear of the sexual female.

This paper examines Pirandello’s own fear of sexuality and his obsession with maternity in his life and his work—an obsession he will try to exorcise over and over in his artistic creation.


No comment: The voice of silence in Luigi Pirandello’s Quaderni di Serafino Gubbio operatore

Alessia Palanti, Columbia University

Silence literally and allegorically concludes Luigi Pirandello’s novel, Quaderni di

Serafino Gubbio operatore (1916). After a fateful accident at the workplace, the

protagonist Serafino Gubbio—a camera operator for “Kosmograph Studios”—becomes mute out of shock. Counterintuitively, it is Serafino’s aphasia that articulates the trepidations surrounding the advancement of cinema as the artistic offspring of technological development. Pirandello sensed the movement of the times—the seventh art would ultimately make his beloved theatre and literature anachronistic if not obsolete. In keeping with Pirandellian paradox, the anxieties of this particular socio-historical milieu are expressed is in the form of a journal that akin to a film camera attempts to capture or represent a singular “authentic” reality, and bestows it its voice. In this novel, Pirandello crafts a metaliterary stratagem to quite literally “make believe,” that the protagonist’s voice undergoes a process of suffocation: the literary equivalent of cinematic “special effects.” By the nature of its form, cinema blurs the lines between reality and illusion: it contributes to the impasse of articulation and epistemological

uncertainties that progress aimed at resolving. Aligned with Thomas Harrison’s notion of “essayism,” Quaderni is both a search for the articulation of “reality” and is itself an articulation of “reality,” unfolding as a critique of the institution of film as symptomatic of an increasingly dystopic society. The novel enfolds within it a voice that—in declaring its own silence and succumbing to aphasia—continues to speak, and polemically so, about the ramifications of technological progress, articulating its impact on the human condition.


Pirandello’s Genealogy of Modernist Subjectivity in Il fu Mattia Pascal

Lauren Beard, University of Toronto

In his 1904 novel The Late Mattia Pascal, Pirandello conceives of the modern subject as living in an exploded cosmology, and, in what amounts to a parable of Modernist allegory, suggests that the difference between ancient and modern tragedy is “a hole torn in a paper sky.” Pirandello describes a puppet theatre production of Orestes and suggests that if a hole were torn in the sky while Orestes was trying to avenge his father, he would become distracted: “his eyes, at that point, would go straight to that hole…Orestes would become Hamlet.” Orestes is symbolic of the unified cosmology of antiquity, whereas Hamlet, by thinking rather than acting, functions as an ancestor of the pensive and selfreflexive modernist subject. Through the “Orestes would become Hamlet” conceit, Pirandello articulates a moment of crisis. This “Copernican” rupture articulated by Pirandello functions as the origin of the dissolution of Benjamin’s “general,” the consequences of which are fully realized in the type of subjectivity peculiar to fin-desiècle and twentieth-century literary modernism. Pirandello maps a genealogy of modern subjectivity, positing its origin in the sixteenth century, tracing a lineage through Hamlet and the titular Copernicus of Giacomo Leopardi’s dialogue. This Pirandellian lens provides a framework for understanding crisis as a constitutive feature of modernity, and suggests that modernism, as a mode of expression, emerges as a reaction to historical, metaphysical and psychological crises. Pirandello’s anachronistic account of modernist subjectivity is essential to understanding modernist literary form as crisis management.

Insanity, an obsession from Luigi Pirandello to Marco Bellocchio

Marialaura Simeone, University of Siena-Arezzo


The topics of Luigi Pirandello – insanity, fiction, artifice – are encountered the cinema of Marco Bellocchio, contemporary italian director. In his films are frequently psychiatrists and crazy, different planes of reality, the combination between reality and fiction. Then he adapts the Pirandello’s play Enrico IV in 1984 and the novel La balia in 1999. In Enrico IV Bellocchio preserves the pessimism and madness is still a mask to protect yourself. The alienist physician can not resolve the situation. But In La balia Bellocchio has a modern gaze on insanity and he change the plot of the novel. The psychiatry is used to understand the world and to change the rules of bourgeois society.


Panel “Global Pirandello”


Dreaming America: Pirandello’s Just Like That

Lisa Sarti, Graduate Center, City University of New York; Pietro Frassica, Princeton University

Both the letters Pirandello wrote to Marta Abba and the Appendix contained in the edition of Maschere Nude provide evidence of a musical the Sicilian playwright composed between the end of 1929 and the beginning of 1930 during his sojourn in Paris. This document, however, has been missing from Pirandello’s published oeuvre until recently, when it emerged from over seventy years of darkness in a dusty trunk in a small village in Northern Italy, together with other documents, letters, drawings, and pictures. The precious document is preserved in the Fondo Torre Gherson, a fund named after Guido Torre, the enterprising agent Pirandello collaborated with in the last years of his life as a crucial liaison in his attempt to conquer the theaters of France, England, and the United States.

This paper sheds light on the three manuscripts contained in the Fondo Torre Gherson, which attest to Pirandello’s ambition to conquer the American market with a musical, originally written in French and then translated into English as Just Like That, expressly thought for audiences overseas. At stake is not only the finding of a text we all thought lost forever, but also Pirandello’s artistic versatility and his eagerness to measure himself against a new genre, the musical.

This paper will offer an insight in the Sicilian playwright’s Paris years and the intellectual life in 1930s ville lumière. A close analysis of the “Americanized” version of the musical will then provide a clue in regards to authorship. Written by American musicologist Irma Bachrach, the American text reveals substantial differences from the French source in terms of plot. Such structural variations are representatives of Bachrach’s intention to operate on the Pirandellian text to tailor it to American tastes and expectations. Under investigation are issues of race, gender and political correctness, which are crucial to explain how and why alterations, cuts, and additions were made.


Zooming in on Acciaio: Pirandello and German Cinema

Cecelia Novero, Otago University (New Zealand)

Pirandello went to Berlin in 1928 with the hope that here, in the capital of both expressionist cinema and the so called “Strassenfilm”, his scenarios would capture the attention of directors such as Joe May, G.W. Pabst, F.W. Murnau, Robert Wiene, Fritz Lang, and also the Viennese Max Reinhardt.  It is ironic then that, the most well known German film based on an original story by Pirandello was directed by Walter Ruttmann, in Italy: Acciaio (1933). My paper offers a genesis of this film in the attempt to illustrate the multiple ironies behind the project. Hence, through an analysis of Acciaio, which I consider with an eye to the Italian socio-political situation informing cinematic production in these years, I ask two questions: On the one hand, to what extent does Ruttmann’s Neue Sachlichkeit unwittingly serve Pirandello’s ideas of an experimental cinema, which seemed more attuned to the world of shadows of expressionism? On the other hand, what elements of Pirandello’s character-based story indeed disturb the ideological content of the film, as the regime wished to read it? In answering these questions, the paper argues that Acciaio exemplifies the complex relations Pirandello entertained with film, especially German film.


Translating the Stage: Pirandello’s Questa sera si recita a soggetto and the First Productions in Königsberg, Berlin and Paris  (co-authors)

Elisa Segnini, Western University (London, Ontario); Guillaume Bernardi,Glendon College, York University (Toronto, Ontario) 

After a professional crisis, Luigi Pirandello moved to Berlin and began a new phase of his career. His first foray on the German stage was with the masterpiece “Heute abend wird aus dem Stegreif Gespielt” (1930), the last play of the trilogy on metatheatre – the first one being the “Six Characters in Search of an Author”. Pirandello based this work on an earlier short story that problematized the opposition between Sicilian culture and the “modernity” of continental Italy. Writing for the German stage, he faced the challenge of translating a conflict specific to Italian culture for an international audience. This paper investigates how the cultural clashes were represented in the original translations and productions in Germany and France, considering a timeframe from 1929 to 1935. We will first examine the German translation as well as the first two German productions (Königsberg and Berlin,1929). We will then consider the very different solution offered by the French translation and the Parisian production (1935). While a large body of work exists on “Questa sera si recita a soggetto,” scholars have so far focused on Pirandello’s use of metatheatre. There is no detailed study of the German text by Kahn and very little material on the first productions in Königsberg, Berlin and Paris. The paper will shed light on Pirandello’s work as well as on the theatre, both as text and production, as a site for intercultural mediation.


Scripting “il cielo di carta”: Cesare deve morire and the culmination of Pirandello’s legacy

Alessia Palanti, Columbia University


Basing two films, Kaos (1984) and Tu ridi (1998), on Luigi Pirandello’s work, the

debt the Taviani brothers owe him is clear. A textual, and philosophical legacy is evident.

Their latest work, Cesare deve morire (2012) is the culmination of their Pirandellian

pursuits. The film takes place within Rome’s maximum-security prison at Rebibbia, and

casts its inmates as interpreters for Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Outside the English

playwright’s script—and subtly entering the Sicilian’s—a prisoner pronounces a haunting

statement: “Da quando ho conosciuto l’arte questa cella è diventata una prigione.” This

both chilling and striking declaration is emblematic of Pirandello’s “strappo nel cielo di

carta.” While in Pirandello’s case the “strappo” is a reference to the crisis of modern

consciousness—arising from the context of the early 20th century—the Tavianis extend a

commensurate epiphanic moment to the early 21st century. As Pirandello’s allegory

originates on the theatrical stage, the directors transpose it onto the cinematic from within

the penitentiary. A consequence to the convicts’ exposure to art, the prison walls

materialize, dilating the space of the remote world beyond them. The recognition of their

confinement—a meta/physical imprisonment—is one that Pirandello engaged with

throughout his career as an author, and he also experienced it as a relentless existential

conundrum. My paper explores the ways in which Pirandello’s statement: “L’arte libera

le cose,” is deepened by the Tavianis’ film into: l’arte libera le persone. Cesare deve

morire’s metacinematic framework aligns itself with the characteristically pirandellian

metaprose, in the attempt to suture the rift in the art/freedom dialectic.

Pirandello and the Female Subject (MLA Boston, MA, January 2013)

The Pirandello Society of America presents a panel at the Modern Languages Association Conference in Boston on January 5, 2013:

Pirandello and the Female Subject

1.      Valentina Fulginiti,  University of Toronto

“Lost (Women) in Translation. The Rewriting of Female Characters in Pirandello’s Self-Translations.”

2.      Andrea Malaguti,  University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“The Pirandellian Trap: Michelangelo Antonioni’s La signora senza camelie (1952-53)”

3.      Michael Subialka

“The Actress and Her Truth: Pirandello’s Model of Feminine Aesthetic Subjectivity,” Bilkent Univ., Ankara


Presiding: Jana O’Keefe Bazzoni, Baruch College, the City University of New York

Respondent:  Michael Subialka, Bilkent Univ., Ankara


Paper abstracts:

  1. 1.     Lost (Women) in Translation.. The Rewriting of Female Characters in Pirandello’s Self-Translations.
    Valentina Fulginiti, University of Toronto

How do translational changes affect the status of female characters on stage? Does the loss of concreteness typical of most translational processes (Berman 1999: 53; 65) affect the corporeal dimension of their speech? In my paper, I will refer to the language of three plays by Pirandello, Pensaci Giacomino, Liolà, and Il Berretto a sonagli — all composed in dialect, in cooperation with actor Angelo Musco and playwright Nino Martoglio, and later rewritten in Italian.

In all three texts, the traditional Sicilian family ethics is challenged to various extents: while in Liolà and Pensaci Giacomino the natural ethics of birth is opposed to the rigidity of social conventions and legal recognition, in Il berretto a sonagli the impotent rebellion of a woman is defeated by recurring to the slanderous label of madness. However, these plays are not left untouched by the general transformation triggered by self-translation: specific cultural conflicts thus come to provide the ground for a universal philosophical reflection on authenticity, madness, and social convention.

The aim of my presentation is to explore how these translational changes affect and reshape the conventional stage identity of “loose” women.  On the one hand, I will analyze how the loss of iconicity and figurativeness affects the corporeal dimension of female speech. In particular, I will focus on the strategies for rendering proverbs and idioms, and on the treatment of cultural reference (e.g., the different treatment of sterility in the two versions of Il berretto and in the three versions of Liolà). It is my take that the loss of iconicity typical of translation has an attenuating effect over the language of female characters – a feature especially evident in the Italian rewriting of Donna Biatrìci’s most scandalous and challenging lines.

On the other hand, I will analyze how dramatic changes (such as elimination of sequences or merging of scenes) affect the power balance between female and male characters, reshaping the traditional role play of feudal Sicily into a new state, suitable for a nation-wide, bourgeois audience.

2. Captive in the Studio: Pirandello’s Shadow in Michelangelo Antonioni’s La signora senza camelie (1952-53)
Andrea Malaguti, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Antonioni’s second full-length feature film presents a series of references to Pirandello’s work. In setting Clara Manni’s story totally on sites strictly referring to film production (even her house as a married woman looks like a studio), the film represents her gradual awareness of her social subjugation to her image as a starlet not only in her work and in her personal life. Like Pirandello’s characters, Clara Manni is allowed to be the projection of everyone else’s wish, like Signora Ponza in Così è (se vi pare), or desire, like Marta in L’amica delle mogli. However, both these female characters have their feeble chance of empowerment in being able to withdraw from the common stage of social life: “Leave me alone! I want to be alone, alone, alone!” says Marta at the end of the play (whereas their male equivalents, are insightful observers, like Laudisi or Leone Gala, and later become stage masters, like Henry IV and Hinkfuss). On the contrary, Clara’s decision to seize empowerment by becoming a real actress – and studying Pirandello, of all authors – ultimately fails: she goes broke, needs work, and realizes that not only film production, but life itself will never allow her to be anything else than a starlet. Clara therefore signs a contract for a cheap production and resumes a superficial relationship that she scorned before. Antonioni brings Pirandello’s investigation on the porous boundaries between fiction and reality to its most radical conclusions: to the threatening siege of other people’s perceptions a woman has no alternative but surrender, however aware she might be of her own intimate difference and depth of character.


3.      The Actress and Her Truth: Pirandello’s Model of Feminine Aesthetic Subjectivity
Michael Subialka, Bilkent University, Ankara

Pirandello’s work, both theatrical and narrative, hinges on a particular theory of the character and its relation to the world of actual life. As Ann Hallamore Caesar has argued, Pirandello’s characters are the primary unit structuring his production, and it is their vitality that motivates his work. Likewise, as Daniela Bini and Lucienne Kroha have shown, Pirandello’s theatrical production is increasingly dominated by his great muse, Marta Abba, and marked by his conflicted relation with the feminine. I will argue that his interest in Abba reveals an essential aspect of Pirandello’s notion of how the theatrical character connects the fictional world to the actual world: this connection is achieved thanks to performance of the actress. By performing a character’s truth, living it in the present on the stage, she makes it visible and tangible to the spectator. The result is that fictional truth and its power to reshape reality are conveyed in a model of aesthetic subjectivity that is gendered explicitly as feminine.

In this paper, I investigate that concept of feminine aesthetic subjectivity by analyzing Pirandello’s essay on Eleonora Duse. Putting this into dialogue with his famous play, Come tu mi vuoi, and a short story, “Colloquii coi personaggi,” I argue that his model of feminine subjectivity allows us to reconceive the relationship between literary form and philosophical truth, as well as the role of form in the modernist “revolt” against realism.

MLA Modern Language Association PSA Panel – Seattle, WA 2012 – Pirandello and Cinema

Pirandello and Cinema: Adaptations, Reexaminations, and Representations

“Pirandello and the Philosophic Eye of Cinema”

Federico Pacchioni, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs

Pirandello’s work had a lasting influence on cinema, testified not only by the vast number of adaptations of his work, but also, as several scholars have shown (e.g., G. P. Brunetta, M. Gieri), by his indirect influence on certain filmmakers. However, it is also known that his direct involvement with cinema is quite inconsistent and often marked by hesitation and the tendency to hand down the work of screenwriting to others. In order to understand Pirandello’s ambivalent relationship with cinema, one must look at his novel The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio and his theoretical essays on cinema. Studies that have taken a closer look at Pirandello’s texts within their cultural context have pointed to the fact that behind his uneasiness towards cinema are more wide-reaching problems, such as his need to distance himself from the blind and destructive embracement of machines and mechanization that dominated the intellectual life of his time, and his need to express the aesthetic and ethic superiority of theatre over cinema (e.g. S. Costa; S. Michelini).  From the premise that much of the discourse about cinema contained in theThe Notebooks is actually extrinsic to the art of film per se, this paper examines Pirandello’s diverse and conflicting discourses to arrive at a description of his position between different media, and in particular towards cinema. The integration of Pirandello’s essays on film with a discussion of The Notebooks further clarifies the way in which Pirandello expresses his interest for and even his participation in the aesthetic and philosophic experience of filmmaking.

“George Fitzmaurice’s As You Desire Me (1932): Theatrical versus Cinematic Horizons of Expectations and the Case of Greta Garbo’s Elusive Identity”

Claudia Consolati, Univ. of Pennsylvania

The paper examines George Fitzmaurice’s 1932 filmic adaptation of the play As You Desire Me in light of Pirandello’s own view of the relationship between theatre and sound cinema (“Se il film parlante abolirà il teatro,” Corriere Della Sera, 16 June 1929). When Pirandello’s pièce crossed the ocean, it was readapted to meet the horizon of expectations of the American audience as well as the standards of the filmic cultural industry in Hollywood. Fitzmaurice’s picture emphasizes the more melodramatic aspects of the story: the decadent sensuality of the female protagonist, the Unknown Woman; the romantic love story; even the exoticism of certain situations. The greatest difference, however, concerns the ending: the film’s finale leaves little doubt as to the protagonist’s real identity—she is an impostor with whom the male character is now in love—while the play is much more ambiguous and offers no concluding resolution. In this way, the film seems to abolish the central theme of the play, that of the multiplication of identities, failing to raise the question of whether it is at all legitimate to speak about one’s identity (or identities) as a unified and coherent whole.

Yet, this key element, while absent from the plot, is still present in the paratext of the film as the choice of Greta Garbo in the role of the Unknown Woman reveals. In fact, the fate of Pirandello’s protagonist and that of the Swedish actress overlap. Garbo was a cinematic chameleon, her public identity was elusive; she remained a mystery for its critics and admirers. It is through Greta Garbo that the film is still able to address the fundamental issue of the plurality of identities—and of the ultimate lack thereof—that is at the core of Pirandello’s As You Desire Me.

La canzone dell’amore: Adapting Pirandello to Fascist Propaganda”

Paolo Campolonghi, New York University

Directed in 1930 by Gennaro Righelli, La canzone dell’amore was the first Italian sound-movie, bringing onto the screen a subject adapted from Pirandello’s 1905 short story, interestingly titled In Silenzio (pub. 1922). My paper explores the discrepancies between Pirandello’s original story and its cinematic rendition as a way to shed light on a time of crucial transition in Italy’s political and cultural life. On the one hand, Pirandello’s critical judgment of the filmic representation of his story resonates with his known positions on the epistemology of cinema as an art. On the other, by distancing himself from the altered meaning conveyed by the screenplay, Pirandello rejected the “normalization” of the most provocative instances that the short story presented and that the movie, instead, “silenced.”

While expressing his dissatisfaction in terms of the artist’s right to intellectual independence and transgression, Pirandello seemed unaware that the modifications he criticized were in the service of Fascist propaganda, which was increasingly interested in cinema as an essential medium for its message. From this perspective, the substitution of the morally daring figure of the single-father, the protagonist of Pirandello’s story, with the young woman that in the movie assumes the role of the ‘natural mother’ of future generations is emblematic of the ideal of moral regeneration on which Fascism founded both its oxymoronic form of “conservative revolution’ and its imperialist design.

“Screening Decadence: Vittorio De Sica’s Adriana Takes a Trip”

Lisa Sarti, The City University of New York

My paper interrogates the phenomenon of literature on screen from both a literary and filmic perspective, focusing on the cinematic rendition of Pirandello’s short story Il viaggio. Following Dudley Andrew’s assessment that although adaptation cannot exist without its original source, it must be respected as an original creation, I analyze the multi-layered interaction of literary and cinematic texts. I examine Vittorio de Sica’s Il viaggio (Adriana Takes a Trip), 1972, in relation with the literary work he relies on, giving prominence to the different treatment of the theme of decadence, a subject that was very popular in fin-de-siècle European literature.

The filmic reading transforms the Pirandellian form of storytelling, which is turned into the director’s personal interpretation and laden with melodramatic clichés. Although Venice, decadent city par excellence, is the final destination of a long journey along the peninsula, besides serving as the backdrop of the protagonist’s death both in the narrative and the film, the urban space acquires a distinctive function in the two works. Whereas Pirandello uses Venice as the scenery for Adriana’s decision to kill herself, making the city the symbol of moral degeneracy and of the demise of Adriana’s former uncorrupted Sicilian life, De Sica overshadows the decay of traditional values. Adriana’s cinematic end is tinged with a Melodramatic nuance that transforms the narrative’s suicide into a highly emotional, albeit scarcely credible, heart attack striking Adriana in the happiest moment of her life. Furthermore, the languid melancholy of the score, wed to skillful camera movements, excessively highlights the fervor of the protagonists’ feelings. Thus, the film eclipses the traditional themes of decadence, such as exoticism and sexual anti-conformism, which are central to the development of the narrative plot.

The Pirandello Society of America Sessions at the MLA in Los Angeles – January 2011

Pirandello Society Panels

at the MLA in Los Angeles

(6-9 January 2011)

1. Crossing Genres in Word and Image: Grotesque Narratives in Pirandello and His Contemporaries.

Presiding:  Stefano Giannini – Syracuse University

Thursday, 06 January – 5:15-6:30 p.m., 306A, LA Convention Center

“The Paradigms of Paradox and Sarcasm in the Pirandellian Grotesque”

Lisa Sarti – Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

“Four Authors in Search of a Character. C. K. Scott Moncrieff’s satire between Pirandello and Swift”

Stefano Giannini – Syracuse University

“‘Di carne, oh!’: Grotesque Fantasies and the Artistic Ideal in D’Annunzio’s Il piacere and Pirandello’s Diana e la Tuda

Alani Hicks-Bartlett – Univ. of California, Berkeley

“De-centered Lives, Interrupted Stories: Pirandello’s Narrative Structures as Grotesque, Arabesque, and Caprice”

Michael Subialka, Univ. of Chicago

MLA Los Angeles Convention 2011

2. Masks, Marionettes, Puppets in Modern Italian Culture

Presiding:  Daniela Bini – U. of Texas, Austin

Saturday, 08 January – 12:00 noon-1:15 p.m., 306A, LA Convention Center

“Clothes (Don’t) Make the (Wo)Man: Costume as Mask and Identity in Enrico IV and Nostra Dea”

Stefano Boselli – Gettysburg College

“Puppets and Marionettes on the Italian Screen: A Taxonomy of Genealogies”

Federico Pacchioni –  Indiana Univ

“Pulcinella in Paris”

Daniela Bini – U. of Texas, Austin

Los Angeles - Hollywood

Pirandello Society Panels at the MLA in Philadelphia 2006

MLA 2006–Philadelphia, PA.

Friday, 29 December

465. Identity and Self-Representation in Pirandello

1:45–3:00 p.m., Washington B, Loews

Program arranged by the Pirandello Society of America

Presiding: Rosemarie Lavalva, Binghamton Univ., State Univ. of New York

1. “Self-Identification and Self-Communication: Pirandello’s Central Issue,” Umberto C. Mariani, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

2. “‘Io mi chiamo Mattia Pascal’: Il fu Mattia Pascal and the Authenticity of Identity,” Andrew Martino, Southern New Hampshire Univ.

3. “Machinic Splittings and Other Bergsonian Themes in The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator,” Luca Barattoni, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

4. “Eyes Wide Shut: The Impaired Eyesight of Pirandello’s Characters,” Rosemarie Lavalva

Saturday, 30 December

751. Pirandello: Translation and Interpretation

1:45–3:00 p.m., Commonwealth Hall B, Loews

Program arranged by the Pirandello Society of America

Presiding: Jana O’Keefe Bazzoni, Baruch Coll., City Univ. of New York

1. “Pasolini’s Hidden Pirandello,” Daniela Bini, Univ. of Texas, Austin

2. “How a ‘Distraction’ Unmasks a ‘Modus Scrivendi et Ridendi’: A Comparative Study of the ‘Feeling of the Opposite’ and Grotesque,” Maria Luisa Graziano, Saint Peter’s Coll.

Selected Abstracts:

Panel 1:  Friday, 29 December 1:45–3:00 p.m., Washington B, Loews

Identity and Self-Representation in Pirandello

“Self-Identification and Self-Communication: Pirandello’s Central Issue”

The most important them in Pirandello’s major works–e.g. Right You Are, Six Characters, Henry IV, Mattia Pascal, One, No One, One Hundred Thousand, to name only a few — is the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of human communication.

The most difficult of any attempt at human communication is the communication of oneself. . . . Consequently the problem of self-identification and self-representation is central to Pirandello’s major works: it involves both the object and the means and modes of human communication. . . .[T]he characters we will call essentially “Pirandellian.” modern in their struggle with identity and communication as opposed to others in their worlds who recognize no such problems) become very energetic in self-identification and self-presentation, in the attempt to forestall other people’s misrepresentation of them. . . .Not that their task becomes any easier, however, as they become directly invovled in their self-identification and representation.  To communication oneself is still a weary struggle, and the end result is not always positive (see the six characters or Mattia Pascal).  There is often a noticeable difference between the destiny of the “Pirandellian” characters and of those contemporaries who experience no such dilemmas.  The last of Pirandello’s heroes gives up; after a decent struggle, he prefers to no longer have an individual self to communicate; he prefers to lose himself in the indistinguishability of the life of nature and put an end to his efforts, give up the attempt to be one and accept the anonimity and formlessness of non-one-ness, that is actually non-identity, incommunicability.

Umberto Mariani

“‘Io mi chiamo Mattia Pascal’: Pirandello’s Quest for Authenticity”

What we know about ourselves may very well be just the combination of how others perceive us in various social settings.  The identity of any given individual, then, may constitute a complete and utter fabrication often grounded in parody—a simulacrum if you will.  Luigi Pirandello’s Il fu Mattia Pascal takes the notion of one man’s identity and scatters it over the murky terrain of an untimely, yet astonishingly convenient death.  Pirandello’s novel shows us that not only can we not go home again, but it may be impossible to completely flee our own identities and start over.  Taking Freud’s essay “The Uncanny” as my point of departure, this paper argues that our identity ultimately controls our being in ways rendered by Pirandello comically tragic, and that our lives can be read as inherently textual.  This Textuality is demonstrated through Mattia Pascal’s attempts to make a new life for himself outside the seemingly constraining provinces.  What I will attempt to ultimately argue is that through our readings of Il fu Mattia Pascal we take on a certain textuality ourselves.  That is, we read Mattia Pascal and absorb him, therefore accommodating a part of his personality into ours.  What emerges is a spectral society where no one is sure of whom they really are—just what they have been told they ought to be.  Il fu Mattia Pascal deconstructs the notion of identity, both personally and collectively, by challenging the self-representation of ourselves in the social world.  In the end it may be that we are ourselves in name only.

“Martino, Andrew” <>

“Eyes Wide Shut:  The impaired Eyesight of Pirandello’s Characters”

The metaphor of the three eyes recurs frequently in medieval texts. Boethius, Hugh of St.Victor, Bonaventure, among others, make multiple references to the eye of the senses, the eye of the mind, and the eye of the heart, ostensibly linking them to the division of the soul into its empirical, rational, and spiritual faculties.  Different realms are accessible to the three eyes and the reality status of what is seen through each eye differs from realm to realm.  We can extend the metaphor and consider the impact all our senses have not just as means to acquire knowledge, but, also, as ways in which we communicate and influence each other.  Various external images come to form our individual identity and we are supposed to consider our reputation — i.e. the opinions others have of us — as objective reality.  Modernity has revisited these concepts and Pirandello has literally turned them over with the argument that all knowledge is impaired, that neither science, nor faith, nor imagination, not even one’s own memory or dreams are ever certain and infallible.   The senses deceive us, they contradict established beliefs and, therefore, damage the very identity they claim to serve;  physical nature and individual consciousness enter into conflict with each other and must be ultimately rejected.  These are the major points of Pirandello’s poetics, discussed in his own theoretical essays and well known to critics.  In this paper, I would like to show how they transfer to the narrative, calling attention to a specific imagery, that of the eyes and of sight.  No one can trust what he sees, furthermore, no one can trust how he sees, and Pirandello seems to look at the famous and long-standing equivalence: to see is to love is to understand as a guide for his pitiless and systematic demolition of all that was once considered stable if not actually sacred.  In his works, few are the  characters who see well and distinguish with clarity objects and people around them (almost unfailingly, they are sick, mad, fool, or dying).  We often encounter, instead, the blind, the myopic, the one-eyed, the glass-eyed, the cross-eyed, the man who looks and does not see, and the one who does not want to look.  For most of them, seeing and being seen by others are burdens from which there is no possible escape

“Rosemarie LaValva” <>

“Machinic Splittings and Other Bergsonian Themes in The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator,”

Browsing the secondary literature on Luigi Pirandello, one cannot but acknowledge the enormous influence which, even today, the characterization of Pirandello’s thought made by Adriano Tilgher around the concepts of “vita” and “forma” still has on the student or scholar who wants to take stock of the many critical interpretations that have tried to shed light on the significance of the Sicilian writer. The name we have to refer to is the name of Henry Bergson. To a different extent, we can say that the Pirandello-Bergson relationship underwent the same problems of ambiguity of the Pirandello-Tilgher one, i.e. a general acceptance and a recognized tie between some of their ideas, but without a thorough, close examination of the Bergsonian theories really able to illuminate some aspects of Pirandello’s philosophy.“The Cinematographical Mechanism of Thought and the Mechanistic Illusion” as well as other Bergsonian texts can in fact illustrate many works by the Sicilian writer, in particular the “Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinema Operator”. The entire novel is projected towards the final moment of intuition, of actualization versus the virtuality of our human condition.

“Luca Barattoni” <>

Panel 2:  Saturday, 30 December 1:45–3:00 p.m., Commonwealth Hall B, Loews

Pirandello: Translation and Interpretation

“Pasolini’s Hidden Pirandello”

A short episode in an unsuccessful film (Capriccio all’italiana 1968), conceived between Oedipus Rex and Teorema, intellectually dense and dramatic films, Che cosa sono le nuvole? (what are clouds), is a small jewel that in only twenty-two minutes incorporates a variety of genres and discourses that Pasolini’s uses in order to satisfy a threefold purpose:  the abolition of the hierarchy between high and low art, the inadequacy of words, that is, of the written text with the consequent choice of the image, that is cinema, over literature, and finally the self-referentiality of the work of art. Such discourses, which are in close relationship to one another, are masterly intertwined and the intertextuality that Pasolini uses in this operation is at times openly declared and others, hidden. The self-referential discourse, for example, is accompanied by a clear citation (the painting “Las Meninas” by Velazquez), just as clear is the blending of high and low art (the movie is about a performance of Shakespeare’s Othello in a popular puppet theater). The discourse  of the inadequacy of verbal language, instead, is developed with the hidden support of Pirandello’s narrative. It is on this third discourse that I will concentrate my brief presentation.

Daniela Bini daniela bini <>

“How a ‘Distraction’ Unmasks a ‘Modus Scrivendi et Ridendi’: A Comparative Study of the ‘Feeling of the Opposite’ and Grotesque”

This study will consider as exemplary a short story of Pirandello called “ Distrazione.”   There is a specific characteristic in Pirandello’s grotesque approach to irony, that cannot be found easily in other artistic works and is not possible to transcribe without the problematic implication of an unusual nature to major literary or philosophical theories that study the transferal topoi of the conceptual contrary in irony.

What is the challenge at the heart of Pirandello’s artistic humor? Why does it escape explanation through the commonly successful tools for theoretical interpretation of irony and humor in literature?  If it is possible to demonstrate in a critical reading that general literary theories in humor and art are in conflict with Pirandello’s unique interpretation, what are the implications? Through a comparative analysis of other Italian writers in Pirandello’s time, in addition to a comparative reading of his exemplary writings of a humoristic nature, this study aims at bringing to the surface the manner, the style, the absurdity and the technical beauty of  Pirandello’s irony, highlighting the striking grotesqueness, the imponderable details. This is a study which discusses the unresolved artistic conflicts between the tragic heroic afflatus present in the social and political dynamics of his time, and the respective social antiestablishment documented and conceptualized in the literature of his time.

Maria Luisa Graziano  “Graziano, Maria”