Call for Papers – Pirandellian Transactions: Text, Context, Cultural Negotiation 2019 MLA Convention, Chicago

Call for Papers:

Pirandellian Transactions: Text, Context, Cultural Negotiation

2019 MLA Convention, Chicago

This guaranteed panel will consider how relationships of transaction illuminate our understanding of Pirandello’s work as well as that of his contemporaries and those influenced by or in dialogue with him.

We seek proposals that consider Pirandello’s writing in relation to its audiences, its historical circumstances, and the myriad relationships that constitute the cultural negotiations bridging text and context. We also encourage proposals that use Pirandellian themes to examine such transactional relationships in other writers, or proposals that examine writers who were influenced by or responding to Pirandello as a part of their own textual transactions.

We take our notion of transaction from the MLA Presidential Theme, which describes it thus:

Textual transactions are the mutually constitutive engagements of human beings, texts, and their contexts. Transactions are more than mere interactions, in which separate entities act on one another without being changed at any essential level. In transactions, all elements are part of an organic whole and are transformed by their encounters with one another.

With this notion in mind, we are interested in topics such as (but not limited to) the following:

  • Translation, self-translation, cultural translation in Pirandello and/or Pirandellian approaches to translation
  • Political context and textual composition as a transaction in Pirandello and his contemporaries
  • Cultural negotiation in Pirandello and/or Pirandellian approaches to cultural negotiation
  • Performance, staging, and live acting as modes of transaction for Pirandello and/or Pirandellian approaches to performance, staging, acting, etc.
  • Author, character, actor/actress, audience, and cultural context as interrelated elements of Pirandellian transactions
  • Readings and misreadings of and by Pirandello
  • Examinations of Pirandellian themes (identity, performance, multiplicity, humor, etc.) and their role in text-context transactions

Abstracts of ~300 words and short bios should be sent to Jana O’Keefe Bazzoni ( and Michael Subialka ( by March 16, 2018. Any questions can be directed to the same addresses.

This is a guaranteed panel for the 2019 MLA Convention in Chicago (January 3-6, 2019).

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.

Call for Papers – Modern Language Association Convention Chicago, 9-12 January 2014

The Pirandello Society of America invites papers for the Modern Language Association Convention in Chicago, 9-12 January 2014, on the following topics.

Topic 1
Global Pirandello
Pirandello in and of the world: topics such as cosmopolitanism and global geographies, including legacies, influences, audiences, adaptations. Interdisciplinary/comparative approaches encouraged.

Topic 2
Modern Consciousness: Pirandellian Obsessions
Topics including psychology, spirituality, sexuality and other aspects of modern consciousness in Pirandello and contemporaries; interdisciplinary/comparative approaches encouraged.

By March 15, 2013, please email abstracts of 250 words and a brief biography to Jana O’Keefe Bazzoni,

Modern Language Association – Chicago 2007 – Pirandello’s L’Umorismo (On Humor, 1908): 100th Anniversary Panels

MLA 2007  Chicago, IL. Pirandello’s L’Umorismo (On Humor, 1908): 100th Anniversary Panels

I. Pirandello’s On Humor (L’Umorismo), 1908: Centennial Program: Instances

Thursday, 27 December
3:30-4:45 p.m., Parlor G, Sheraton Chicago Hotels and Towers

Presider:   John Louis DiGaetani, Hofstra Univ.

1.         “Humor in the Passive, the Active, and the Insane,”   Silvia Abbiati, Ithaca College

2.         “How Form and Content Contain Laughter,” Florin Berindeanu, Case Western Reserve Univ.

3.         “I am…or am I in the Eyes of the Beholder?”Carmela Scala, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

4.         “On Humor Strategies in It Is So (If You Think So), Lidia Ciccone, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

5.         “Carlo Gozzi and Pirandello: the Tradition Continues,”  John Di Gaetani, Hofstra Univ.

II. Pirandello’s On Humor (L’Umorismo), 1908: Centennial Program:  Echoes

Saturday, 29 December
3:30-4:45 p.m., Parlor F, Sheraton Chicago Hotels and Towers

Presider:  John Welle, Univ. of Notre Dame

1.        “Pirandello’s Consciousness of Insecurity,” James Nikopoulos, Graduate Center, City Univ of New York

2.        “L’umorismo and female characters: between theory and fiction,”  Paola Casella  Univ. of  Zürich.

3.        “Pirandello’s ‘Umorismo’ and the Sternian Line in Italian Fiction” John Welle, Univ. of Notre Dame

Respondent:  Jana O’Keefe Bazzoni

For further information, contact:  John Di Gaetani,

I.  Pirandello’s On Humor (L’Umorismo), 1908: Centennial Program: Instances

“Humor in the Passive, the Active, and the Insane”  Silvia Abbiati, Ithaca College

What did Pirandello intend by the use of the term umorismo? In what way was it different from the comic, the ironic, and the satiric? And how did his characters move within the forms that reality gave to them? This paper explores Pirandello’s concept of umorismo in his essay devoted to the topic and in relationship with three of his works: The Late Mattia Pascal, “The License”, and Henry IV. The choice of these three works is deliberate. First, they show how Pirandello’s umorismo is at the foundation of the creative process in most of his works, regardless of genre. Secondly, the protagonists of these works each represent the different reactions Pirandello’s characters have to the discovery of the contrast between the mask and the face, the form and the being. Characters such as Mattia Pascal, disappointed by an experience with a new mask or incapable of rebelling against the forms that imprison them, react passively and with resignation. Others, like Chiàrchiaro in “The License”, react actively and ironically to the forms imposed on them, and by playing their new role they profit from the situation. The protagonist in Henry IV, in turn, represents a third type of Pirandellian character, one that is unable to resign himself to his fate or react actively, and who deliberately closes himself off in the solitude of madness.

“How Form and Content Contain Laughter”  Florin Berindeanu, Case Western Reserve University

My paper intends to focus on the relation between form and content as  discussed by Pirandello in his ‘L’Umorismo’.  Pirandello uses the two aspects of the work of art not only in the Aristotelian sense of the term but also as a reaction to Positivism in general and H.Taine in particular. Yet Pirandello’s essay contains also an intriguing debate with B.Croce on the aesthetic sources of humorism and on this polemic my paper will then insist.

While Pirandello leans on a rather Tainian description of human disponibility towards humor, Croce denies all that and shifts his criticism on the lack of philosophical and aesthetic perspective that results from Pirandello’s essay. It is indeed ultimately a battle between form and content in Pirandello’s essay: on the one hand his insistence on a formal rhetoric of how humorism comes across which represents the writer, on the other hand, Croce’s irritation at seeing the axiological aspect of the aesthetic expression left out.

““I am…or am I in the Eyes of the Beholder?” Carmela Scala, Graduate Center, City Univ. of  NY

In his seminal essay On Humor, Pirandello writes: “what we know about ourselves is but a part, perhaps, a very small part of what we really are… The various tendencies which mark a personality lead us to think seriously that the individual soul is not one”.  Indeed, as he would say , we wear   ‘masks’ both on the outside and the inside, and these masks are constantly in opposition with each other ,creating an endless battle between what we  may think we are,  what we appear to others and what we think they  think we are. Furthermore, the realization that we are a different ‘self’ for each person we meet in our life leads us to a path of anguish where even the simplest  illusionary joy of knowing ‘who we are’ is negated to us and the only way out of the pain is, perhaps, madness. This, at least, seems to be the destiny of the “pirandellian hero”, epitomized in Angelo Moscarda, who attempts the arduous but unfruitful enterprise of searching for ‘himself’ within himself and outside. This essay   intends to  argues that before reaching this pessimistic and nihilist conclusion, Pirandello took a detour attempting  to save the ‘unity of the self’. His detour brings him to theater, and I will focus specifically on three of his major works “It Is So! (If You Think So)”, “Six Characters in Search of an Author” and “Henry  IV”, where by acting out the drama of the contradictoriness between the inner worlds and the outer world he attempts  to overcome it, but this tentative fails. Hence, he returns to his early artistic  roots, that is prose, and finally completes his last novel “One No One and One Hundred Thousand”, which represents the climax of his pessimism  and  ideology  “on humour”” and the perfect conclusion for an intellectual voyage that the author had started with his first novel, “The Late Mattia Pascal”, in 1904.

“On Humor Strategies in It Is So (If You Think So)” Lidia Ciccone, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

In Pirandello, the moment of theoretical reflection is indistinguishable from his literary production. Moving from this assumption, my paper will highlight the link between the essay On Humor (1908) with the theatrical work It is so! (If you think so). The complex relationship between the two texts goes beyond   the merely poetic translation of a theoretical elaboration, and the present paper has the precise goal to investigate and elaborate that relationship. My goal is to emphasize how the theoretical strategies expressed in Pirandello’s essay On Humor find representation and explication in the play.  Both Pirandello’s theoretical reflection and creative work are detached from Naturalism, projecting themselves towards a moving and complex form characterized by disorder, ambivalence, uncertainty and the contradictions of contemporary humankind. An essential idea in the essay On Humor is what Pirandello defines as “the feeling of the opposite.” Pirandello claims that the “perception of the opposite” is characteristic of the comic, but the humorist needs to go beyond that perception into the feeling of the opposite. This shift allows us the understanding of the multifaceted, contradictory aspects of reality, as we watch it from different perspectives, which are in turn logically acceptable. In multiform and varied reality, comic and tragic are inseparable “as the shadow from the body”.  Through the analysis of the “feeling of the opposite”, my aim is to analyze Pirandello’s typical dichotomies of being and appearance, truth and pretence, identity and mask, sanity and madness. It is the appreciation of these dichotomies that allows us to accept the contradictions of reality, to see reality itself from different perspectives. Pirandello’s characters, of which Laudisi is the emblematic example, become “naked masks,” bitterly and ironically aware of the absurdity of life, of their alienation from their own authentic self. This detachment, this alienation that is reflexive and ironic, bitter and conscious at the same time, is the clear expression of humor.

“Carlo Gozzi and Pirandello: the Tradition Continues”  John Di Gaetani, Hofstra Univ.

This paper will discuss how Carlo Gozzi’s Venetian theater of the l8th century influenced Luigi Pirandello’s theater of the 20th century.     Gozzi’s plays like The Love of Three Oranges, Turandot, and The Snake Lady attempted to revive commedia dell’arte in Venice.     Gozzi’s ten fiabe plays created a popular sensation in Venice at the time and ultimately drove Carlo Goldoni out of town—he moved to Paris and wrote plays there.    Gozzi’s unique fairy-tale plays did not just influence opera composers like Mozart, Wagner, and Puccini.     Gozzi’s plays also influenced Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author in several ways.   First, both playwrights use the theme of improvisation as central to their art forms.   Also, both playwrights use the stock characters from commedia dell’arte in several new ways—the Father in Six Characters as a Pantalone figure, the Step-Daughter as a Servietta figure.   Both playwrights also use fantasy in different ways to create new forms of anti-realistic revolutionary theater for their respective periods.  Both playwrights were attacking realism and trying to create an anti-realistic fantasy theater.

II.  Pirandello’s On Humor (L’Umorismo), 1908: Centennial Program: Echoes

“Pirandello’s Consciousness of Insecurity”  James Nikopoulos, Graduate Center, City Univ of NY

Pirandello’s short story, The Shrine is oftentimes overlooked as a predecessor to Enrico IV. It is the tale of a God-fearing bricklayer named Spatolino who loses his faith in divine justice, and to make up for the loss of God in his life, props himself up as Christ in a shrine he recently built. Like Enrico IV, it is the story of a man who falls into madness as well as the story of a man who perhaps has awoken from this madness, though still clinging to it.  This paper examines Pirandello’s notion of L’Umorismo in relation to Enrico’s and Spatolino’s own versions of a sadness underlying the comic. It examines the idea of umorismo as a consciousness of insecurity, whereby the act of overcompensation, i.e. the charade of Enrico, the old-woman’s overdone make-up from the essay itself, becomes evidence of a character’s recognition of his / her own insecurity. Spatolino’s loss of belief in God, and Enrico’s insecurity over his own sanity and unsure situation have led to a profound unsettling in each. They each choose to mask this insecurity, Spatolino by propping himself up as the god he has lost faith in, and Enrico as the character of an Emperor he believed he once was. If the comic is the view of the mask, then what Pirandello calls umorismo is the knowledge that this mask is the form taken in order to compensate for a deep insecurity. It is this consciousness of insecurity, which aligns L’Umorismo with 20th Century characters like J. Alfred Prufrock and Modernism as a whole.

L’umorismo and female characters: between theory and fiction.”  Paola Casella  Univ. of Zürich.

The most famous page of Pirandello’s essay L’umorismo [On Humor] is without doubt the one about the old lady wearing heavy make-up. Pirandello introduces this character in the second edition of his essay (1920), in order to clarify the per se cryptic definition of the sentimento del contrario [feeling of the opposite]. Which thematic elements and textual strategies make this female portrait so significant to the concept of umorismo elaborated by Pirandello? Based on these deliberations, it will be possible to widen our perspective on the gallery of female characters portrayed by Pirandello according to specific humoristic intentions, as well as to establish their genealogy: from signora Pomponica in the novel L’esclusa (1893), to the robust bespectacled cousin in the tale Piuma (1916), to the all dressed-up lady of the play Diana e la Tuda (1928). It will thus become clear that for Pirandello portrait-making was a favorite application of his bifocal view, compassionate and detached at the same time, typical for his ideas on umorismo. In parallel, the progressive changes in Pirandello’s way of portraying female characters will be thoroughly examined, thereby also highlighting a few particular periods in the writer’s forty-year-long activity. Finally, the diachronic analysis of female portraits both preceding and following the publication of L’umorismo will allow to define the complex interaction between Pirandello’s fiction and his major theoretical essay, revealing its double nature as literary balance and program. For these reasons, one hundred years after his first edition, L’umorismo continues to offer privileged access to the whole of Pirandello’s work.

“Pirandello’s ‘Umorismo’ and the Sternian Line in Italian Fiction” John Welle, Univ. of Notre Dame

In recent decades scholars have emphasized the potency of a Sternian line of humor in Italian fiction stemming from the influence of Lawrence Sterne’s The Life and Adventures of Tristram Shandy and his Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy. Beginning with Ugo Foscolo’s translations of Sterne and carried forward by writers of the nineteenth century such as Carlo Collodi, this type of comic meta-narrative was much appreciated by Pirandello. In his own novels, including Il fu Mattia Pascal and Uno, nessuno e centomila, Pirandello makes explicit references to the British humourist. In Pirandello’s essay on humour, Lawrence Sterne plays a central role. My paper will explore Sternian elements in Pirandello’s works as well as in some contemporary popular writers most likely known by the Sicilian author.