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.