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.
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 email@example.com
“‘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” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
“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” <email@example.com>
“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” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 <email@example.com>
“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” firstname.lastname@example.org