Luigi Pirandello

Luigi Pirandello

date of birth : 28/06/1867 | date of death : 10/12/1936
Born on 28 June 1867,Agrigento, Sicily, Italy, Dramatist, Novelist, Playwright, Short story, Writer, Combining relativistic thinking with a specific Pirandellian brand of humor, he probed the conflict between essence and appearance.

Birth, Birthplace, Time of birth:

Pirandello was born on June 28, 1867, in Girgenti (now Agrigento), Sicily, the son of a prosperous sulfur mine owner.

Father's name: Stefano
Mother's name: Caterina Ricci Gramitto
Brother: -
Sister: -
Spouse: Antonietta Portulano (m. 1894–1936)
Children: Fausto Pirandello, Stefano Pirandello Jr., Lietta Pirandello

Personal Information:

Race or Ethnicity: White

Life events:

The works of the Italian playwright, novelist, and critic Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) generally portray Italian middle-class society. Combining relativistic thinking with a specific Pirandellian brand of humor, he probed the conflict between essence and appearance. With Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Luigi Pirandello revolutionized modern drama in all its aspects, from staging to the form of the play. His own specific contribution to the modern theater should be seen in the fact that he imposed upon the art form of theater itself the principles of analytic decomposition which Ibsen was still content to apply to human psychology.

Early Life

Pirandello was born on June 28, 1867, in Girgenti (now Agrigento), Sicily, the son of a prosperous sulfur mine owner. He received his first schooling in Girgenti, and his formative years were spent at the universities of Palermo, Rome, and Bonn, where he obtained his doctorate in 1891 with a thesis on his native dialect. Upon his return to Italy he entered literary life and wrote his first novel in an artists' colony on Monte Cavo near Rome. In 1894 Pirandello married the daughter of a business associate of his father's, and the couple moved to Rome, where their three children were born. After some years Pirandello accepted a position as professor of Italian at Rome's R. Istituto di Magistero Femminile and in 1908 obtained the chair of Italian language and stylistics at the same institution.Through a flooding of his father's mine in 1903, Pirandello lost his patrimony as well as his wife's substantial dowry, which had been invested in his father's business. Upon learning of the disaster, his wife suffered a shock and developed a paranoid condition which progressively worsened. She remained with the family, but as the scenes of jealousy became more trying, she was admitted to a nursing home in 1919 and remained there until her death in 1959. There is no doubt that Pirandello's peculiar approach to the problems of essence and appearance was conditioned by this firsthand experience: he once said that a madwoman had led his hand for 15 long years.

International Fame

Throughout this time Pirandello continued his writing, scarcely noted by the rank and file of Italy's critics, and only the clamorous success of Seipersonaggi in cercad' autore (1921; Six Characters in Search of an Author) brought him national recognition and international fame.His dramatic production (some 43 plays in all) is thus an illustration of his relativistic and pessimistic tenets and philosophical beliefs. As he conceived of his probe into these aspects mainly as a process of unmasking, he published his collected plays under the title Maschere nude (Naked Masks).Seipersonaggi in cercad'autore (1921), the first play of a trilogy, is an inquiry into the esthetic problems involved in translating the "ideal reality" of the six characters into the casual reality of the stage, represented by the actors and its transitory contingencies of time. The action is continually interrupted by comments paralleling it, the characters themselves are drawn as types, and the stage directions even recommend that they wear masks. Their story is only incidental to the more important aspect of the play, the clash and exchange between the two worlds of art and life.In the second play, Ciascuno a suomodo (1924; Each in His Own Way), this analytical preoccupation comes out even more clearly in that the dialectical approach is carried to the point where action and ensuing reflection on it are already sharply defined in the outer form of the play: after each of the two acts there follow intermezzi corali, in which the preceding action is discussed. In 1924, at a critical time for the regime following the Matteotti murder in June, Pirandello joined the Fascist party, and in September of the same year he founded, with state support, the Teatrod' Arte di Roma, of which he became director. From this time dates his friendship with Marta Abba, the leading actress of the troupe and his second muse. Mainly staging plays of Pirandello, the troupe went on several foreign tours, to England, France, and Germany (1925), to Vienna, Prague, and Budapest (1926), and to South America (1928). This venture proved too costly in the end, and the Teatrod' Arte was dissolved in 1928. Beginning with this year Pirandello took up frequent and extensive residences abroad, especially in Paris and Berlin.

Later Years

In 1929 Pirandello was elected a member of the newly founded Accademiad' Italia, and in 1934 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He was a tall man with a pointed beard and piercing eyes. Pirandello died on Dec. 10, 1936, in his Roman apartment, which subsequently was declared a national monument and houses the Centro di Studi Pirandelliani. Analytical in nature and for the most part lacking in action, Pirandello's plays are dialectical disquisitions on essence and appearance, illusion and reality, the problem of personal identity, the impossibility of objective truth and of communication.


University: University of Rome (attended 1887-88)
University: PhD Philology, University of Bonn (1891)

Occupation and Career:

Luigi Pirandello was dramatist, novelist, playwright and short story writer. After an extensive education, he began in the 1890s to write poetry and short stories, many of which reflect his interest in Sicilian folklore. In 1897 he became professor of Italian literature at the Normal College for Women in Rome. Before achieving fame Pirandello had many difficult years. Lack of public recognition, the failure of his father's mining business, and the 14-year-long insanity of his wife may account in part for the pessimism of his work. Pirandello wrote seven novels, among them Ilfu Mattia Pascal (1904, tr. The Late Mattia Pascal, 1923) and I vecchi e igiovani (1913, tr. The Young and the Old, 1928), as well as nearly 300 short stories. His fame rests primarily, however, on his intellectual and grotesquely humorous plays. He began writing for the theater during World War I and from that time until his death produced more than 40 dramas. By 1924 his plays were being performed in most of the great cities of the world. The best known include Così è, se vi pare (1917, tr. Right You Are If You Think You Are, 1922), Ilpiaceredell'onestà (1917, tr. The Pleasure of Honesty, 1923), Seipersonaggi in cercad'autore (1921, tr. Six Characters in Search of an Author, 1922), Enrico IV (1922, tr. Henry IV, 1922), and Come tu mi vuoi (1930, tr. As You Desire Me, 1931). The grim humor of his plays flows from their central theme-the shattering search to distinguish between reality and illusion. Reality he saw as an intangible and what is taken for reality as a series of illusions. Since truth was not ascertainable, man was condemned to live in moral and cultural confusion, or even anarchy. These alienated beliefs may partly explain Pirandello's acceptance of Mussolini as a man of order. Pirandello's works are influential models for later existential drama.

Awards /Honors:

Nobel Prize in Literature, Obie Award for Best Production (play)


  • Mal giocondo (1889, poetry)
  • Pasqua di Gea (1891, poetry)
  • Amorisenza amore (1894, short stories)
  • L'Esclusa (1901, novel)
  • Ilturno (1902, novel)
  • Beffedellamorte e della vita (1902–03, short stories)
  • Ilfu Mattia Pascal (1904, novel)
  • L'Umorismo (1908, essay)
  • I vecchi e igiovani (1913, novel)
  • La trappola (1915, short stories)
  • Quaderni di SerafinoGubbio, Operatore (1915, novel)
  • E domani, luned... (1917, short stories)
  • Uno, nessuno e centomila (1925–26, novel)

Wrote plays:

  • L'Epilogo (1898)
  • Così è (se vi pare) (1917)
  • Seipersonaggi in cercad'autore (1921)
  • Enrico IV (1922)
  • Ciascuno a suomodo (1924)
  • The Man With the Flower in His Mouth (1930, television play)

Death, place of death, Time of death, place of burial:

Pirandello died alone in his home at Via Bosio, Rome on 10 December 1936 and was buried in Pirandello Birthplace, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy.

Quotes and Memoirs:

“Each of us, face to face with other men, is clothed with some sort of dignity, but we know only too well all the unspeakable things that go on in the heart.”
“Inevitably we construct ourselves. Let me explain. I enter this house and immediately I become what I have to become, what I can become: I construct myself. That is, I present myself to you in a form suitable to the relationship I wish to achieve with you. And, of course, you do the same with me.”
“Life is full of strange absurdities, which, strangely enough, do not even need to appear plausible, since they are true.”
“Whatever is a reality today, whatever you touch and believe in and that seems real for you today, is going to be, like the reality of yesterday, an illusion tomorrow.”
“For man never reasons so much and becomes so introspective as when he suffers ; since he is anxious to get at the cause of his sufferings, to learn who has produced them, and whether it is just or unjust that he should have to bear them. On the other hand, when he is happy, he takes his happiness as it comes and doesn't analyse it, just as if happiness were his right.”
“If only we could see in advance all the harm that can come from the good we think we are doing.”
“When the characters are really alive before their author, the latter does nothing but follow them in their action, in their words, in the situations which they suggest to him.”
“We all grasp on to a single idea of ourselves, the way aging people dye their hair. It’s no matter that this dye doesn’t fool you. My lady, you don’t dye your hair to deceive other people, or to fool yourself, but rather to cheat your image in your mirror a little.”
“I am an "unrealized" character, dramatically speaking...”