Tyler Jones's Reviews > The Late Mattia Pascal

The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello
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Dec 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: italian-literature

Even in so-called literary circles, the name of Luigi Pirandello is connected primarily with his innovative work as a playwright. Almost entirely forgotten, at least outside of the Italian speaking world, are the early novels which launched his literary career. The Late Mattia Pascal, published in 1904 could certainly lay claim to being one of the most unjustly under-appreciated books of the Twentieth Century. It is a psychological meditation grafted on to a rollicking comic adventure. Perhaps these very comic elements are what has doomed the book to be taken less seriously than it deserves.

Mattia Pascal is born into a family of modest wealth, but whose fortune has all but vanished while Mattia is still in his teens. Through his own misadventures (though Mattia would certainly lay the blame on others) he finds himself trapped in an unbearable marriage and deeply in debt. Then an incredible turn of events presents Mattia with the opportunity to escape his dreary life and start fresh with enough money that he need never work again.

Pirandello brilliantly layers a novel with insight and philosophical weight on top of a plot that is escapist fantasy-fulfillment; for who hasn't dreamed of starting life over with a clean slate and pile of cash? Then, in "A Warning on the Scruples of the Imagination", Pirandello successfully argues that his outrageous plot is not at all far-fetched - that in fact just such events are more common place than we suspect. Thus, through art, Pirandello opens our eyes to the magic of everyday life.

Kudos again to New York Review Books for bringing important works such as this back into print.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2004 – Finished Reading
December 5, 2011 – Shelved as: italian-literature
December 5, 2011 – Shelved

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