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The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello

The Late Mattia Pascal (1936)

by Luigi Pirandello

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English (9)  Italian (4)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (16)
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A great book about an absurd life, an absurd death and a forged identity. A deep reflection on life through the most comic of stories. A perfect character construction. One of the masterpieces in Italian literature. ( )
  Miguelnunonave | Aug 7, 2013 |

Mattia Pascal.

Mattia Pascal was a man born to endure adversities in every walk of life. He was a dutiful son who saw his family affluence ruined by a benefactor after his father’s death and his mother’s existence fading into rueful shadows. He was a concerned husband and a doting father even in the thorniest situations that brought demoralizing repercussions in his marital life. The only thing Mattia was ever sure about in his burdensome life was his name-Mattia Pascal. It was his solitary possession that he found solace in. May God bless his soul and hope that he ultimately finds peace for he truly needs it.
Remember you until the end of time – Adriano Meis.

Adriano Meis

Adriano Meis cradled in boundless freedom. He was an architect of his own life. Adriano lived a cheerful life with no obligatory relations. Free as a bird; he traveled places, embraced a new world with open arms where imagination had no boundaries. He was a self-made man justly born to be free. Yet, he died in solitude being caged in his own individuality; a man whose existence was in itself a nothingness.
Thanking you for an ephemeral bliss -- Anonymous.

Late Mattia Pascal is indisputably Pirandello’s masterpiece. Written in a biographical form it deals with the facet of personal identity and the calamitous dilemma of its mutability. The plot runs through familiarizing the reader with the fateful life of a young Italian man- Mattia Pascal, to whom happiness is a rare commodity. Troubled by a miserable marriage, penurious livelihood and utter condemnation of his survival; Mattia leaves his native land in search of a unsullied liberated self. Compelled by his rebellious mind-set, he finds an opportunity in a miscalculation when a newspaper reports his fallacious death. Finally, an escape to a freer life and thus an alter-ego unchained to societal obligation is created. Adriano Meis was a specter of broken ties who would be distressed by the humanness of Mattia Pascal.

Unmasking a phantom.

The famous Pirandellian epistemology of post-modernism/existentialism questioning the foundation of distinguishable identity and its significance to human existence illuminates through the minute details of Mattia’s life. Was Mattia legit in his actions of concealing the truth and using the passage to live an entirely different life? Would it have been better if he had braved his unfortunate situations rather than living like a ghost? Is a specified identity essential to individual to acquire a civil status that may sometimes become burdensome? Is identity purely mechanical or is there a human trait to its implication? The manuscript undeniably rattles your grey cells and makes you ponder on the limits of unconsciously self-constructing a new identity without acquiring a legit civil status. Freedom is what everyone craves to escape the harsh conditions of misfortune. But with limitless freedom comes the human aspect of excruciating seclusion and constraints of legitimacy. Death was seen as a liberating prospect by Mattia from his entire monetary and emotional burden. His newly altered appearance and name bestowed him contentment, until his past caught up overwhelming him with nostalgic reminiscences, thus gradually transmuting his new persona into a dense prison in itself. Pirandello justifies the legitimacy of society and reality that forms convinced “shadows” of which individuals can never liberate themselves, except when death overtakes mind, body and soul. In the end, whether it was Mattia or his alter-ego (Adriano), they were merely trying to unmask a self-created phantom as neither both could entirely break away from from each other.
( )
  Praj05 | Apr 5, 2013 |
Bellissimo classico; alcune parti richiedono particolare attenzione. ( )
  david-e | Apr 1, 2013 |

Have you ever thought about going to a place where nobody knows you and starting a new life as an entirely new person?

Luigi Pirandello makes Mattia Pascal live out this fantasy. Great misery has befallen Mattia Pascal and there is no silver lining in sight. Unable to think of anything else to do, he runs away leaving everyone and everything behind. A few days later on his way back home, he discovers that while he was away a dead body was mistaken for his and he has been declared dead in his town. Out of the confusion this caused emerged one thought: FREEDOM!! All the ties of his past life were now broken and Mattia could now re-invent himself and live a new, better life.

And then follows the tragi-comic tale of the late Mattia Pascal. Life experiences have a great say in shaping a person. In trying to erase his past, Mattia Pascal had to lose a great part of himself. His roots were cut-off and he was empty, a mere shadow of a person. He found himself struggling with the questions of self-identity and his purpose in life. The people he had left behind, the ones who thought he was dead were indeed free of him, in a true sense. He, on the other hand, could not escape the past life he had lived. Poor Mattia's miserable adventure at living a new life reminds me of something Fyodor Dostoevsky said in Crime and Punishment:

"If you ran away, you’d come back to yourself."

Mattia never found real freedom, it was only an illusion. The question of whether free will really exists has been a long standing debate. And Pirandello's take on this is in the negative. What Mattia was living was tyranny masked as freedom. How could he ever hope for a true friendship or relationship when he was not free to reveal the real himself to anyone. His freedom tied him in the chains of solitude, complete solitude. The only life left for Mattia Pascal was that of the ghost of himself.

Pirandello's writing is very accessible and easy to read. It is flavored with wit, irony and subtle humor. For casual readers, he gives a compelling and well-crafted story. For more serious readers, it is interspersed with intriguing thoughts, reflections on life and some beautiful passages. The novel is a little treat for those who love existential themes and paradoxes.

My copy of the book has a brief beautiful post-script by the author where he talks about art, reality vs. illusion and how very realistic human significance can sometimes be found in imaginary fables. This was in response to critics who had denounced his work for being unrealistic and far from normal life.
The postscript is followed by another one which reports a *real life* case similar to the life of Mattia Pascal in this novel, which happened several years after the novel was first published. Fiction is real, after all!
( )
  HearTheWindSing | Mar 31, 2013 |
This is an energetic and entertaining book despite its potentially depressing subject material. There’s an almost metafictional irony that seems modern for the time it was published (1904). Pirandello includes all sorts of random enjoyable oddities that aren’t necessary for the plot but also has thoughtful digressions on identity and the meaning of life. Mattia Pascal, the narrator, has abandoned his unhappy life after he is mistakenly identified as a dead body but finds his freedom is cold and empty. He tries to form new relationships but life as a non-person makes that difficult.

Mattia Pascal comes from a wealthy family but through laziness he loses his inheritance to a supposed family friend. He steals the girl his best friend loves, Romilda, and marries her after she gets pregnant. Mattia is unhappy in his reduced circumstances and despises his mother-in-law. He later takes a boring job at the deserted library which pays the bills. After his daughter dies, he finds life intolerable and runs off. Winning a fortune at a casino, Mattia returns home only to find an article stating that a body was found and believed to be his. He takes on a new identify and travels around Europe but that eventually becomes boring. In Rome, he rents a room from the odd Anselmo Paleari, who talks to the dead and holds séances, and his sweet daughter Adriana. At first distant, Mattia gradually warms up to the family but his secret stands in the way of anything closer.

The book drags a bit in the middle section when Mattia, now Adriano Meis, travels from country to country but is otherwise an engaging read. The first section is told with a characteristic verve which makes the story of losing everything and marrying unhappily sparkle. The side characters are vividly drawn. There are a number of comic bits, especially Mattia’s job working in a library bequeathed to the town by a rich man. No one visits the library and the other caretaker is a nearly blind, deaf and senile man who reads boring lists aloud as part of some misguided sense of duty. The last section also has weird characters and comic moments but there are some wonderful passages describing the essential loneliness of a man who has abandoned his identity. He’s always a liar and must constantly be thinking about his backstory. He can’t go to the police or attract any attention – he’s almost like a criminal. He hasn’t even really left his life as marrying someone else would be to knowingly commit a crime while his former wife has no such worries. The freedom is as stifling as the lives Mattia leaves but he realizes that life for him has no meaning without other people. There’s a suitably bittersweet but comic ending. ( )
4 vote DieFledermaus | Aug 2, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (100 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Luigi Pirandelloprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Croci, GiovanniIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
良夫, 米川Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidotti, PaoloCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simic, CharlesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simioni, CorradoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Una delle poche cose, anzi forse la sola ch'io sapessi di certo era questa: che mi chiamavo Mattia Pascal. E me ne approfittavo.
One of the few things - perhaps the only one - that I know for certain is that my name is Mattia Pascal.
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Book description
‟Una delle poche cose, anzi forse la sola ch'io sapessi di certo era questa: che mi chiamavo Mattia Pascal.” È l'incipit del romanzo più noto di Luigi Pirandello: Il fu Mattia Pascal (1904). In esso è contenuta la cellula generativa dell'intero libro. Quando lo scrisse, lo scrittore siciliano ne sapeva quanto chi, scorse queste prime righe, si predispone alla lettura. Scelti nome e cognome, cominciano le peripezie del personaggio, il quale presto si trova in una situazione simile a quella dell'autore: deve lui stesso dare vita a ‟un uomo inventato”. Durante questa vera e propria avventura dei nomi, il libro assume la sua forma pienamente novecentesca, nella quale autobiografia e biografia immaginaria si confondono. Consanguineo di quelli che saranno i sei personaggi in cerca d'autore, Mattia Pascal sembra a tratti lanciare messaggi al lettore perché lo liberi dal vincolo cartaceo e dunque dalla sua muta solitudine.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0941419444, Paperback)

While living an oppressive, provincial existence, Mattia Pascal learns that he has been mistakenly declared dead. Blessed with that rarest of opportunities - the chance to start an entirely new life - he moves to a new city under an assumed name, only to find this new "free" existence unbearable. Faking his own suicide, he returns to his hometown, where his wife has remarried and his job has been filled. Reduced to a sad walk-on part in his own life, the only role now left to him is that of the "late Mattia Pascal".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:17 -0400)

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