The Late Mattia Pascal

Overview

Mattia Pascal endures a life of drudgery in a provincial town. Then, providentially, he discovers that he has been declared dead. Realizing he has a chance to start over, to do it right this time, he moves to a new city, adopts a new name, and a new course of life—only to find that this new existence is as insufferable as the old one. But when he returns to the world he left behind, it's too late: his job is gone, his wife has remarried. Mattia Pascal's fate is to live on as the...

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The Late Mattia Pascal

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Overview

Mattia Pascal endures a life of drudgery in a provincial town. Then, providentially, he discovers that he has been declared dead. Realizing he has a chance to start over, to do it right this time, he moves to a new city, adopts a new name, and a new course of life—only to find that this new existence is as insufferable as the old one. But when he returns to the world he left behind, it's too late: his job is gone, his wife has remarried. Mattia Pascal's fate is to live on as the ghost of the man he was.

An explorer of identity and its mysteries, a connoisseur of black humor, Nobel Prize winner Luigi Pirandello is among the most teasing and profound of modern masters. The Late Mattia Pascal, here rendered into English by the outstanding translator William Weaver, offers an irresistible introduction to this great writer's work

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Three writers of the twentieth century have given voice to—and leant their names to—our disquiet, our injuries, and our fear; at the same time, through the catharsis or measure of contemplation, which are among the revelations of art, they have helped us to live by tempering our anxiety and desperation; and I am using this term, tempering, in a musical sense…of striking a more pure, more cristalline, more vibrant note. These three writers are Pirandello, Kafka, and Borges.
— Leonardo Sciascia

Very funny, often hilariously so. It is also moving, disturbing, tragic. For Pirandello saw comedy residing in “the fundamental contradiction … between human aspiration and frailty,” a contradiction that induced “a certain perplexity between weeping and laughing.”
— The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Universally recognized as one of the founding figures of modern drama and theater, Pirandello is virtually unknown here as a novelist and short story writer. Written in 1904, this novel touches on some of the themes that reverberate throughout his work: illusion and reality, the enigmas of identity, art and life. The narratorprotagonist is something of a buffoon, a figure out of comic opera, the impoverished son of a once-rich family stripped bare by a villainous swindler of an estate manager. Living a dreary life as an archivist, tired of his dismal marriage, plagued by an intrusive mother-in-law, tormented by creditors, he slips away to Monte Carolo and hits it big. While he is gone, a suicide in his hometown is mistakenly identified as the very same Mattia, who, being an enterprising scamp, changes name and identity, marries anew in adopted territory, fakes his own suicide and returns to the orginal scene as his old self, to the consternation and confusion of everyone. Comedy descends to farce and slapstick here and there; but no harm done. Essentially the novel is a lark, with some shadowy overtones; and the portrait of town lifethe ``biographies of worms,'' Mattia saysis drawn in acid. April
Library Journal
Pascall abhors his life until he accidentally is declared dead and gets to start over under a new name. When that existence also flounders, he realizes he didn't have it so bad. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Janette Turner Hospital
"The novel is very funny, often hilariously so. It is also moving, disturbing, tragic. Pirandello's saw comedy residing in that 'fundamental contradiction...between human aspiration and human fraility,' a contradiction that induced 'a certain perplexity between weeping and laughing.'" -- The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590171158
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 10/10/2004
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 696,975
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) was born in Agrigento, Sicily, the son of a rich mining contractor. Having studied at the universities of Palermo and Rome and taken a degree in philology at Bonn, the young Pirandello turned to writing poetry and stories, achieving his first literary success in 1904 with his novel The Late Mattia Pascal. During World War I, Pirandello began to write for the stage, winning an international following with plays such as Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) and HenryIV (1922). In 1934, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Pirandello was the author of novels, essays, stories, and more than fifty plays, as well as an influence on writers as different as Eugène Ionesco and T.S. Eliot. Commenting on his work in 1920 he wrote:

"I think that life is a very sad piece of buffoonery; because we have in ourselves, without being able to know why, wherefore or whence, the need to deceive ourselves constantly by creating a reality (one for each and never the same for all), which from time to time is discovered to be vain and illusory…. My art is full of bitter compassion for all those who deceive themselves; but this compassion cannot fail to be followed by the ferocious derision of destiny which condemns man to deception."

Charles Simic is a poet, essayist and translator. He has published twenty collections of his own poetry, five books of essays, a memoir, and numerous of books of translations. He has received many literary awards for his poems and his translations, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Griffin Prize and the MacArthur Fellowship. Voice at 3 A.M., his selected later and new poems, was published in 2003 and a new book of poems My Noiseless Entourage came out in the spring of 2005. His new e-book is titled Confessions of a Poet Laureate.

William Weaver is celebrated for his numerous translations from the Italian, including Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and novels and stories by Italo Calvino.

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