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An examination of the ways in which Pirandello and Croci, as Modernist writers, sought to differentiate themselves from earlier literature.

An examination of the ways in which Pirandello and Croci, as Modernist writers, sought to differentiate themselves from earlier literature.

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Finola Cahill. Originally submitted for Italian Modernism at University College Dublin, with lecturer Ursula Fanning in the category of Languages & Linguistics
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Finola Cahill. Originally submitted for Italian Modernism at University College Dublin, with lecturer Ursula Fanning in the category of Languages & Linguistics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/27/2013

 
Student Number:
07645074
Module:
Italian Modernist Fiction (ITAL30020)
An examination of the ways in which Pirandello and Croci, as Modernistwriters, sought to differentiate themselves from earlier literature.
 
1
 
The Modernism movement was born in a time of great change, innovation and turmoil.During the late 19
th
and early 20
th
century many things were occurring of great importance;the Lumière brothers through cinematography introduced a new perspective on art,anthropology and psychoanalysis were evolving with the publication of Frazer’s
Golden Bough
, Amundsen was causing the map to be redrawn and World War I was causingunprecedented pain and turmoil. Modernism was essentially a reaction against the mimesisof the other contemporary literary movements of the time; Realism, Romanticism and Naturalism. The burst of new technology, creative thought and change caused some writers toquestion the ability or the reasons for attempting to recreate the world in an exact narrativeform. All theories of Realism base themselves upon the idea that reality is imitated within thenovel and that all reality is more or less stable and easily accessible. Modernists on the other hand felt Realism was just not enough, that the chronological, highly detailed, factualapproach was not a sufficient device for exploring the world of fiction, that the importance of the imagination was lost in Realism. They believed that the truth was different for different people, no absolutes exist. And so, within the Modernist movement, certain corecharacteristics emerged. Primarily, in terms of themes, many authors dealt with isolation andthe sensation of being the outsider, the importance of identity, perhaps in response to the new psychoanalytical works that were appearing at the time on such subjects. Equally the bookstended to undermine certainties, expected events and core values such as the church and thefamily unit. They even tend to question the value of literature in itself. They rejected theability to completely reflect reality, they allowed time to jump forward and back just as itdoes within our memories, and a sense of confusion often surrounded their books. The reader was not passive but had to actively participate to understand the books. I will now illustratethis with examples from two Italian Modernist works;
 Il fu Mattia Pascal 
and
Tre Croci.
2
 
Pirandello’s entire plot can be seen as a reaction against the Realist movement. It isessentially an escape, a what-if, an implausible scenario in which the possibilities of societyare explored. From the very opening of the
ll fu Mattia Pascal 
the work deviates from theRealist style. Within the first preface Mattia informs the reader that his manuscript is not to be read until after his “terza, ultima e definitava morte.”
1
This in essence, tells the main plottwists in a simple sentence. And so, the focus is shifted from what happens to how it happens,a direct contrast with the chronological form of the Realists.An example of just one of the accepted norms Pirandello challenges in this work is identity.Zola and other Realist and Naturalist writers often dealt with identity as a predisposed thing.It was dependant on your social class, environmental factors and quite unchangeable. The possible fluidity of identity is thoroughly explored within
 Il fu Mattia Pascal 
.
 
It isemphasised from the very first page of the first preface. “La solo ch’io sapessi di certo eraquesta: che mi chiamavo Mattia Pascal.”
2
From Pirandello’s very verb choices we can see the problematisation of identity coming into place, the use of the imperfetto suggests that this isno longer his name. It introduces immediately the idea that identity could be fluid. We later discover that he reinvents himself as a new character, Adriano Meis. This duality of self,splitting of personalities, is emphasised throughout the novel. In subtle ways, such as from a piece of poetry quoted: “A un tempo stesso io mi son una, e due, E fo due ciò ch’era una primamente.”
3
 But also through outright confrontations between the previous self and thenew self: “Mi fermavo qualche volta a conversar con me stesso innanzi a uno specchio e mimettevo a ridere.”
4
 Also the position of a person within the state without a valid legal identity is examined. After Mattia reinvents himself into Adriano Meis he is unable to marry the woman he loves, buy a
1
Pg. 4, Luigi Pirandello,
Il fu Mattia Pascal,
(Milano: Oscar Mondadori Press, 1988)
2
Pg. 3, Luigi Pirandello,
Il fu Mattia Pascal
3
Pg. 15, Luigi Pirandello,
Il fu Mattia Pascal
4
Pg. 90, Luigi Pirandello,
Il fu Mattia Pascal.
 
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