Article Title

Play and Pirandello's Il giuoco delle parti


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Audiences of Luigi Pirandello's major dramas are invariably faced with the word giuoco or "play" in the course of dramatic actions. In Sei personaggi in cerca d' autore (1921), Enrico IV (1922), and I giganti della montagna (1937), for instance, giuoco is used to refer to the ability of children to externalize the wonder within them and to believe in its reality at the same time that they recognize its disguises. The word is also used to oppose theatrical acting and illusion that, for various reasons, do not always succeed in enlisting the same degree of belief which children at play possess and which can border on madness. Il giuoco delle parti (1918) and Come tu mi vuoi (1930) add to these uses the idea that games involve risk. They are played to decide winners and losers, and one ought to be careful not to become an actor or pawn in another's personal construct. In On Humor (1908), giuoco becomes what Friedrich Schiller calls Spieltrieb in On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795). It is that blending of man's sensuous nature and material impulse with his reason and formal impulse, considered by Schiller to be the goal of humanity. In acknowledging Schiller's concept, Pirandello dismisses Friedrich Schlegel's exaggeration of its divorces from necessity into "irony" or play-for-its-own-sake. He cites Johann Fichte's belief that, in creating universes "by the spirit, by the Self," individuals do not seek isolation but "submit to the will of the whole" and "strive for the highest degree of moral harmony." Opposed in the process is Schlegel 's sense of one's never allowing these creations to have the whole-hearted identifications which children or the Father of Sei personaggi and Cotrone in I giganti demand. The individual remains "fully aware, even in the moments of pathos, of the unreality of his creations" and laughs at those who are drawn into the deception as well as those who, like Salter in Come tu mi vuoi, devote their lives to playing.1

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