PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
This is Pirandello's third novel, published in 1904, and marks the start of a major theme in his work - the nature of identity.
Pascal, a landowner fallen on hard times and trapped in a miserable marriage, runs away from home and wins a lot of money at the gaming tables in Monte Carlo. Meanwhile a body has been found in the millrace of his village and it is assumed that Pascal has killed himself. Seizing what looks like a chance to create a new life, he travels to Rome under an assumed name and struggles to invent a different identity which he can inhabit. He fails, returns home, finds his wife has remarried and has to act out the role of being as it were a living ghost. All these tragic events are recounted with verve and wit and comes across clearly in Simborowski's spirited translation from the Italian.
The novel is a tour de force of cynicism about the human condition.