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Play and Pirandello's // giuoco delle parti Jerome Mazzaro 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 / 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. // 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 ofMan (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 / 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.1 453 454Comparative Drama Nowhere are these differences between Schiller and Schlegel more fully explored and exposed by Pirandello than in // giuoco delle parti and the two short stories from which it evolves. AU three examine the social conventions of marriage, honor, and dueling from the vantage point of a surplus of food, shelter, income, and leisure, and, in doing so, they not only exhibit Schiller's belief that "as long as necessity dictates and want impels, imagination is bound with strong chains to the actual" but also test popular literary conventions by which audiences know that what they are experiencing is fiction rather than reality . Historians point out, for example, that by the turn of the century the dueling on which all three works turn had become more common in novels and dramas than in life—despite the nearly three thousand duels which had been fought in Italy during the decade from 1879 to 1889.2 Similarly, the liberated wives and battles of the sexes which occur are more typical of literary high comedy than of Italian life and law. So, too, despite being perhaps closest to life, the questions of honor involving their husbands and their challengers are so exaggerated as to feed into contemporary efforts to outlaw dueling. In the earliest of the treatments, "Acqua amara" (1903), events which lead to the end of Bernardo and Carlotta Cambié's marriage are recounted. As told by Bernardo, Carlotta resembles her counterparts in "Quando s'è capito il giuoco" (1913) and // giuoco. She is liberated and, if not the equal, the wealthier and more forceful of the pair, and her efforts to secure Dr. Loero as a lover are expressed in theatrical terms ("commedia"). However, in the doctor's military background, her insistences on a challenge, the husband's complete unfamiliarity with dueling, and the contrived offense triggering the challenge there are indications of the same conspiratorial effects as giuoco in the other works. "Acqua amara" is told in first person after a distance of thirteen years and the formation of a defensive armor from years of domination, marital discord, and gossip...


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pp. 453-467
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