Known almost exclusively in the United States for his great contribu-
tions to modern European theater, especially Six Characters in Search of
an Author and Henry IV, Luigi Pirandello began his literary career as a
novelist and writer of short stories. While these works are still widely
read and studied in Italy, they have received little attention abroad.
Although it is true that his innovations in fiction never made the star-
tling impact of those in Six Characters when that play first appeared
on the stage, they nonetheless deserve a place in the canon of early
twentieth-century European fiction evolving from naturalism to mod-
A Sicilian by birth and by formation, Pirandello began to write un-
der the influence of two prominent fellow countrymen, Luigi Capuana
and Giovanni Verga, leaders of the Italian school of naturalism known
as verismo. His first novel. L'Esclusa (The Outcast), written in
published in
realistically portrays aspects of contemporary Sicil-
ian life and mores while recounting the story of a woman banished
from her home because of unfounded rumors of her adultery, which
threatened her husband's honor. With the ironic conclusion, however.
when the protagonist. Marta, is deemed innocent and allowed to return
home (although she has in fact by then committed adultery), Piran-
dello begins to find new artistic means for depicting the relation be-
tween being and seeming, and between illusion and reality, for which
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