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Self and Self-Compromise in the Narratives of Pirandello and Moravia

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M. John Stella

This study presents a distinctly new interpretation of key works by Luigi Pirandello and Alberto Moravia that dramatizes the identity crisis of the individual, a theme that figures so prominently in twentieth-century literature. Previous criticism considered these narratives solely within a European context and assumed that the protagonists failed to resolve their dilemmas. As the present study reveals, however, an alternative approach is warranted by evidence that Pirandello and Moravia were familiar with fundamental tenets of Buddhism, the first philosophy to advocate the deconstruction of personal identity. Combining a lucid explanation of Buddhist doctrine with Western sources, Dr. Stella demonstrates that by «losing their identity,» characters such as Mattia Pascal end not in defeat, as is commonly supposed, but in victory over existential suffering and discontent.