The Nobel Prize in Literature 1934
Born: 28 June 1867, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy
Died: 10 December 1936, Rome, Italy
Residence at the time of the award: Italy
Prize motivation: "for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art."
Prize share: 1/1
Luigi Pirandello grew up in a family with large investments in the mining industry. He received his elementary education at home and later earned a doctorate in philology. As a young man, Pirandello worked with his father at the family’s sulfur mines before marrying Antonietta Portulano. Major flooding of the mines in 1903 became an economic and personal disaster for the family. Pirandello donated his Nobel Prize medal to Italy’s fascist government to be melted down for the benefit of the Italian occupation and colonization of Ethiopia.
Luigi Pirandello wrote over 100 short stories, about 40 plays and seven novels. His plays, which often contain both farce and tragedy, paved the way for the theater of the absurd in the 1950s. Pirandello’s plays explore psychology, the ego and identity issues. Today his experimental metaplay Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore (Six Characters in Search of an Author) is widely read and staged. However, audience reactions to the 1921 premiere created such an uproar that Pirandello was forced to leave the theater through a side exit.
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