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Writing about Luigi Pirandello, English, Italian

Eleven Short Stories- Undici Novelle- Pirandello

Eleven Short Stories- Undici Novelle- Pirandello

I’m reading Eleven Short Stories or Undici Novelle by the Nobel Laureate Luigi Pirandello. It is a dual language book, and for a lover of Italian and of short stories, a rare piece of indulgence.

What I love about the book is not just Pirandello’s masterful storytelling, somewhat reminiscent of Chekov, but also the lyrical quality of the Italian, when I read it just after the English version. With English you have to make an effort to make your lines sound lyrical, spoken Italian is music itself.

Here’s an excerpt from the short story Citrons from Sicily, or Lumie di Sicilia:

He leaned his head forward so he could observe the illuminated room at the far end, and he saw a great number of gentlemen in tailcoats talking confusedly. His sight grew dim; his amazement and agitation were so great that he himself didn’t realize that his eyes had filled with tears; he closed them, and he shut himself completely in that darkness, as if to resist the torment that a long ringing laugh was causing him. It was Teresina laughing like that, in the other room.

Sporse il capo a guardare in fondo la sala illuminata e vide tanti signori in marsina, che parlavano confusamente. La vista gli s’annebbio’: era tanto lo stupore, tanta la commozione, che non s’accorse egli stesso che gli occhi gli si erano riempiti di lacrime: li chiuse, e in quel buio si strinse tutto in se’ quasi per resistere allo strazio che li cagionava una lunga squillante risata. Teresina rideva cosi, di la’.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • DarcKnyt says:

    If there is one thing I could do with my life but it couldn’t be writing, it would be the study of languages. I love linguistics. They’re all so beautiful in their own ways.