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’.
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.