“Forgive me if i speak a minute in the style of philosophers,” narrates Vitangelo Moscarda in the second component of One, No One and One hundreds Thousand, the final novel through the Nobel Prize-winning Italian author Luigi Pirandello. The remark by the book’s protagonist is created as if it introduces a brief philosophical digression, but it could just also serve as an epigraph for the whole novel. Since compared also to Pirandello’s allegorical earlier fictions, One, No One and One hundreds Thousand reads more like one essay in metaphysics than a plot-driven narrative.
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It starts turn off promisingly enough, v actual dialogue and the setting of a reassuringly familiar domestic scene. Inspecting himself in prior of a mirror, Moscarda tells his mam that he’s looking in ~ his nose, because it offers him “a small pain” when he presses it. His mam replies, “I assumed you to be looking to check out which method it tilts,” at which suggest begins his plunge under the proverbial rabbit hole. Realizing because that the an initial time that his nose does indeed tilt, Moscarda has actually the alarming thought that “I didn’t recognize well also my very own body, mine most personal possessions: nose, ears, hands, legs.”
In various other words, the realizes that he doesn’t—or couldn’t—have an target idea that his own self and also identity, and that “for others ns was no what it spins now, privately, I had actually imagined myself to be.” However, fairly than stopping at this relatable epiphany and depicting how discrepancies of perception directly manifest themselves in Moscarda’s life, Pirandello has him wade v pages and pages of within monologues, in which the only other person addressed by the protagonist is the reader. “It did occur to me. But, forgive me, is it yes, really true the it occurred also to you?” is only among the many audience-directed inquiries he poses, and also they show up with such regular frequency that you can’t assist but doubt they role solely as excuses for Pirandello to expand Moscarda’s train the thought.
Given the the publication is more of one essay 보다 a narrative, readers will reap it specifically to the level that they find themselves agreeing v what Moscarda/Pirandello expounds. Admittedly, some of his ideas are interesting, such as the concept that, in a godless universe, yes sir no reliable method of deciding whose perception the a details person is much more authoritative or accurate. “You want to know, finally, what every little thing is based on? I’ll call you. Top top the presumption that God will constantly keep you. The presumption the reality, together it is for you, should be and also is the exact same for anyone else.”
But the difficulty is, despite start from basic which aren’t specifically controversial, One, No One, and also One hundreds Thousand proceeds to attract out some an extremely questionable conclusions. Start from the premise that we’re viewed differently by each of those about us, it jumps to the debate that one human being is in reality hundreds, if not thousands of various people. This may initially seem favor a not authorised metaphor, however Pirandello in reality goes so much as reifying this metaphor, treating distinctive conceptions together if lock were adequate to give birth to unique living and also breathing bodies:
Wasn’t my wife kissing, on my lips, and also man that was no I? On my lips? No! Mine, indeed! to what level were they mine, important mine the lips she to be kissing? walk she perhaps organize my human body in she arms? but to what extent could it really be mine, the body?
Irrespective of whether we have sympathy because that such ontological convictions or not, what weakens Pirandello’s debates is additionally what weakens One, No One, and also One hundred Thousand as a novel. Namely, Moscarda explains his philosophical discovery with the type of urgency that argues it’s a huge deal, with substantial ramifications for just how we lead our lives and also how culture functions. Unfortunately, he doesn’t show this via a narrative or plot so much as tell us via the mental soliloquies presented above, miscellaneous which means that, top top the contrary, deviations in perception don’t in reality make society unworkable. And in the rare instance where Pirandello does effort to show the risks posed by divergent perceptions, he leaves omissions or speaks in the abstract, fear that offering concrete instances would undermine his point:
One will say: “Moscarda did this.”
The other will say: “This, indeed! he did something rather different!”
And the third: “If friend ask me, the did the right thing. He had to execute this!”
The fourth: “Right, my foot! the did rather the wrong thing. He should have done rather . . .”
And the fifth: “What need to he have actually done? Why, the hasn’t excellent anything!”
Such evasion leaves the reader rather dissatisfied, although to be fair, the novel walk become an ext narrative-driven and less ruminative after the one hundredth web page or so. It’s approximately this point that Moscarda begins putting a (somewhat deranged) setup into action: “I chose to discover who ns was at the very least for those closest to me, my so-called acquaintances, and to entertain myself by dismantling spitefully the me that ns was for them.” Accordingly, the takes to acting strangely around his friends and also peers, all in an ostensible attempt to upend your perceptions that him and also to “prove” his newfound philosophy.
It would threat spoiling the novel’s finishing to information just what Moscarda does in its much less ponderous second half, yet suffice it come say that his exploits show off a bank, a house, and also his wife, all 3 of i beg your pardon his so late father bequeathed to him as an inheritance. However, rather than sustaining his concept that you’re an irreconcilably various person for each of her friends, it needs to be claimed that what happens to the is the result of his concerted efforts, and not the result of reality just playing out as he explains it. And more importantly, over there are an ext prosaic (yet an ext compelling) explanations for the novel’s denouement than the ide that other civilization were repelled by the truth that he no much longer satisfied their conceptions that him. Because that example, the trustees the his inherited stake in the financial institution begin turning against him, not since he “dismantles” the “me” that he was for them but simply since they fear losing money.
And a similar counter-narrative might be proffered because that the novel’s key driving force, i.e. The realization (or belief) the the individual has actually no definite identity or being. As Moscarda admits in the very very first chapter that the book, he come at this idea less due to the fact that it’s undeniably true and also irresistibly persuasive, and much more because he had never excellent anything with his life and so was currently aware the his condition as an indifferent nonentity. “It was my nature. However for the matter, true, the was also my idleness,” he acknowledges, which ultimately is a shame, because even through its overdone philosophizing and also arguable conclusions, One, No One, and also One hundred Thousand broaches a layout that is at once timeless and also timely. And while that does frustrate together a novel and also as an epitaph for its author, that does at least raise provocative questions around identity, ones that we would certainly all do well come contemplate in this self-obsessed age.
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Simon Chandler is a writer and also journalist based in Hove, UK. That writes around politics, modern technology and culture, and also has been published by together outlets together Wired, the New Internationalist, TechCrunch, the Daily Dot, the Verge, and also Cointelegraph, among others. He also writes around music because that Bandcamp and also Tiny Mix Tapes, and around literature because that the Kenyon Review and also Electric Literature.