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on 29 January 2016
All fine.
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on 10 January 2015
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on 25 June 2011
Without wishing to retell the story in condensed form, I will say that I found the premise behind the novel, ie. that a man is given the chance, through a combination of his recklessness and fortunate circumstance, to leave his old life behind and restart afresh in total liberty at the age of around 30, to be both original and highly engaging, and one which earns my highest recommendation. Pirandello's writing style more than does justice to his story, with its beautiful flowing prose describing the scenes and feelings lived through by the narrator in what I found to be a very engaging, readable style whilst also managing to bring the characters alive with all their quirks and features.

This is a novel which to my mind can be deeply appreciated on a number of levels - not only for the beautiful writing style and absorbing narrative but also for the intelligence with which the author tackles the main theme of the book, which is what being 'free' really means in modern society, and whether being able to do whatever he wants leads a man to feel fulfilled than when he is living under constraints.

Rather than going down the obvious route of showing that 'freedom is only worthwhile if you feel loved' or some other such black-and-white cliché, the author tackles the issue with intelligence and subtelty, exploring both the opportunities and happiness available to a man when he has the freedom to act entirely as he pleases, and the ultimate impossibility of ever reaching this level of freedom in a typical organised society.

I should add that this last point is my interpretation of the novel rather than a point explicitly made by the author; it is not necessary to think about the moral or philosophical points raised to appreciate the warmth, wit and intelligence permeating this book, though those looking for something extra to dwell on after they have finished reading will find plenty of food for thought. The issues of the solitude imposed on us by large societies, and of the constraints placed on us by living in small societies are also explored at various points throughout the book.

I should point out that the humour Pirandello uses is more likely to frequently raise a smile than to make you laugh out loud, for me at least, so it would be wrong to expect some sort of comedy novel, as one previous reviewer sooms to have done. This is above all a novel following the unusual (though not impossible) imagined life-story of the main character, and his story is a human journey through loneliness, pain, happiness and love, narrated in a witty and intelligent style rather than a pantomine or comedy novel.

This is the first and so far only book by Pirandello I have read, and it certainly won't be the last. Don't be put off by the date it was written on; this book is a lot more relevant and readable than most books released nowadays, let alone fifty or one hundred years ago, both as an observation of modern society, and simply as an absorbing, good read which you won't want to put down.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 April 2013
Written in quite a beguiling first-person narrative, we follow the adventures of Mattia Pascal; in debt, unhappily married to a depressed wife, and with a witch of a mother-in-law...Then one day, possessed of a small sum of money, he takes off for a bit, tries his hand in a casino, and comes out a rich man. As he plans to return home, he happens to read a newspaper account of a body found in a stream near his home, which has wrongly been identified as himself.
Mattia now plans a life of freedom and enjoyment, living on his winnings. Only life isn't as simple as that...
"Outside of the law, and without those characteristics which, happy or sad as they may be, make us ourselves, we cannot live."
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on 13 March 2001
In this book, the protagonist, Mattia Pascal runs away from his home and his family to try his luck in Monte Carlo. While there, he finds out that his wife and children believe he has died. Thus, Mattia earns the chance to start a brand new life with a new identity. To his own grief, however, he also discovers that his old self will haunt him forever: when he falls in love with his landlord's sweet and beautiful daughter, he realizes that he cannot marry her and that his life has become a lie.
So he heads back home, only to find that he no longer holds a place in his wife's existence: she has re-married and has had a child... In this novel Pirandello explores once again his favourite subject: human identity and the complexity of character. Through Mattia Pascal's story, however, he also adds the theme of liberty and its close connection with the self: whenever one's identity is given up, as in Mattia Pascal's case, one's self-will will also be annihilated, in that a man with no identity has ultimately no life to master. A very profound book that also makes a good, entertaining reading.
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VINE VOICEon 15 June 2016
Win a fortune at Monte Carlo and at the same time your loathsome wife and harridan of a mother in law think you're dead. You're free, what could possibly go wrong? In Mr Pirandello's view you become enslaved to a new master, 'to fictions and lies'.

There are flaws in this tale but at the same time there are some very funny moments. Often Mattia, or Adrian Meis, as he becomes, seems more of a conduit for Mr Pirandello's theories than a meaningful character. His motivation for his actions later in the novel seem unfathomable yet there are scenes which more than make up for these shortcomings. It's actually a fun read.
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on 4 March 2016
I enjoyed this book .Found it interesting and moving
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on 26 November 2015
One of the best books I've ever read.
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on 17 June 1999
I can't agree with the preceding review. We must have read two different books. I read Pscal at fourteen and I found nothing funny in it. All I found was a hardly decent, terribly slow story, told in the usual boring language so dear to Italian novelists (I read it in Italian, by the way... Maybe the translator did Pirandello a great service, who knows?). It is a book that lacks life entirely. Although the story is plausible, there is no oxigen in it. Besides, it repeats pirandello's themes over and over again. OK, we know, according to him it is impossible for a man to know himself and not to have less than ten personalities at a time. We have heard this song over and over again! I mean, Pirandello dissected the same bloody theme for at least a thousands times. Why the hell couldn't he explore other themes and dilemmas as well? That is the chief problem with Italian literature: it bores readers to death.
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