Italo Calvino was only twenty-three when he first published this bold and imaginative novel. It tells the story of Pin, a cobbler's apprentice in a town on the Ligurian coast during World War II. He lives with his sister, a prostitute, and spends as much time as he can at a seedy bar where he amuses the adult patrons. After a mishap with a Nazi soldier, Pin becomes involved with a band of partisans. Calvino's portrayal of these characters, seen through the eyes of a child, is not only a revealing commentary on the Italian resistance but an insightful coming-of-age story.
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler turns out to be not one novel but ten, each with a different plot, style, ambience, and author, and each interrupted at a moment of suspense. Together they form a labyrinth of literatures, known and unknown, alive and extinct, through which two readers, a male and a female, pursue both the story lines that intrigue them and one another.
One of the major figures of modern theater, Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936) wrote dramas and satires that sparked controversy with their radical departures from conventional theatrical techniques. His most celebrated work, Six Characters in Search of an Author, embodies the Nobel Prize-winning playwright's innovations by presenting an open-ended drama on a stage without sets.
First performed in 1923, this intellectual comedy introduces six individuals to a stage where a company of actors has assembled for a rehearsal. Claiming to be the incomplete, unused creations of an author's imagination, they demand lines for a story that will explain the details of their lives. In ensuing scenes, these "real-life characters," all professing to be part of an extended family, produce a drama of sorts — punctuated by disagreements, interruptions, and arguments. In the end they are dismissed by the irate manager, their dilemma unsolved and the "truth" a matter of individual viewpoints.
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