“Forgive me if i speak a minute in the layout of philosophers,” narrates Vitangelo Moscarda in the second part of One, No One and One hundreds Thousand, the final novel through the Nobel Prize-winning Italian writer Luigi Pirandello. The comment by the book’s protagonist is composed as if it introduces a quick philosophical digression, yet it can just too serve together an epigraph for the whole novel. Because compared also to Pirandello’s allegorical previously fictions, One, No One and also One hundreds Thousand reads much more like an essay in metaphysics 보다 a plot-driven narrative.

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It starts turn off promisingly enough, v actual dialogue and the setting of a reassuringly familiar residential scene. Inspecting himself in front of a mirror, Moscarda tells his wife that he’s looking in ~ his nose, due to the fact that it offers him “a small pain” when he presses it. His wife replies, “I believed you to be looking to see which method it tilts,” at which allude begins his plunge down the proverbial rabbit hole. Realizing for the very first time the his sleep does undoubtedly tilt, Moscarda has actually the alarming thought that “I didn’t recognize well also my own body, my most personal possessions: nose, ears, hands, legs.”

In other words, that realizes the he doesn’t—or couldn’t—have an target idea that his very own self and identity, and also that “for others i was no what till now, privately, I had actually imagined myself come be.” However, quite than stopping at this relatable epiphany and also depicting how discrepancies that perception straight manifest us in Moscarda’s life, Pirandello has actually him wade through pages and also pages of inner monologues, in which the just other human addressed by the protagonist is the reader. “It did occur to me. But, excuse me, is it really true the it occurred additionally to you?” is only among the numerous audience-directed concerns he poses, and also they appear with such regular frequency the you can’t help but doubt they function solely as excuses for Pirandello to prolong Moscarda’s train of thought.

Given that the book is an ext of one essay 보다 a narrative, readers will reap it exactly to the degree that they uncover themselves agreeing through what Moscarda/Pirandello expounds. Admittedly, several of his principles are interesting, such together the concept that, in a godless universe, yes no reliable means of deciding who perception the a details person is much more authoritative or accurate. “You desire to know, finally, what whatever is based on? I’ll tell you. Top top the presumption the God will always keep you. The presumption the reality, together it is for you, need to be and is the same for everyone else.”

But the problem is, despite start from premises which aren’t specifically controversial, One, No One, and also One hundreds Thousand proceeds to attract out some an extremely questionable conclusions. Beginning from the premise the we’re viewed differently by every of those about us, the jumps to the discussion that one human is actually hundreds, if not thousands of different people. This may originally seem favor a unauthorized metaphor, however Pirandello in truth goes so far as reifying this metaphor, treating distinctive conceptions as if lock were adequate to offer birth to unique living and breathing bodies:

Wasn’t my mam kissing, on my lips, and man who was no I? On mine lips? No! Mine, indeed! come what degree were lock mine, important mine the lips she to be kissing? walk she perhaps host my human body in she arms? but to what extent might 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 likewise what weakens One, No One, and also One hundreds Thousand as a novel. Namely, Moscarda explains his philosophical exploration with the sort of urgency that suggests it’s a big deal, with enormous ramifications for how we lead our lives and how culture functions. Unfortunately, he doesn’t show this via a rigid or plot so lot as tell us via the psychological soliloquies introduced above, other which indicates that, ~ above the contrary, deviations in perception don’t in reality make society unworkable. And in the rare instance where Pirandello does effort to highlight the threats posed through divergent perceptions, he pipeline omissions or speak in the abstract, fear that offering concrete instances would weaken his point:

One will say: “Moscarda walk this.”

The various other will say: “This, indeed! he did something quite different!”

And the third: “If friend ask me, that did the best thing. He had actually to execute this!”

The fourth: “Right, mine foot! he did quite the not correct thing. He should have done instead . . .”

And the fifth: “What have to he have done? Why, the hasn’t done anything!”

Such evasion pipeline the reader rather dissatisfied, back to it is in fair, the novel go become more narrative-driven and also less ruminative ~ the one hundredth web page or so. It’s about this point that Moscarda begins putting a (somewhat deranged) plan into action: “I decided to uncover who ns was at the very least for those closest come me, mine so-called acquaintances, and also to entertain myself through dismantling spitefully the me that i was for them.” Accordingly, he takes to acting strangely roughly his friends and peers, all in an ostensible effort to upend their perceptions the him and also to “prove” his newfound philosophy.

It would risk spoiling the novel’s ending to detail just what Moscarda go in its much less ponderous second half, however suffice it to say that his exploits involve a bank, a house, and also his wife, all 3 of i beg your pardon his late father bequeathed come him together an inheritance. However, fairly than sustaining his theory that you’re an irreconcilably different person because that each of her friends, it needs to be stated that what happens to that is the result of his concerted efforts, and also not the result of reality just playing out together he explains it. And an ext importantly, over there are much more prosaic (yet much more compelling) explanations because that the novel’s denouement than the pointer that other human being were repelled by the fact that he no longer satisfied their conceptions that him. Because that example, the trustees the his inherited stake in the financial institution begin transforming against him, not because he “dismantles” the “me” the he to be for them but simply because they fear losing money.

And a similar counter-narrative might be proffered for the novel’s key driving force, i.e. The currently (or belief) that the individual has actually no definite identity or being. As Moscarda admits in the very first chapter of the book, he arrives at this idea less due to the fact that it’s undeniably true and also irresistibly persuasive, and much more because he had never done anything through his life and so was already aware of his status as an indifferent nonentity. “It was my nature. Yet for that matter, true, the was likewise my idleness,” he acknowledges, which eventually is a shame, because even with its overdone philosophizing and arguable conclusions, One, No One, and also One hundred Thousand broaches a template that is at when timeless and timely. And also while it does frustrate together a novel and as one epitaph for its author, it does at the very least raise provocative questions about identity, ones the we would certainly all carry out well come contemplate in this self-obsessed age.

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Simon Chandler is a writer and journalist based in Hove, UK. That writes about politics, an innovation and culture, and has been released by together outlets as Wired, the New Internationalist, TechCrunch, the Daily Dot, the Verge, and also Cointelegraph, among others. He likewise writes about music for Bandcamp and Tiny Mix Tapes, and about literature for the Kenyon Review and Electric Literature.