Thresholds and Tortoises: Modernist Animality in Pirandello's Fiction

Alberto Godioli*, Carmen van den Bergh, Monica Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

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The present study provides a posthumanist reading of Pirandello’s fiction, with the aim of highlighting the author’s specifically modernist take on animality. The first half of the chapter illustrates Pirandello’s awareness of a zoological continuum encompassing human and nonhuman beings; particular emphasis is placed on his innovative dialogue with the nineteenth-century tradition (Balzac), as well as on the typically modernist aspects of his posthumanist gaze – e.g. the sense of a “cosmic” detachment from human events, and the strategic use of thresholds (openings and epilogues) to undermine the anthropocentrism inherent to traditional narrative forms. The second half focuses on a specific case study, i.e. the role assigned to the tortoise in the short stories “Paura d’esser felice” and “La tartaruga”. In both texts, the protagonist’s “becoming-tortoise” (Deleuze and Guattari) is instrumental to Pirandello’s modernist critique of anthropocentrism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPosthumanism in Italian Literature and Film
Subtitle of host publicationBoundaries and Identity
EditorsEnrica Maria Ferrara
PublisherPalgrave MacMillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-39367-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-39366-3
Publication statusPublished - 22-Aug-2020

Publication series

NameItalian and Italian American Studies


  • Posthumanism
  • Pirandello
  • Animality
  • Cosmic Irony
  • Humor
  • Modernism

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