chapter  1
32 Pages

'Non parola ma la cosa stessa': Pirandello, Metaphor and 'L'umorismo'

WithCatherine O'Rawe

This chapter plots, through an examination of the metaphors and images which litter the essay, Pirandello's metalinguistic poetics of umorismo, uncovering the fundamental fault lines which the essay traces and reveals in Pirandello's approach to language and fictionality. Umorismo, as an aesthetic which goes beyond the literal, surface meaning to a more profound revelation of a second meaning, emphasizes the centrality of Pirandello's conception of figurative meaning within it. The Aristotelian theory of metaphor as comparison opposes literal meaning to figurative meaning, seeing metaphor as an impropriety or deviation, in which a stable term is substituted by a metaphorical one. If it is possible to speak of a figurative economy of umorismo, it is one which is pervaded by organic metaphors, and these metaphors of trees and plants, or natural growth and fructification, as figures of both the work of art and the self, form a subtext in which Pirandello's narrative is grounded.