What were the influences/historical background that inspired Luigi Pirandello to write "War"?

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One of the story's main themes is the intellectualizing of the emotions. The fat man on board the train attempts to try and rationalize unpleasant emotions as a means of banishing them altogether. Instead of weeping over the death of his son, he positively welcomes the brave sacrifice he made...

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One of the story's main themes is the intellectualizing of the emotions. The fat man on board the train attempts to try and rationalize unpleasant emotions as a means of banishing them altogether. Instead of weeping over the death of his son, he positively welcomes the brave sacrifice he made for his country. And as it was to his country that the boy belonged, and not his parents, then neither the fat man nor any other parent has any real cause to grieve.

If Pirandello's later embrace of Fascism is anything to go by, this could be interpreted as an attack on intellectualism rather than a savage indictment of war. Fascism was notorious for elevating emotion above reason; they believed that man should think with his blood, not with his brain. In turn, this fed into a thoroughgoing militarism that glorified war and imperial conquest. Pirandello was generally supportive of this attitude, offering his Nobel Prize for Literature medal to the Fascist state so it could be melted down for the war against Abyssinia (which he wholeheartedly endorsed).

Also, Pirandello himself supported Italy's involvement in World War One, in which his son fought and was captured by enemy forces. Perhaps in writing "War," Pirandello was trying to work through his own complex emotions regarding his son and the cause for which he was fighting.

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One element in Pirandello's own consciousness that influences his short story is his belief of art, in general.  Pirandello constructed art with the idea of exploring the "psychological reality that lies beneath social appearances and overt social action."  This influence is seen in the short story when the layers behind private emotions and public masks are revealed.  The woman's pressing question about the fat man's son rips through to the barest psychological condition of the fat man.

Another influence on Pirandello in writing the short story is the desire to expose the potential hollowness of empty political slogans that benefit those in the position of power. Pirandello's own background was to recognize that those in the position of academic, political, and social power have a tendency to espouse views that are illusory, designed to enhance their own control.  The basis of the story is exploring what lies underneath " a mist of illusions." Pirandello was profoundly influenced in being able to detail a condition in which what is real is discovered out of what is imposed. This applies to a political and psychological condition of being in the world, an element that exerts a profound influence on the story.

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