Six Characters in Search of an Author

by Luigi Pirandello

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Read a biography of Pirandello to learn about the relationship Pirandello had with his mentally unstable wife. Then research the relationship between American author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, who had numerous emotional breakdowns after 1930 and was institutionalized several times, eventually dying in a fire in a mental hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1948. Compare the two unstable marriages and their effects on the literary careers of the two authors.

Read Pirandello's "Preface" to Six Characters in Search of an Author for his description of the genesis of his play. Then read interviews in such books as In Their Own Words (1988) and The Playwright's Art (1995) to see how contemporary playwrights respond to questions about how they initially discover their characters and stories. "What conclusions can you make about the process of artistic creation?

Research what psychologists say about the human concept of self and compare their generalizations with the observations that Pirandello presents in Six Characters in Search of an Author. Where does the concept of personal identity come from and why is it so important to the human psyche?

Research the stage history of Six Characters in Search of an Author to see how various audiences and critics in different countries and times have responded to the play. How can expectations of the conventional and/or of the unconventional color an audience member's response to an artistic experience?

Research the concepts of Relativity and the Uncertainty Principle in Physics, with especial attention to Albert Einstein and Werner Karl Heisenberg, and compare the scientific treatment of these issues with Pirandello's artistic treatment.

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