“Forgive me if i speak a moment in the layout of philosophers,” narrates Vitangelo Moscarda in the second component of One, No One and also One hundred Thousand, the last novel through the Nobel Prize-winning Italian author Luigi Pirandello. The comment by the book’s protagonist is created as if it introduces a quick philosophical digression, but it might just as well serve as an epigraph because that the entire novel. Since compared even to Pirandello’s allegorical previously fictions, One, No One and also One hundreds Thousand reads more like one essay in metaphysics 보다 a plot-driven narrative.

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It starts off promisingly enough, with actual dialogue and the setting of a reassuringly familiar residential scene. Inspecting self in former of a mirror, Moscarda speak his wife that he’s looking in ~ his nose, due to the fact that it gives him “a small pain” when he presses it. His mam replies, “I assumed you to be looking to watch which method it tilts,” in ~ which allude begins his plunge down the proverbial rabbit hole. Realizing because that the an initial time that his nose does without doubt tilt, Moscarda has the alarming thought that “I didn’t recognize well even my own body, mine most an individual possessions: nose, ears, hands, legs.”

In other words, the realizes the he doesn’t—or couldn’t—have an objective idea that his very own self and also identity, and that “for others i was not what it spins now, privately, I had actually imagined myself to be.” However, fairly than avoiding at this relatable epiphany and also depicting just how discrepancies that perception directly manifest themselves in Moscarda’s life, Pirandello has actually him wade v pages and pages of inside monologues, in i m sorry the only other person addressed by the protagonist is the reader. “It did happen to me. But, forgive me, is it really true the it occurred also to you?” is only among the numerous audience-directed inquiries he poses, and they show up with such regular frequency that you can’t help but doubt they function solely as excuses because that Pirandello to expand Moscarda’s train of thought.

Given the the book is much more of one essay 보다 a narrative, readers will reap it specifically to the extent that they find themselves agreeing v what Moscarda/Pirandello expounds. Admittedly, some of his ideas are interesting, such together the id that, in a godless universe, there’s no reliable means of deciding whose perception that a specific 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 that God will constantly keep you. The presumption that reality, together it is because that you, need to be and is the same for everyone else.”

But the problem is, despite start from basic which aren’t an especially controversial, One, No One, and also One hundred Thousand proceeds to draw out some very questionable conclusions. Start from the premise the we’re viewed in different way by every of those roughly us, it jumps to the discussion that one person is actually hundreds, if not thousands of different people. This may originally seem favor a harmless metaphor, yet Pirandello in fact goes so far as reifying this metaphor, treating distinct conceptions together if they were adequate to provide birth to distinctive living and breathing bodies:

Wasn’t my mam kissing, on my lips, and man that was not I? On mine lips? No! Mine, indeed! to what level were they mine, important mine the lips she to be kissing? go she perhaps host my body in her arms? yet to what extent can it really be mine, the body?

Irrespective of even if it is we have actually sympathy because that such ontological convictions or not, what weakens Pirandello’s debates is additionally what weakens One, No One, and One hundreds Thousand as a novel. Namely, Moscarda describes his philosophical discovery with the type of urgency that argues it’s a large deal, with huge ramifications for exactly how we lead our lives and how culture functions. Unfortunately, he doesn’t show this via a narrative or plot so lot as tell us via the psychological soliloquies introduced above, other which means that, ~ above the contrary, deviations in late don’t in reality make culture unworkable. And in the rare instance where Pirandello does attempt to illustrate the hazards posed by divergent perceptions, he pipeline omissions or speaks in the abstract, fear that giving concrete examples would weaken his point:

One will certainly say: “Moscarda go this.”

The other will say: “This, indeed! that did something fairly different!”

And the third: “If you ask me, the did the appropriate thing. He had to execute this!”

The fourth: “Right, mine foot! he did quite the dorn thing. He should have actually done instead . . .”

And the fifth: “What must he have actually done? Why, that hasn’t excellent anything!”

Such evasion leaves the reader rather dissatisfied, return to be fair, the novel go become much more narrative-driven and also less ruminative ~ the one hundredth page or so. It’s around this time that Moscarda begins putting a (somewhat deranged) arrangement into action: “I decided to discover who i was at the very least for those closest come me, mine so-called acquaintances, and to amuse myself by dismantling spitefully the me that ns was for them.” Accordingly, he takes to exhilaration strangely roughly his friends and also peers, all in an ostensible attempt to upend your perceptions the him and also to “prove” his newfound philosophy.

It would threat spoiling the novel’s finishing to information just what Moscarda go in its less ponderous 2nd half, but suffice it to say the his exploits show off a bank, a house, and his wife, all 3 of i beg your pardon his so late father bequeathed to him together an inheritance. However, quite than supporting his theory that you an irreconcilably various person for each of her friends, it requirements to be said that what wake up to the is the an outcome of his concerted efforts, and also not the an outcome of reality merely playing out together he describes it. And more importantly, over there are much more prosaic (yet much more compelling) explanations for the novel’s denouement than the ide that other world were repelled by the fact that the no much longer satisfied your conceptions of him. For example, the trustees that his inherited stake in the bank begin transforming against him, not due to the fact that he “dismantles” the “me” the he to be for them yet simply due to the fact that they fear losing money.

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

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