Monday 22 June 2020

Book Review: Stories for the Years by Luigi Pirandello (Modern Classics / Short Stories)

Stories for the Years

Author: Luigi Pirandello
Yale University Press

Publication Date: 5 August 2020
eBook - PDF
Modern Classics/Short Stories
ARC via NetGalley


Regarded as one of Europe’s great modernists, Pirandello was also a master storyteller, a fine observer of the drama of daily life with a remarkable sense of the crushing burdens of class, gender, and social conventions. Set in the author’s birthplace of Sicily, where the arid terrain and isolated villages map the fragile interior world of his characters, and in Rome, where modern life threatens centuries-old traditions, these original stories are sun baked with the deep lore of Italian folktales. In “The Jar,” a broken earthenware pot pits its owner, a quarrelsome landholder, against a clever inventor of a mysterious glue. “The Dearly Departed” tells the story of a young widow and her new husband on their honeymoon, haunted at every turn by the sly visage of the deceased. The scorned lover, the despondent widow, the intransigent bureaucrat, the wretched peasant—Pirandello’s characters expose the human condition in all its fatalism, injustice, and raw beauty. For lovers of Calvino and Pasolini, these picturesque stories preserve a memory of an Italy long gone, but one whose recurring concerns still speak to us today.

I studied Six Characters in Search of an Author at university, but I had no idea Pirandello had also written novels and short stories until I saw this book available for request on NetGalley. I was therefore keen to give it a try, and I wasn't disappointed. Stories for the Years is a delightful collection of quirky tales. Each set in Sicily, with nods to local folklore, they introduce a charming group of memorable and engaging characters and fun situations. At times hilarious and at times poignant, they cover a wide range of themes, but with a special focus on identity and a vanishing world as the modern breaks in on tradition. Well worth a read, and it's a clear 4.5 stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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