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Wangh, M. (1976). Underlying Motivations in Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author: a Psychoanalytic View. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 24:309-328.

(1976). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24:309-328

Underlying Motivations in Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author: a Psychoanalytic View

Martin Wangh, M.D.

WHEN SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR opened in Rome on May 10, 1921, it had what might be called a succès de scandale: a near riot broke out between those in the audience who had admired the play and those who had hated it. The anti-Pirandellians were enfuriated by what they took to be deliberate, confusing nonsense. Criticism ran so high that, some four years later, Pirandello felt called upon to write a "preface" giving a post facto explanation of what he had intended to convey. There, he remarks on the inner resistance he felt against writing this drama. He solved the dilemma by making the resistance itself part of the play.

What was it about this play that provoked such intense feelings? Its complexity? Or was it that the audience felt constantly rebuffed in its desire to identify? Indeed, scarcely has one become caught up in the tragic story of the Characters than one is made to feel the absurdity of identifying with phantom personages who are not meant to be real, but merely in search of an author who will realize them. The more one becomes involved in the play, the more bewildering is the constant change of focus.

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