Author: Luigi Pirandello
Title: No One and One Hundred Thousand
Publish Date: 1926
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Novel
Page Length: Not specified
No One and One Hundred Thousand is a thought-provoking psychological novel published in 1926 by Italian playwright and writer, Luigi Pirandello. This intricate and introspective work explores the complex nature of identity, societal expectations, and the elusive search for self-awareness.
The novel follows the life of the protagonist, Vitangelo Moscarda, who embarks on a transformative journey after an innocent remark from his wife. This comment leads Vitangelo to question his understanding of reality and perceive himself through the eyes of others, initiating a profound exploration of his own identity.
The book is divided into four sections, each shedding light on different stages of Vitangelo's self-discovery and the consequential shifts in his relationships and understanding of the world.
Vitangelo becomes aware that throughout his life, he has never objectively seen himself. Inspired by his wife's observation that his nose is slightly off-center, Vitangelo starts perceiving himself from various angles. He realizes that he has only seen himself through the lens of others, creating a fragmented and distorted perception of his identity. This revelation sparks a desire to align his self-image with how others view him.
In this section, Vitangelo attempts to shape his identity based on public opinion. He constantly seeks feedback and attempts to mold himself according to society's expectations. However, as he conforms to different roles and personas, Vitangelo finds that the more he tries to become what others want him to be, the more he loses touch with his true self. Unraveling the layers of societal masks he wears, he discovers the futility of seeking validation from external sources.
As Vitangelo strives to uncover his authentic self, he begins to dissect the nature of the human condition. He questions the reliability of language and communication, realizing that every interaction is subjective and filtered through individual perspectives. In exploring the tenuous connection between reality and perception, Vitangelo grapples with the existential concept that he is both "no one" and all "One Hundred Thousand" interpretations simultaneously.
The final section confronts the consequences of Vitangelo's quest for self-awareness. Alienated from society and haunted by his obsession with understanding himself, he becomes disillusioned. As he rejects societal expectations and removes the masks he has worn throughout his life, Vitangelo experiences isolation and detachment from those around him. Ultimately, he discovers that complete self-knowledge and acceptance may come at the cost of losing connections with others.
Throughout No One and One Hundred Thousand, Luigi Pirandello highlights the notion that one's identity is elusive and multifaceted, shaped by external perceptions and societal constructs, rather than being an inherent and fixed attribute. The author's masterful exploration of the human psyche delves into themes of self-perception, the constraints of societal norms, and the intrinsic challenges of fully understanding oneself.
No One and One Hundred Thousand stands as a seminal work in world literature, challenging readers to question their own perceptions of identity and the influence of external forces on their lives. Pirandello's novel serves as an enduring reminder of the complexities inherent in the human experience and the ceaseless search for self that defines us all.