Short summary - The Late Mattia Pascal - Luigi Pirandello

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - The Late Mattia Pascal
Luigi Pirandello

Mattia Pascal, a former curator of books in a library bequeathed to his native city by a certain Signor Boccamazza, is writing the story of his life. Mattia's father died early, and his mother was left with two children - six-year-old Roberto and four-year-old Mattia. All affairs were managed by the manager Batta Malanya, who soon ruined the family of the former owner. After the death of his first wife, the elderly Malanya married the young Oliva, to whom Mattia was not indifferent, but they had no children, and Malanya began to offend Oliva, considering her to blame for this. Oliva suspected that it was not about her, but about Malanya, but decency prevented her from verifying her suspicions. Friend Mattia Pomino told him that he was in love with Malania's cousin Romilda. Her mother wanted to marry the girl to the rich man Malanya, but this did not work out, and now, when Malanya began to repent of his marriage to the childless Oliva, she is plotting new intrigues. Mattia wants to help Pomino marry Romilda and makes acquaintance with her. He keeps telling Romilda about Pomino, but the lover himself is so timid that she eventually falls in love not with him, but with Mattia. The girl is so good that Mattia cannot resist and becomes her lover. He is going to marry her, and then she suddenly breaks up with him. Oliva complains to Mattia's mother about Malanya: he received evidence that they do not have children through no fault of his, and triumphantly told her about it. Mattia realizes that Romilda and her mother have vilely deceived both him and Malanya, and in retaliation makes Oliva a child. Then Malanya accuses Mattia of having dishonored and killed his niece Romilda. Malanya says that out of pity for the poor girl, he wanted to adopt her child when he was born, but now that the Lord sent him a legitimate child from his own wife as a consolation, he can no longer call himself the father of another child who will be born to his niece. Mattia is left in the cold and forced to marry Romilda, as her mother threatens him with a scandal. Immediately after the wedding, Mattia's relationship with Romilda deteriorates. She and her mother cannot forgive him for depriving his legitimate child, for now all of Malanya's fortune will go to Oliva's child. Romilda gives birth to twin girls, Oliva has a boy. One of the girls dies a few days later, the other, to whom Mattia manages to become very attached, before she reaches the age of a year. Pomino, whose father becomes a member of the municipality, helps Mattia get a job as a librarian at the Boccamazzi library. One day, after a family scandal, Mattia, in whose hands a small amount of money accidentally turned out to be unknown to his wife or mother-in-law, leaves home and goes to Monte Carlo. There he goes to the casino, where he wins about eighty-two thousand lire. The suicide of one of the players makes him change his mind, he stops the game and goes home. Mattia imagines how his wife and mother-in-law will be amazed at the unexpected wealth, he is going to buy out the mill in Stia and live in peace in the village. Having bought a newspaper, Mattia reads it on the train and stumbles upon an announcement that in his homeland, in Miragno, a heavily decomposed corpse was found in a mill lock in Stia, in which everyone identified the librarian Mattia Pascal, who disappeared a few days ago. People believe that the cause of suicide was financial difficulties. Mattia is shocked, he suddenly realizes that he is completely free: everyone considers him dead, which means that now he has no debts, no wife, no mother-in-law, and he can do whatever he pleases. He rejoices at the opportunity; to live, as it were, two lives and decides to live them in two different guises. From his former life, he will only have a squinting eye. He chooses a new name for himself: henceforth his name is Adriano Meis. He changes his hairstyle, clothes, invents a new biography for himself, throws away his wedding ring. He travels, but is forced to live modestly, as he must stretch his money for the rest of his life: the lack of documents deprives him of the opportunity to enter the service. He cannot even buy a dog: taxes must be paid for it, and documents are also required for this.

Mattia decides to settle in Rome. He rents a room from Anselmo Paleari, an old eccentric who is fond of spiritualism. Mattia is imbued with great sympathy for his youngest daughter Adriana - a modest kind girl, honest and decent. Adriana's son-in-law Terenzio Papiano, after the death of his sister Adriana, must return the dowry to Anselmo, since his wife died childless. He asked Anselmo for a delay and wants to marry Adriana so as not to return the money. But Adriana is afraid and hates her rude, prudent son-in-law, she falls in love with Mattia Pascal. Papiano is sure that Mattia is rich and wants to introduce him to an enviable bride, Pepita Pantogada, in order to distract him from Adriana. He invites Pepita to Anselmo for a séance. Pepita arrives with her governess and the Spanish painter Bernaldes.

During a séance, in which all the inhabitants of the house take part, twelve thousand lire disappear from Mattia's locker. Only Papiano could steal them.

Adriana offers Mattia to report to the police, but he cannot report the theft - after all, he is a nobody, a living dead man. Nor can he marry Adrian, no matter how much he loves her, because he is married. To hush up the case, he prefers to lie, as if the money was found. In order not to torment Adriana, Mattia decides to behave in such a way that Adriana stops loving him. He wants to start courting Pepita Pantogada. But the jealous Bernaldes, whom Mattia accidentally offended, insults him, and the code of honor obliges Mattia to challenge Bernaldes to a duel. D Mattia cannot find seconds - it turns out that for this you need to follow a bunch of formalities, which cannot be done without documents.

Mattia sees that his second life has come to a standstill, and leaving his cane and hat on the bridge so that everyone would think that he had thrown himself into the water, he gets on the train and goes home.

From Adriano Meis, he only has a healthy eye: Mattia had an operation and no longer mows.

Arriving at home, Mattia first of all visits his brother Roberto. Roberto is shocked and does not believe his eyes. He tells Mattia that Romilda, after his imaginary suicide, married Pomino, but now her second marriage will be considered invalid by law, and she is obliged to return to Mattia. Mattia does not want this at all: Pomino and Romilda have a little daughter - why destroy their family happiness? Yes, he does not like Romilda. Pomino and Romilda are shocked and confused to see Mattia alive, after more than two years have passed since his disappearance. Mattia reassures them: he does not need anything from them.

On the street, no one recognizes Mattia Pascal: everyone considers him dead.

Mattia goes to the cemetery, finds the grave of an unknown person whom everyone took for him, reads the heartfelt inscription on the gravestone and puts flowers on the grave.

He settles in the house of his old aunt. From time to time he comes to the cemetery “to look at himself — dead and buried. Someone curious asks; “But who will you be to him?” In response, Mattia shrugs, squints, and replies: "I am the late Mattia Pascal."

With the help of Don Eligio, who replaced Mattia as curator of books at the Boccamaody Library, Mattia puts his strange story on paper in six months. In a conversation with Don Elijo, he says that he does not understand what morality can be extracted from it. But Don Eligio objects that there is undoubtedly a moral in this story, and this is what it is: “Outside of the established law, outside of those particular circumstances, joyful or sad, that make us ourselves ... it is impossible to live.”