No apology is necessary for offering to American readers a play which critics, with singular unanimity, have called one of the most original productions seen on the modern stage. In less than a year's time, "Six Characters in Search of an Author" has won a distinguished place in the dramatic literature of the Western world, attracting audiences and engaging intellects far removed from the particular influences which made of it a season's sensation in Italy.
Yet the word "original" is not enough, unless we embrace under that characterization qualities far richer than those normally credited to the "trick" play. The "Six Characters" is something more than an unusually ingenious variation of the "play within a play." It is something more than a new twist given to the "dream character" made familiar by the contemporary Italian grotesques. It is a dramatization of the artistic process itself, in relation to the problem of reality and unreality which has engaged Pirandello in one way or another for more than twenty years.
I venture to insist upon this point as against those observers who have tried to see in the "Six Characters" an ironical satire of the commercial drama, as we know it today, mixed, more or less artificially, with a rather obvious philosophy of neo-idealism. No such mixture exists. The blend is organic. The object of Pirandello's bitter irony is not the stage-manager, nor the theatrical producer, nor even the dramatic critic: it is the dramatist; it is the artist; it is, in the end, life itself.
I suppose the human soul presents no mysteries to those . . .