"With Other Eyes"
"Mrs. Frola and Mr. Ponza, her Son in Law"
I was recently kindly given an advance review copy of a forthcoming anthology of short stories by diverse authors, 100 Great Short Stories edited and introduced by James Daley. Included in the anthology were two short stories by the 1934 Nobel Prize Winner, Luigi Pirandello, a writer I have not yet read.
There is no date of publication or translation information in the collection, my best guess is they were written between 1922 to 1933 and were likely translated by Stanley Applebaum. (If you have information on this please leave a comment.)
Both stories are very good and both center partially on a dead wife. I will just post briefly on the stories. I could not find them online in English.
"Mrs. Frola and Mr. Ponza, her Son-in-Law" is a very funny quite intriguing story set in a small town in Italy. There is a big debate in the town over whether Mrs. Frola or her son-in-law Mr. Ponza is crazy. The plot is just so clever and well done. In Italian society when a man marries the daughter of a widow it was commonplace for the widow to live with the couple. Mr. Ponza instead maintains a seperate flat for his mother-in-law. The story turns on why he does this. Some say it is because the woman's daughter is dead and to shield her from learning this he keeps Mrs. Frola away, letting her occasionally visit and having his second wife pretend she is his dead wife. Some say Mr. Ponza does not know his wife is dead and Mrs. Frola goes along with it so Mr. Ponza will not be heartbroken.
Pirandello does a way better job than I just did of unwinding the story. Just a delight.
"With Other Eyes" opens with a second wife finding in her husband's chest of drawers a miniature picture of his dead first wife. At first she feels jealousy perhaps hatred for her. Then she thinks about how she died. Her husband found she had committed adultery and he coerced her into suicide. She begins to see her husband through the eyes of his first wife. This a very interesting psychologically perceptive story.
I liked both of these stories a lot and will hopefully read more Pirandello one day.