Here we have the following excerpt from Pirandello's “Avvertenza sugli scrupoli della fantasia” (a critical essay that was appended to the second edition of “Il fu Mattia Pascal”). I am sorry the excerpt is rather long, but I think all of it is relevant:

A proposito della mia disumana e, pare, inguaribile « cerebralità » e paradossale inverosimiglianza delle mie favole e dei miei personaggi, egli [un critico] ha domandato a quegli altri critici donde attingevano il criterio per giudicare siffattamente il mondo della mia arte.

« Dalla cosiddetta vita normale? » ha domandato. « Ma cos’è questa se non un sistema di rapporti, che noi scegliamo nel caos degli eventi quotidiani e che arbitrariamente qualifichiamo normale? » Per concludere che « non si può giudicare il mondo d’un artista con un criterio di giudizio attinto altrove che da questo mondo medesimo ».

Debbo aggiungere, per dar credito a questo critico presso gli altri critici che nonostante questo, anzi proprio per questo, anch’egli poi giudica sfavorevolmente l’opera mia: perché gli pare, cioè, ch’io non sappia dar valore e senso universalmente umano alle mie favole e ai miei personaggi; tanto da lasciar perplesso chi deve giudicarli, se io non abbia inteso piuttosto limitarmi a riprodurre certi curiosi casi, certe particolarissime situazioni psicologiche.

Here is my attempt, how I understood the sentence, by guessing the meaning:

[…] He concluded “there is no way to judge the world made by an artist by any criterion that is not extracted from the same very world”.

I must add, to save the reputation of this critic in the eyes of the other critics, that in spite of this, or rather because of this, he, either, was not favourable of my work; because he thinks, that is, that I did not succeed in giving the meaning of universal humanity to my stories and to my characters; one might, then, wonder who would have to decide whether I was not, rather, intent on working within the limited scope of reproduction of certain curious events, certain very particular psychological situations.

I am rather sure that this is the meaning, because this way the argument sounds reasonable, and no other way of reading it that I could imagine sounds reasonable. If Pirandello had in fact no intention to limit himself by particular situations, then the answer to his question is too obvious & meaningless – whoever; so, I exclude this parsing. But I am confused by the grammar of the original sentence. I understand the whole, but I can't grasp the parts.

My question is: what is the object of the verb “giudicare”? The clitic pronoun “li” (“le mie favole e i miei personaggi”)? Or the clause that starts with “se” (“se io non abbia inteso …”), like I translated? Or (apparently!) both? But how is that possible? How to understand such grammar? Someone should have made a judgement both on the intentions of Pirandello and, at the same time, on the quality of his characters and situations? Or someone should have made a judgement on his intentions, using his characters as the evidence?

Also, I hope to be corrected if I did not get the meaning right. Maybe I am just looking in the wrong direction.


Your interpretation of the part in boldface is somewhat flawed.

“Se io non abbia...” depends on “lasciar perplesso”: “leave X puzzled, whether I...”, where X = “chi deve giudicarli” = “who has to judge them [= my fables and my characters]”.

“Se io etc.” is not the “object” of “giudicarli”; indeed, the – admittedly, involute – sentence would work equally well if you substitute X with, say, “tutti quanti”: “tanto da lasciar perplessi tutti quanti, se io non abbia...”.

So, a more correct translation would be along the lines of:

...tanto da lasciar perplesso chi deve giudicarli, se io non abbia inteso piuttosto limitarmi a riprodurre certi curiosi casi...

...so much so to leave puzzled those who have to judge them [my fables and my characters], about whether I rather meant to confine myself to reproduce some curious cases...

(My English is not perfect, but I hope the meaning is clear.)

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  • Thank you, that makes perfect sense now! So, chi deve giudcarli is the object of lasciar perplesso. – Wanderer Jul 4 '17 at 21:31

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