1. to make a daring comparison between the notions of identity and subjectivity held by Italian modernist author Luigi Pirandello and contemporary American feminist theorist Judith Butler.
2. to use the insights generated by this unusual yet entirely tenable comparison to interpret the engagement of contemporary author Marosia Castaldi with the postmodern loss of identity.
3. to bring to light some thematic lines across the oeuvre of a writer noted for her highly fragmented and repetitive anti-realist style and impenetrable plots.
The article succeeds in bringing together Pirandello’s idea of identity as subjected to such dichotomies as life vs art-forma, flux vs fixity, uniqueness vs multiplicity with Butler’s account of identity and specifically gender identity as performativity. Both underscore identity/subjectivity as repetition and (re)citation, as mimetic acts subject to societal norms, and thus both ask whether and how change can be effected.
Applying these problematics to Castaldi turns out to be highly productive. I first identify a question running through her novels: what happens to identity when the individual is subjected to continual change? I then attempt to answer this question by examining her characters’ struggle against the dissolution of identity they experience as consequence of a life marked by cyclical successions of wars, migrations, cyclones, genocides, telluric movements and volcanic explosions. I conclude with looking at how they find ways of filling the identitarian void in the parodic performance of gender and identity.">