Luigi Pirandello is best known in the English-speaking world for his radical challenge to traditional Western theatre with plays such as Six Characters in Search of an Author. But theatre is just one manifestation of his experiments with language which led to a remarkable collection of novels,short stories, and essays as well as his work for a film industry then in its infancy. This study, which is based on the view that Pirandello's writings are most fruitfully discussed in a European context, takes as its starting-point the author's belief in the primacy of the literary character in acreative process which is necessarily conflictual. The book argues that all Pirandello's characters are engaged in a continual performance which transcends the genre distinction between narrative and dramatic forms. In this performance it is the spoken word in which the characters invest most heavily as they struggle to sustain an identity of theirown, tell their life-stories, and assert themselves before their most prominent antagonist, the author himself.