The only thing I can say is that this fact of anonymity gives her the opportunity to be much more sincere, much more profound, much more risk bearing.
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At first glance, it would seem that there are no two writers who could be more different from one another than Ferrante and Saviano, who seemed linked only by the fact that both are from the region around Naples. Topics Elena Ferrante The Observer.
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Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Most popular. But Ferrante's characters — especially the flinty, talismanic Lila — are so comprehensively imagined that they must, you feel, reflect something essentially autobiographical, something profoundly true , on the part of the author. So I get to Naples.
I've just read book four, I've just read Gatti's article. I ask a few cab drivers: they won't take us to that part of town. Then I try some tour agents — they all refuse as well. One of them even specialises in Elena Ferrante tours, but it turns out on further inquiry that they just go to the upmarket Piazza dei Martiri where the characters go shopping when they've got some money and the historical centre.
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We walk through the tunnel that marked the edge of the girls' world, where some of the lights have been smashed, the better to mug people walking back home from the nearest metro station. We walk by the school, where year-old Laura had to fend off knife crime from year-olds who had been held back so many times they were sitting right next to her in class. We creep into the courtyard where Lila's apartment is set and where, locals are convinced, from cross-referencing details in a variety of books and articles, Ferrante herself once lived. Ferrante's old apartment. But of course, Elena Greco is not Elena Ferrante.
It's always an effort to remember that, because that's the conceit that the books are selling: an author called Elena writing a narrator who is an author called Elena.
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Draw your own conclusions, they suggest. And yeah, they must surely contain lots that is true, like all good fiction does. But reading these books is such an overwhelming experience that the slightest retreat from autobiography starts to feel almost unacceptable: OK, OK, maybe you've reordered events a bit, drawn out a couple of poetic coincidences, conflated a couple of minor characters here and there — but the essentials are true, right?
You really grew up like this, didn't you? There's a real Lila out there somewhere…yes? The Bar Parisi, the assumed original of the Solaras' bar The idea that the author could be in here somewhere, waiting to be found, is helped along by the books' constant theme of authorship and unstable identities. We don't know who wrote what, only that both Elena and Lina have been writing something; Elena worries that Lina has quasi-mystically entered into her computer to tell her story her own way; then she denies it.
Even their daughters are mistaken for each other, misidentified. And Lina is further refracted into their friend Alfonso, who looks like her and starts to dress like her, too. At times, Lina the character seems to recognise her own fluidity. She talks about disappearing, about erasing herself; she does in fact vanish without trace. Actually, the area is a lot like parts of Livingston, where my wife grew up; it's like run-down, neglected suburbs in a lot of cities. To elevate this kind of urban wasteland into something transcendent seems like a heroic feat — it suddenly reminds me a bit of what Alan Moore did with Northampton, though it's even more impressive because there are no forgotten historical riches underlying the Rione Luzzatti — it's just stark, rationalist housing, built by Fascists, and subsequently ignored.
Until Ferrante. But again I check myself immediately. I'm constructing my own emotional story of what Ferrante did, the same way all readers of these books do. How much difference would it make if that isn't her apartment, if she grew up miles away in Rome, if her husband was the one with the Neapolitan childhood, the dialect? If it was all a brilliant fabrication?
What would that do to our experience of the books? Hannah nods. But all morning we stare at every old woman we pass, searching for Lila Cerullo's face. View all 17 comments. Aug 25, Michael Finocchiaro rated it it was amazing Shelves: italianst-c , fiction , novels , series , favorites. I mean really, after finishing Ferrante's riveting tetralogy, I feel a sense of loss. The fourth volume was fast-paced and full of reveals no spoilers! It was hard to read at several points, but always entertaining and thought provoking. If you have not read it yet, please do so this year. Definitely a journey to Naples that you do not want to miss.
One thing that struck me with this series is the similarities and differences with another classic story which crosses four decades in as many books: the Rabbit Tetralogy by John Updike. I have reviewed all four Rabbit books here in GR, but if you are not familiar with them, Updike follows Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom from the 50s to the 80s with one book per decade.
The Ferrante series is similar even if the boundaries are not drawn as clearly between books as in Updike and covers roughly the same period as the Neapolitan series. Similarly, the character of Rabbit is deeply developed like that of Lena and Lila. Where Rabbit is quintessentially American in his own unique and depraved way, Lena and Lila are quintessentially Neapolitan.
I think that rural Pennsylvania and metropolitan Naples are quite different geographically, but both serve as a evolving canvas backdrops upon which the central dramas play out. I just think that if you read the Updike books, you'd probably enjoy the Ferrante ones and vice versa in terms of a look a slice of life from the middle to the end of the 20th century seen on two different continents and from the perspective of the two sexes.
Further, the disappearance of Tina for which I enjoyed the ambiguity, almost dreamlike, in not knowing definitively her fate was also a beautiful allegory for the lost innocence and sanity to a degree?
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In all four books, it was wonderful to feel Naples like a character in the book much like Paris in L'Education Sentimental. The city evolves around them in colors, smells, and great differences in wealth and power. There is a Proustian feel to Ferrante's writing, although as one of my friends pointed out, the male characters Enzo, Piero, Nino, etc here are not as three-dimensional as the female characters whereas in La Recherche, Odille, Gilberte, and Albertine are all much more profound.
But still there is a nice on-ne-sais-quoi in her phrasing, her descriptions, and her unique female sensibility that lends a limpidity and beauty to her prose that is just so pleasurable to read. There is a terrible sense of loss once you reach the last line of the last volume of Ferrante's saga, her writing is so addictive, it has kept me company for over a year now and waiting for the next installment of the story has been a delightful suspense.
I feel abandoned to my own device now that the curtain fell on this wonderful story. The last volume "La bambina Perduta" has just been published in Italy,so I've devoured it in three days and it's not a disappointment. It has a somehow slow sta There is a terrible sense of loss once you reach the last line of the last volume of Ferrante's saga, her writing is so addictive, it has kept me company for over a year now and waiting for the next installment of the story has been a delightful suspense.
It has a somehow slow start, with a tremendous and unexpected twist that comes as a blow half way through the book. Her writing keeps digging, like a furious fox terrier the depths and the folds of the relationship between Lena and Lila. This writer has a ferocity and a depth that I've rarely encountered. View all 15 comments. Apr 20, Nayra.