Elena Ferrante - The Neapolitan Novels

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Halfway through volume two (of three, although wiki is saying a fourth volume will be available in Italian by next year!!) and they are great.

Really a lot of praise seems to have been heaped upon vol.1 (My Brilliant Friend), but have there been any articles talking about what an achievement this appears to be? Maybe everyone is so busy w/Knausgaard or something..

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 5 October 2014 20:45 (eight years ago) link

I am curious but have never gotten around to read her. Still haven't gotten to Knausgaard either.

But am here to say: Good luck and Godspeed, you single author non-rolling thread!

You Better Go Ahn (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 5 October 2014 20:55 (eight years ago) link

- ok so now I started with this, compared to Knausgaard and in terms of writing this is purely conventional. The first chapter gives 'the ending', so I expect when this does end at whatever volume it will have that circular structure.
- Similarly I've been spending time w/Doris Lessing so the various pains and resentments and costs that come w/women having children -- because of what it doesn't allow women to pursue if they want to explore whatever there is to life (and the cost of the flipside of that -- to choose not to have them -- seems to be talked about not only in this trilogy but also in her other, smaller, works, only one of which I've read, but its a clear preoccupation).
- Love that almost nothing is known about Ferrante (if -- a big IF -- she is a man as it has been claimed then forget Knausgaard or anybody in the history of literature because no man can surely write with this level of sensitivity about women; maybe they could, but I'll stop from speculating as to what the requirements for that might be) because you wonder how much she knows from experience of her circle or what. The stuff on the working class -- this whole series is about the lives of two girls who start of as best friends, one of whom seems to escape her fate by education, another who is smarter but cannot make it as she is in the process of being ground down -- the creative and destructive energies in Lila, the resentment provoked by education or lack of...I mean, a lot of that has been dramatized in yer kitchen sink dramas, but I can't remember the last time I've seen it so skillfully interwoven. I think its also too humble to be all epic like despite it having soap operatic elements.
- So an example of that skill for me -- and why I choose to get this into a thread -- is the level of quarreling in this family. Its a sheer hell, but very sober, its what they do and how they work through their day-to-day problems, but it doesn't allow Lila the time to think and escape, or explore her creative energies. At first I thought this is too much repetition, but actually on the bus on the way home just now I thought actually we need to feel some of that pain.
- but then escape to what? Elena (also the name of the narrator) seems to be working her way to becoming an academic, and I don't need to go on about what a fantastic thing that is...they are 17 or so at the moment so there is a while to go for that.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 5 October 2014 21:10 (eight years ago) link

xp

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 5 October 2014 21:11 (eight years ago) link

Bought a copy of Days of Abandonment when I thought I was going to read all the Europa Editions, but never got round. If you are going to the trouble to start a thread maybe I will download an esample of My Brilliant Friend, which ebook is actually pretty cheap since it is the first in the series.

You Better Go Ahn (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 5 October 2014 21:37 (eight years ago) link

Ppl I know who are reading brill friend love it. My analysis of it thus far is that it's such a stupid title

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Sunday, 5 October 2014 21:50 (eight years ago) link

Agreed. But maybe something got lost in the translation? *ducks*

You Better Go Ahn (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 5 October 2014 22:02 (eight years ago) link

i read these recently but they didnt really leave me with much except a bad mood and feeling of not really measuring up

≖_≖ (Lamp), Sunday, 5 October 2014 22:16 (eight years ago) link

i read them around the same time i read 'native son' and so theyre linked in my memory they share this claustrophobic dissatisfaction that seemed total - 'my brilliant friend' just chokes everything else slowly

≖_≖ (Lamp), Sunday, 5 October 2014 22:20 (eight years ago) link

Really well put Lamp - just feel this is a *positive* in my book. Very hard to create that totality.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 6 October 2014 08:44 (eight years ago) link

Not sure I'll read the third volume just yet. Might want to read this with the 4th volume.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 6 October 2014 08:48 (eight years ago) link

three weeks pass...

(I have vol 3 on order from my library, can't wait)

re: that link. All I can say is: ILB ahead of the curve again.

So I liked this piece although I don't know about that Kafka comparison. Almost any novel with multiple four-dimensional expressions of self-disgust goes back to Kafka.

I wonder how it compares to those old De Beauvoir novels. I read a couple a long, long time ago and they didn't register with me. Probably because it wasn't the right age to be reading them, although my impression was that the voice was fairly pedestrian, but I'll need to read them.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 1 November 2014 11:00 (eight years ago) link

Couple of other things: I love how certain figures in Italian cultural history make an appearance in this. I mean it could be some of the 'weaker' scenes the piece talks about, like the talk w/Pasolini Lila and Nino try to go to. Sorta roughly thrown in but its so amusing to see.

I think its perfectly reasonable to think that Lila could've been a pop star. She is v punkoid. She (as conceived by Elena) is a hurricane of creative energy. She disrupts, says no, rebels, never forgets, you can physically beat her (although if you aren't careful she could knife you) but she'll pick herself up and try again. I don't believe this trilogy is 'an evolution' in her work. I have read a few of Ferrante's other books and the voice and authority and themes were fully formed (I can believe she probably was in her late 30s early 40s or older when she started writing) from pretty much day one. But in this series she is finding another framework, and it really is in the creation of Lila that she is finding that something extra and why these novels may endure.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 1 November 2014 11:18 (eight years ago) link

Guardian article was quite convincing.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 1 November 2014 12:21 (eight years ago) link

So far, I've liked all quotes from and descriptions of her novels. Where should we of slender means start, keeping in mind it might be just the one book for a while?

dow, Saturday, 1 November 2014 21:47 (eight years ago) link

I just paid $2.99 for the ebook of the first one, My Brilliant Friend. Read about 1/6, so far so good. Reminding me, in its cool, hardheaded appraising intelligence of Enfance, by Nathalie Sarraute.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 1 November 2014 21:49 (eight years ago) link

Seem to also recall enjoying another one of those Europa Editions featuring the same translator, but can't remember exactly which.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 1 November 2014 22:05 (eight years ago) link

This one: http://www.europaeditions.com/book.php?Id=36

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 1 November 2014 22:07 (eight years ago) link

Also, her page over there says:
http://www.europaeditions.com/author.php?Id=17

She received a PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. She is currently editing the complete works of Primo Levi, for which she received a Guggenheim Translation fellowship.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 1 November 2014 22:12 (eight years ago) link

Reached Adolescence last night. Loved the part about studying for the Latin test,to pick only one thing.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 2 November 2014 13:29 (eight years ago) link

If I find paper copy of Days of Abandonment I can mail it to you, don.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 2 November 2014 21:46 (eight years ago) link

Thanks! But I think I should start w My Brilliant Friend, based on descriptions. 'Bout to order it

dow, Sunday, 2 November 2014 22:00 (eight years ago) link

...thus continuing under the banner with a soup-stained device: "One book by everybody."

dow, Sunday, 2 November 2014 22:06 (eight years ago) link

lol.

About 2/3 of the way through that one now.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 2 November 2014 22:13 (eight years ago) link

After I'm done with this, wondering if I should start on the second one or finally get around to Knausgård.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 2 November 2014 23:05 (eight years ago) link

Above placed here for future reference, skimmed the beginning very briefly.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 November 2014 00:36 (eight years ago) link

Wow. Didn't see it coming. On to the next one, I guess.

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 November 2014 03:00 (eight years ago) link

99p on kindle at the moment.

woof, Monday, 3 November 2014 11:46 (eight years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Friend of mine is on the third one. Says she wants to go to Naples to eat, same as Camilleri made her want to go to Sicily. Me, I still have to make some headway into the second one.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 17:19 (eight years ago) link

NYRB also gets busy on it.

The fourth book in the Naples series has just appeared in Italian and is scheduled to be published in English in November 2015

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 2 December 2014 19:52 (seven years ago) link

Wow, not going to read until I finish because spoilers.

Cutset Creator (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 2 December 2014 20:18 (seven years ago) link

Finished the third book last night. Now to wait a year to read the last of these. Roll on Nov '15.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 15 December 2014 12:04 (seven years ago) link

About 1/2 way through My Brilliant Friend, to where they (especially Lila) dance the new thing, the rock and roll, and there's a huge confrontation among the guys and all the girls defer bloody denouement by bursting into tears---even Lila does this, and even the narrator has ever seen her do this, so maybe even more huge. Love this:
I think its perfectly reasonable to think that Lila could've been a pop star. She is v punkoid. She (as conceived by Elena) is a hurricane of creative energy. She disrupts, says no, rebels, never forgets, you can physically beat her (although if you aren't careful she could knife you) but she'll pick herself up and try again. I don't believe this trilogy is 'an evolution' in her work. I have read a few of Ferrante's other books and the voice and authority and themes were fully formed (I can believe she probably was in her late 30s early 40s or older when she started writing) from pretty much day one. But in this series she is finding another framework, and it really is in the creation of Lila that she is finding that something extra and why these novels may endure.

― xyzzzz__, Saturday, November 1, 2014 6:18 AM (1 month ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink
Also, re "something extra," note the tough probing realism also leads to Lila's mention of her panicky visions of people places things (esp. the first) losing their borders, and her impressions of the street while flying out of the window via her father, and the narrator's own description of the waves, when first seeing the sea (via her own father, the one day they ever spent together, and free of their neighborhood selves' emotional stew).

dow, Monday, 15 December 2014 17:13 (seven years ago) link

"even the narrator has NEVER seen her do this," of course.

dow, Monday, 15 December 2014 17:14 (seven years ago) link

and the narrator's own description of the waves, when first seeing the sea

Yes I loved that scene. The NYRB review mentions it too.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 16 December 2014 00:21 (seven years ago) link

Making my way through Elsa Morante's Arturo's Island. Its a similarly brutal book. Can see what Ferrante took from her.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 28 December 2014 21:30 (seven years ago) link

Mentions her in the Q&A - which is great.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7f1c9ed4-4269-11e4-9818-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3NEM0bdQA

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 28 December 2014 21:34 (seven years ago) link

Struck by neither girl knowing about 30s-40s Italian history 'til Pasquale denounces Don Achille, and then is made to explain his terms---the girls are 12 then, I think, which would be 1956. Their official schooling includes Greek and Latin, and some ancient history, but nothing at all recent, it seems. (There are just a couple of hazy references in passing, to somebody older having been killed in an air raid, a kid who touched an unexploded bomb...) I was reminded of this when reading last weekend's WSJ book reviews, incl. quotes from The Third Tower, about visiting Fascist Italy, "an aesthete's paradise, " but also "The newspapers appear not to be written by journalists, but by celestial angels...a dying man's vision of heaven." This Never-Never Land leaves behind the shaky Now which the girls' older relatives and neighbors try to live in, as much as possible. A few people have tried to go forward, to expand their businesses, mainly, but mostly it hasn't worked out, so far. Even punky, too-smart-for-her-own-good Lila actually wants to stay in the neighborhood, to make it safer...but once she and the narrator learn to read and express themselves (to themselves, as well as others)in Italian, not just dialect, look out.

dow, Sunday, 28 December 2014 22:34 (seven years ago) link

There is another passing mention, of a name learned in school, Comandante or Commandante Somebody, who seems to be or to have been in charge of Naples or Italy (not Mussolini, but still with a military title)--again, just kind of a vestige.

dow, Sunday, 28 December 2014 22:53 (seven years ago) link

i read days of abandonment this spring and it was one of the best things i've ever read. this sounds dumb but it made me feel really strong emotions, just spending a week living every thought shudder and curse of a dejected wife and mother's lonely walks and paranoid screeds. the scene with the dog at the end is a masterpiece of building tension, almost unbearable at times, but i stayed up until like 4 am that night. i remember it as a sweaty, queasy, and unmistakably italian novel. bummed to hear that people aren't feeling this trilogy, but if it is anything like knausgaard then maybe it's nothing like abandonment because that book is the complete opposite of knaus

flopson, Monday, 5 January 2015 03:21 (seven years ago) link

Think most everybody on this thread enjoys the trilogy, and I'm looking fwd to Days

dow, Monday, 5 January 2015 05:12 (seven years ago) link

And everything else by her

dow, Monday, 5 January 2015 05:12 (seven years ago) link

sick. you're gonna love days, dow

flopson, Monday, 5 January 2015 16:07 (seven years ago) link

one month passes...

Even punky, too-smart-for-her-own good Lila actually wants to stay in the neighborhood, to make it safer...but once she and the narrator learn to read and express themselves (to themselves, as well as others) in Italian, not just dialect, look out Code-switch sparks already flying upward in first chapters of The Story of a New Name: even the title might be referring to this in one sense, switching from ref to fateful married-lady name. Lenu tries to say something conciliatory to her boyfriend, but it comes out in that there fancy-ass Italian, more salt in his wounds! While Lila spits the ghetto pepper at just the wrong moment, to just the wrong person----don't want to drop any spoilers--will note that her silence can be a problem too, and Lenu maybe for the first time specifically articulates something at least implied in the first volume: "The photographer had been fortunate. I felt that he had caught the force that Stefano had talked about; it was a force---I seemed to grasp---against which not even Lila could prevail."(Though obv. in some sense she does prevail. since the whole series begins, is provoked by, her 66-year-old punkoid acting out). Also, contemporary politics are just starting to get closer to young adults' POV, via possible or supposedly possible business deals.

dow, Friday, 6 February 2015 19:09 (seven years ago) link

Also, the Truth, via dirty dialect, can be too much, too lucid and too lurid to let yourself believe. Ditto even just the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face truth, in basic Italian or dialect: to the right person at the right moment, "You're just like your father"is an elephant tranquilizer.

dow, Tuesday, 10 February 2015 23:36 (seven years ago) link

I really 'preciate the fact that the author isn't playing any coy shell games re an Unreliable Narrator: right from the beginning of the first book, we know that she is recalling events filtered through decades, generations really, gradually reeling in the years, avoiding tangles with all the mad skills and gifts that she and Lina were born with and to, inextricably---the webs are deep enough, without any tangles. She's also (in case Lila's really finally pushed luck and everything else too far this time) recreating life in words vs. death---incl. "reducing it to words," as she describes Lila's own writing at one point, recreating violent crimes from newspapers, as a way of setting her own, then-currently plausible fears and speculations down in manageable containers. And/or revving herself up for whatever might be required to get Lila out of a jam one more time, or at least wrap her brain around it (figure that's the subject of the final volume, the English title of which will be The Story of The Lost Child, I think).
Also, she drawing on long-ago memorized pages from Lila's own notebooks, plus conversations with their other friends from childhood, whose further entanglements with L. developed while the narrator wasn't present. The differences/attachements between Lila, as the rest of the neighborhood calls her, and Lila, the side of her named that by the narrator alone. get more and more dynamic (aside from the very brought married name). And of course the narrator (who forthrightly acknowledges that her own voice as a writer always has notes of Lila is )named Elena, same as the pen name of the author, who seems to be cultivating, harvesting her own Lila-ness, the truth-bringing outsider, probably far beyond the career of the in-book Elena/Lenu. but we'll see(maybe schoolteaching, b-plus writer Elena Greco gets a creative breakthrough/bust-out best seller from her memoirs and the real Lila shows up again, and the narrator diligently inspects her for "you owe me" vibes)

dow, Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:14 (seven years ago) link

very *fraught* married name, that is.

dow, Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:16 (seven years ago) link

Also, speaking of suitable containers, and challenges, can see how wrangling 60s computers, another bit mentioned at the beginning of the series, will prove worthy, at least for a while: looks like Lila's punk spirit will go proto-cyberpunk, even got the grunge city surroundings of 80s per-se cyberpunk (although I can't help remembering "We would say study even when reading a science fiction novel"---zing, ouch! Have mercy, ladies)

dow, Thursday, 12 February 2015 00:24 (seven years ago) link

Henry James to thread

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 14:24 (eight months ago) link

It would probably be worth having a separate thread for this, it’s an interesting topic

mardheamac (gyac), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 14:33 (eight months ago) link

Henry James writes Henry James people, for me it's a bit like saying Damon Runyan writes realistic gangsters

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 14:44 (eight months ago) link

xpost Agree!

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 14:44 (eight months ago) link

Agree as a general principle, but I hate to deprive Isabel Archer and Kate Croy their femininity.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 14:49 (eight months ago) link

Henry James writes Henry James people, for me it's a bit like saying Damon Runyan writes realistic gangsters

― Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

I think this is quite a good comment -- it points to the fact that authors don't simply write 'authentic women' or 'authentic men', or whatever, but constructs from their own sometimes very particular imaginations. And the most relevant dividing line might then be not M / F but author / author.

So a lot of HJ women, for instance, likely have more in common with HJ males than they do with ... well, Ian Fleming women, to take what may be an extreme comparison.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 15:46 (eight months ago) link

It would probably be worth having a separate thread for this, it’s an interesting topic

― mardheamac (gyac), Wednesday, March 9, 2022

I think it is, and a very tricky topic, and one on which it's probably easy to say the wrong thing or cause offence in some way.

A founding notion for me is that I would not start out with the certainty that there is a given female POV or a male POV, which a given writer can then get wrong or right - these notions have to be proved. Others may differ.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 15:48 (eight months ago) link

I have a lot of opinions about this, if nobody else starts a thread in the next two hours I may have to.

mardheamac (gyac), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 15:55 (eight months ago) link

now I wonder what y'all think of Mr. Darcy, Dr. Lydgate, etc.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 16:08 (eight months ago) link

Another aspect of the issue is 'cognition bias' of some kind, possibly confirmation bias, ie ...

Almost every case of 'a woman writing a man', I know is a woman writing a man; and vice versa. I have very rarely been able to have a blind test on this. I haven't read 100 novels, without names or authorial genders attached, and guessed who wrote them. The information has always been baked in from the start. So do I really know what a 'woman's writing' feels like, in itself, separate from being told 'this piece of writing is by a woman' before I started reading it? No.

I think it is possible that in the case of such a blind test of 100 texts, many readers would not be able to tell the gender of the author. And this could well apply even if you threw in the additional factor under discussion, ie: gender X writes POV of gender Y.

And this is before you throw in another issue that I raised upthread, namely: if, hypothetically, there IS a way to write like a man, then a woman author of skill could learn what it is and execute it.

And all this is leaving aside the fact that gender itself is nowadays often discussed in more fluid terms than it used to be.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 16:11 (eight months ago) link

The tl;dr of this is that writing women by men is like anything else, if it’s invisible you’re doing well. There are weird edge cases like GRRM, where he writes a variety of women in interesting ways but then writes Dany thinking about the way her tits move around as she walks. Stephen King maybe a bit worse than GRRM on this. Then there’s authors where they write all people in a very cold, bloodless fashion such that the actual genders of the characters in question don’t matter.

Then you have the people who can’t write their own gender well. Damn.

mardheamac (gyac), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 16:17 (eight months ago) link

gender itself is nowadays often discussed in more fluid terms than it used to be

the other thing that gets into the discussion more than it used to is that gender is performed: by actual people out in the world and therefore also by the characters that (good) fiction writers create to represent them -- authenticity of gender as performed authenticity of gender as fictionally recreated performed authenticity of gender

mark s, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 16:34 (eight months ago) link

It is no woman’s writing. Although ladies have written histories, and travels, and warlike novels, to say nothing of books upon the different arts and sciences, no woman could have penned the “Autobiography of Jane Eyre.”

abcfsk, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 17:10 (eight months ago) link

anticipated by Orlando and the Nighttown section of Ulysses

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 17:10 (eight months ago) link

xpost

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 17:11 (eight months ago) link

Thread up, am grateful for your contributions (please paste over if you like!)

mardheamac (gyac), Wednesday, 9 March 2022 17:18 (eight months ago) link

i guess i'm arguing it's anticipated by the entire history of good fiction, with critical discourse only more recently catching on with any great energy

and even then there were critics onto the idea an age ago (like oscar wilde, for example)

mark s, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 17:23 (eight months ago) link

Ferrante has written a lot of non-fiction pieces and most of them are about the experience of being a female creative, writer, female writers through history, women writers and the shield of anonymity and so on. It would actually be kind of weird if she wasn't a woman. And there's never been a compelling reason to believe she isn't.

― abcfsk, Tuesday, 8 March 2022 bookmarkflaglink

I am more of the view that this is a collaboration, as far as the fiction goes. Don't know if this is the case for these non-fictional pieces, though the series Ferrante did for The Guardian was slight and ended after a while.

There is a lot of investment on her anonymity as a woman who writes that has been placed by others, so if it ever turns out that it was a collab I wonder as to whether there would be a sense of people being played with.

So when reading Ferrante alongside Starnone I was thinking it could be to the benefit of both.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 9 March 2022 22:31 (eight months ago) link

don't know about all of this but am taken aback by your insistence that this was a collaboration, that a man had to be involved in her success as a writer

Dan S, Thursday, 10 March 2022 02:21 (eight months ago) link

I don't really read xyzzz's posts like that. More like: a) I have read Starnone, it's similar to Ferrante; b) Ferrante has been linked to Anita Raja; c)Raja and Starnone are married; d)it's hardly unknown for married people to collaborate on things.

Zelda Zonk, Thursday, 10 March 2022 02:37 (eight months ago) link

i for one am taken aback by the assertion that a collaboration necessarily involves a man

towards fungal computer (harbl), Thursday, 10 March 2022 02:41 (eight months ago) link

Long piece that makes the case for Ferrante being either Starnone alone or Starnone and Raja in collaboration: https://lithub.com/have-italian-scholars-figured-out-the-identity-of-elena-ferrante/

Zelda Zonk, Thursday, 10 March 2022 03:07 (eight months ago) link

I hadn't thought of it being Raja and someone other than Starnone---another woman, maybe?
Was thinking of science fiction writer Lewis Padgett, AKA Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, who are also thought to have contributed to some of each other's stories published under their own names.Judging by those, Moore likely was the one who took Padgett stories higher and deeper, while the generally quite capable Kuttner was the relatively dry, ground level structure guy.
I tried Googling this, but Moore and Kuttner are the only ones I knew:
https://www.google.com/search?q=husband+and+wife+writing+team+under+pen+name&ei=uWopYpO7GIHK_Qb77q3ADg&oq=husband+and+wife+writing+team+under+pen&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAEYADIFCCEQoAEyBQghEKABMgUIIRCgATIFCCEQoAE6BwgAEEcQsAM6BggAEBYQHjoICCEQFhAdEB5KBAhBGABKBAhGGABQ3xBY63hg9o8BaAJwAXgAgAG1AYgBvwmSAQM0LjeYAQCgAQHIAQjAAQE&sclient=gws-wiz

dow, Thursday, 10 March 2022 03:29 (eight months ago) link

(I haven't read nearly all works under those names, but so far seems like Moore was at her amazing best publishing as herself.)

dow, Thursday, 10 March 2022 03:32 (eight months ago) link

twist ending where it turns out that Raja wrote the Ferrante novels alone, the novels published under Starnone's name were collaborations between him and Raja, hence the similarities

soref, Thursday, 10 March 2022 09:36 (eight months ago) link

Long piece that makes the case for Ferrante being either Starnone alone or Starnone and Raja in collaboration: https://lithub.com/have-italian-scholars-figured-out-the-identity-of-elena-ferrante/

― Zelda Zonk, Thursday, 10 March 2022 bookmarkflaglink

Thanks for that piece, it was good to see a digestible write-up of those linguistic comparisons I've heard about.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 10 March 2022 10:08 (eight months ago) link

If Starnone could write like Ferrante/Raja I guess I just don't get why he would write like Starnone

but that's just me, found Lacci very inferior to any Ferrante

corrs unplugged, Thursday, 10 March 2022 15:45 (eight months ago) link

or well at least any recent Ferrante, will admit it took her sometime to master her craft

corrs unplugged, Thursday, 10 March 2022 15:46 (eight months ago) link

The novels pre-quartet are best. Ferrante then departs from that, and it's good...but where both Starnone and Ferrante achieve a mind-meld is in the middle.

Though all of this is based on one Starnone novel, need to read more.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 10 March 2022 16:18 (eight months ago) link

in the middle of what?

dow, Thursday, 10 March 2022 19:30 (eight months ago) link

Of her career as a novelist.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 10 March 2022 21:14 (eight months ago) link

In The Margins, out today---have any of these essays already been published? Looks appealing, but seems like a lot of you were disappointed by the collection of her columns.
From Europa Editions announcement:
Here, in these four crisp essays, Ferrante offers a rare look at the origins of her literary powers. She writes about her influences, her struggles, and her formation as both a reader and a writer; she describes the perils of “bad language” and suggests ways in which it has long excluded women’s truth; she proposes a choral fusion of feminine talent as she brilliantly discourses on the work of Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Ingeborg Bachmann, and many others.
Here is a subtle yet candid book by “one of the great novelists of our time” about adventures in literature, both in and out of the margins.

dow, Wednesday, 16 March 2022 01:47 (eight months ago) link

guessing a lot already released in Frantugmalia, but that's huge

the columns were not bad, but they were just columns

really I come for the novels

corrs unplugged, Thursday, 17 March 2022 08:25 (eight months ago) link

I find the Lithub piece pretty unpersuasive - seems like litfic pizzagate to me. "If Starnone could write like Ferrante/Raja I guess I just don't get why he would write like Starnone" seems otm.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 17 March 2022 13:54 (eight months ago) link

Lol pizzagate is a bit strong

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 17 March 2022 16:44 (eight months ago) link

Stuff like this just seems... silly?

Georgios Mikros from Athens University, for example, used the textual corpus to train a machine-learning algorithm to profile authors (that is, identify their gender, age, and provenance) with a high degree of accuracy. This algorithm concluded that the person behind Elena Ferrante was a male over 60 years old from the region of Campania.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 17 March 2022 20:42 (eight months ago) link

There was another long piece in (I think) the NYRB that linked Ferrante to Raja not through computational analysis of writing styles but by following a money trail from Ferrante's publisher to Raja. But as the Ferrante novels are so Naples-specific, and Raja was brought up in Rome not Naples, it seems pretty likely that even if Starnone is not the primary author, he at least has some input.

Zelda Zonk, Thursday, 17 March 2022 22:33 (eight months ago) link

Judith Thurman summarized it in The New Yorker:

In 2016, Claudio Gatti, an investigative journalist for Il Sole 24 Ore, a business newspaper, claimed to have unmasked her. He had hacked into the royalty statements of Ferrante’s Italian publisher, Edizioni E/O, a small house to which she has been loyal. Inexplicably vast sums, he discovered, had been paid to the account of Anita Raja, a translator from the German and an E/O stalwart. Raja, who is sixty-seven, was born in Naples, her father’s native city, but grew up in Rome; her mother was a Polish Jew who had escaped the Holocaust. If she has published fiction,he has never signed any. But her husband, Domenico Starnone, is one of Italy’s most prominent men of letters, whose best-known work is set in Naples, where he was born into the same generation and class as Lenù and Lila. He has vehemently denied having written or co-written Ferrante’s novels. Yet if their author is a man he has pulled off one of the most improbable—not to mention galling—impersonations in the annals of fiction. So that makes the idea of collaboration seem plausible, and I can imagine him Naples-izing her ideas, also maybe applying his pre-existing skills, which work better, maybe, with her leading the way, or just in the back-and-forth.
But also: maybe she's taking the money to someone else, the true collaborator with Starnone, or other(s).

dow, Friday, 18 March 2022 01:42 (eight months ago) link


I tried Googling this, but Moore and Kuttner are the only ones I knew:


Elizabeth Jane Howard and Kingsley Amis used to write sections of the each other’s novels to see whether anyone noticed.

In fact, in a slightly different scenario, Elizabeth Jane Howard and her then partner Robert Aickman also wrote three stories each without attribution for their supernatural collection We Are For the Dark. These stories helped coin the description “Aickmanesque” for that particular style of “strangeness”, but this substantially undervalues EJH’s formative role.

Fizzles, Friday, 18 March 2022 07:32 (eight months ago) link

Nicci French (domestic thrillers) is a husband and wife team

Zelda Zonk, Friday, 18 March 2022 08:02 (eight months ago) link

TIL!

wins, Friday, 18 March 2022 08:19 (eight months ago) link

Stuff like this just seems... silly?

Georgios Mikros from Athens University, for example, used the textual corpus to train a machine-learning algorithm to profile authors (that is, identify their gender, age, and provenance) with a high degree of accuracy. This algorithm concluded that the person behind Elena Ferrante was a male over 60 years old from the region of Campania.
― Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 17 March 2022 bookmarkflaglink

Do you think questions like 'Was Homer the author of both Iliad and The Odyssey?' are silly?

I know that isn't in the same ballpark but some people have a curiosity about the people they are reading. And if it turns out Ferrante isn't quite what it's claimed people will be pissed off about it.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 18 March 2022 12:43 (eight months ago) link

I guess for me, there is a big leap from "X is similar to Y" to "X contributes to Y" or "X is Y".

There are so many ways a couple can influence each other's writing: sentence style, editing style, sense of humour, history, likes, kinks, pecadilloes, etc. This is normal. The Ferrante issue seems wedded to rather old-fashioned sexist assumptions about female authorship (also a problem for female musicians, sports people, scientists...) and the equally questionable idea that appropriating stories from other people's lives somehow lessens you as an author.

There's no gender/authorship issue in Homer AFAIK

Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 18 March 2022 13:02 (eight months ago) link

Funnily enough there is.

https://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/authoress-odyssey-1897

the pinefox, Friday, 18 March 2022 13:10 (eight months ago) link

"and the equally questionable idea that appropriating stories from other people's lives somehow lessens you as an author."

iirc I don't think -- in that lithub piece, anyway -- there was an attempt to lessen Ferrante. You could argue this kind of thing could enrich.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 18 March 2022 13:20 (eight months ago) link

"to train a machine-learning algorithm to profile authors"

the desire to know more abt an author isn't silly but the idea that this kind of phrenology-by-robots is any use *is* p silly: it's crappier and more speculative than most forensic and profiling cop science, and we now know that most forensic and profiling cop science is also garbage (up to and including fingerprints)

plus it's done by robots! famously not good at reading novels well imo

mark s, Friday, 18 March 2022 13:25 (eight months ago) link

Funnily enough there is.

https://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/authoress-odyssey-1897

ha! that is great

Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 18 March 2022 13:28 (eight months ago) link

xposts

Re: appropriating, I guess it's the assumption that an author has to have lived through something (e.g. been raised in, as opposed to just being born in, Naples) to write about it. And therefore anyone who *has* been raised in Napes (conveniently a dude) must QED have written the book or part of it

Chuck_Tatum, Friday, 18 March 2022 13:32 (eight months ago) link

plus it's done by robots! famously not good at reading novels well imo

― mark s, Friday, 18 March 2022 bookmarkflaglink

Don't think the robot is reading a novel. The lithub piece describes a study where they look at phrases from Ferrante against author a, b, c etc. This analysis took out everyone except Starnone.

There was then a horrible tabloidy investigation years later that pointed to Raja, who is married to Starnone. So in this case it looks like the robot did its job.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 18 March 2022 14:11 (eight months ago) link

I could see how some readers would find it galling, as xp Thurman says, if Ferrante turned out to be a male author with no female input, although of course Raja could be giving him all manner of feedback, guidance, notes, without having the final say, putting down phrases in analyzable way----but I'm always more interested in what's on the page or other medium (controversies in music and visual arts too)

dow, Friday, 18 March 2022 18:24 (eight months ago) link


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