Books I Love
The Story of a New Name March 28 2015, 0 Comments
"Partly because her work describes domestic experiences – such as vivid sexual jealousy and other forms of shame – that are underexplored in fiction, Ferrante’s reputation is soaring, especially among women (Zadie Smith, Mona Simpson and Jhumpa Lahiri are fans). Her writing has a powerful intimacy – as if her characters, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, are the lenses through which we read our own minds. The novelist Claire Messud emailed, “When you write to me and say you love her work, I have a moment where I think, ‘But … Elena is my friend! My private relationship with her, so intense and so true, is one that nobody else can fully know!’ It’s strange – and rare – to feel proprietary of a book, or a writer, in that way.”"
"In a 2003 written interview, Ferrante said, “The true reader, I think, searches not for the brittle face of the author in flesh and blood” but instead for “the naked physiognomy that remains in every effective word”. Whoever Ferrante is, in the novel she is free to invent, to fabricate, to play, to revisit old wounds, to be less than beautiful. This is what writing can do: create a space for the savage within, for the contradictory and the wild, and make it real. There may be no consolation except the art itself, but what a pleasure for those of us who get to read it. I would not want to forget what Ferrante herself so eloquently stated in one of her letters: the mystery of literature is in some ways its difference from the person who wrote it, the unfathomable effacement of self that leads to its creation."
Meghan O'Rourke in The Guardian
To create a space for the savage within, for the contradictory and the wild, and make it real.
I could not express what these Neapolitan novels do any better than Meghan O'Rourke does in her fiercely intelligent and perceptive review of Elena Ferrante's novels for the Guardian.
You will simply never experience women characters in this way anywhere else. You get to read and feel the female psyche with more vibrancy and complexity and beauty than you can ever hope to find in a literary work. And the novels never feel literary. The characters feel as if they are coming into being right in front of your eyes, sentence by sentence, page by page, in a electrifying mess of living matter.
One of the most thrilling reading experiences I've had in recent years.
Meghan O'Rourke's review can be read in full here: