this is Ferrante Friday

From the wise and intelligent Elena Ferrante, whose Neapolitan novels were among my favorite books this year. Can't wait for the fourth (and final!) novel, which comes out next week.

(Note: I have never identified more strongly with a fictional narrator than I have with Lenu)

  • "It has always fascinated me how a story comes to us through the filter of a protagonist whose consciousness is limited, inadequate, shaped by the facts that she herself is recounting, though she doesn’t feel that way at all. My books are like that: the narrator must continually deal with situations, people, and events she doesn’t control, and which do not allow themselves to be told. I like stories in which the effort to reduce experience to story progressively undermines the confidence of she who is writing, her conviction that the means of expression at her disposal are adequate, and the conventions that at the start made her feel safe."

  • "In general, we store away our experiences and make use of timeworn phrases—nice, ready-made, reassuring stylizations that give us a sense of colloquial normality. But in this way, either knowingly or unknowingly, we reject everything that, to be said fully, would require effort and a torturous search for words. Honest writing forces itself to find words for those parts of our experience that is crouched and silent. On one hand, a good story—or to put it better, the kind of story I like best—narrates an experience—for example, friendship—following specific conventions that render it recognizable and riveting; on the other hand, it sporadically reveals the magma running beneath the pillars of convention. The fate of a story that tends towards truth by pushing stylizations to their limit depends on the extent to which the reader really wants to face up to herself."

  • "Abandonment corrodes those certainties within which we believed we lived safely. Not only have we been abandoned, but we may not hold up when faced with the loss; we abandon ourselves, we lose the consistency that we have gained via the sweet habit of entrusting ourselves to others. So, to get through it, you must find a new equilibrium while at the same time acknowledging a new fact—namely, that everything you have can be taken from you, and with it your will to live."

  • "I simply decided once and for all, over 20 years ago, to liberate myself from the anxiety of notoriety and the urge to be a part of that circle of successful people, those who believe they have won who-knows-what. This was an important step for me. Today I feel, thanks to this decision, that I have gained a space of my own, a space that is free, where I feel active and present. To relinquish it would be very painful."

(via Vanity Fair, pt 1 & pt 2)


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