Elena Ferrante, grand entretien exclusif : “L’histoire de Lila et Lena est terminée”


Publié le 17 janvier 2018 à 17h02

Il aura fallu un seul livre pour qu’une romancière italienne, encore inconnue il y a sept ans, devienne l’une des personnalités les plus en vue de ce début de siècle. Un phénomène d’autant plus inouï s’agissant de l’auteur d’une fresque à l’ambition littéraire indéniable (et non d’un roman pour jeunes adultes comme naguère la série des «Harry Potter»), fresque dont les références nombreuses à l’histoire italienne et à l’ancrage géographique, limité pour partie à un quartier de Naples, semblaient condamner à l’avance tout succès à l’exportation. (…)

Derrière son masque, Elena Ferrante distille ses interventions avec une parcimonie d’apothicaire. Les entretiens qu’elle a donnés se comptent sur les doigts d’une seule main, entretiens qu’elle n’accepte de donner que par mail, son éditeur italien jouant les boîtes aux lettres. Son désir d’anonymat n’est, on l’a compris, pas négociable: pour elle, le livre une fois terminé doit se défendre seul. Brisant le silence qu’elle s’impose presque toujours, elle explique ici comment elle a conçu, dans le plus grand secret, «l’Amie prodigieuse».



Posted by Cat, Deputy Editor on January 01, 2018

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
There’s a good chance you’ve already received recommendations for Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet from gushy friends, fervent booksellers and rhapsodic librarians. So no more excuses: Read it now, because chances are, you’ll love every soapy Italian moment. Plus, Ferrante is handling the screenplay for HBO’s forthcoming adaptation, so your Neapolitan infatuation may continue indefinitely.

Iris Lilian

The Vacation Book List You Never Knew You Needed

4. Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

As you might know, Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym and there has been widespread speculation over who Ferrante really is, although she is widely believed to have been unmasked by the New York Review of Books in 2016, a move which was heavily criticised by Ferrante’s readers as unnecessary and an invasion of her privacy.

Days of Abandonment, published in Italian in 2002, predates her more famous books, the Neapolitan Novels. However, for me, it was the book that woke me up to her writing and led me to notice Italian writing.

In Days of Abandonment, Mario tells his wife Olga that he is leaving her. She soon finds out that he is living with his new girlfriend, a much younger woman. The book describes the days that follow Mario’s departure. It starts with Olga’s inability to comprehend that her husband, the father of her children, has ceased to love her.

Through the course of the book, Ferrante brilliantly portrays the frantic churning of an ‘abandoned’ woman’s mind. In fact, I found her writing so furious and unsettling that 50 pages or so in, I had to put the book away for a few days to see if I still wanted to read it. I did pick it up again.

This is not a long book, so it is a good one for a flight or to read in a day or two. (188 pp. Europa Editions)

World Literature Today

World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations of 2017

December 12, 2017
by Michelle Johnson

Elena Ferrante, Frantumaglia, trans. Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions)

Looking back on 2017, it’s easy to declare the year a success for literary translation, which continued to thrive and move in exciting new directions. Of note, Emily Wilson translated The Odyssey into English. The first woman to do so, she gave the “epic a radically contemporary voice.” Following up last year’s The Seamstress and the Wind, And Other Stories brought out three new English translations of César Aira’s work—no doubt pleasing Patti Smith and many other eager readers. And three new books about translation enriched the conversation: Kate Briggs’s This Little Art, Mireille Gansel’s Translation as Transhumance, and Into English: Poems, Translations, Commentaries, edited by Martha Collins and Kevin Prufer.

Resisting again the temptation to expand our list, we offer an admittedly incomplete collection of the year’s English translations and invite you to add your favorites in the comments. You can also share those you’re most eagerly anticipating in 2018 by using the hashtag #2018Reads on Twitter and Facebook. Are you looking forward to Aslı Erdoğan’s The Stone Building and Other Places? Or Julián Herbert’s Tomb Song? Dubravka Ugrešić’s Fox? Let us know.

Thank you for being in conversation with us this past year. We look forward to continuing to serve as your passport to great global reading in 2018.


La maternitat maligna d’Elena Ferrante


La filla fosca és una novel·la torbadora sobre la maternitat, no apte per a dones embarassades però de prescripció facultativa per a qualsevol home o dona, sobretot si té la intenció de ser mare.

Publicada a Navona per Pere Sureda (que ara s’acaba de destapar amb una nova traducció castellana d’El conde de Montecristo) aquesta és la tercera entrega de la trilogia Cròniques del mal d’amor d’Elena Ferrante, enigmàtica autora italiana més coneguda a casa nostra per la tetralogia que va arrencar amb L’amiga genial, publicada a La Campana. Navona també ha publicat separadament les tres novel·les que componen la trilogia, L’amor que molesta i Els dies de l’abandonament, totes esplèndidament traduïdes per Anna Carreras.

La filla fosca és una novel·la sobre la malignitat que pot arribar a niar en la maternitat. Escrita en primera persona, la protagonista, Leda, és una professora divorciada que decideix passar les vacances en un poblet de la costa del mar Jònic, on lloga un apartament minúscul tota sola després que les seves dues filles, ja adultes, hagin optat per abandonar-la i traslladar-se a viure amb el seu pare a Canadà. Leda és una persona amb una capacitat d’introspecció vertiginosa, i una necessitat d’autocontrol extrema, unes virtuts que no impedeixen que sovint prengui decisions dràstiques i irreparables.

Durant les seves vacances, Leda passa el dia a la platja, sense relacionar-se pràcticament amb ningú. Un bon dia entaula una relació amb una família sorollosa del sud. Segueix amb atenció els moviments de Nina, una dona atractiva, i la seva filla Elena, que tot el dia juga amb una nina. Leda mantindrà amb aquestes persones una relació en principi superficial, amb una complexa alternança de simpatia i antipatia. El contacte, intermitent, esdevindrà absorbent a partir del moment que, en un rampell inexplicable, Leda decideix robar la nina de la petita Elena.

No es tracta d’una nina qualsevol, sinó de la nina de la nina d’una família. Estem parlant d’aquell element que el psicoanalista Donald Winnicott va definir com a ‘objecte transicional’, que permet a l’infant confrontar l’angoixa que li comporta separar-se gradualment de la mare.

La filla fosca és també la història d’aquesta nina, una nina que es convertirà en un ostatge custodiat per Leda i que acabarà sent el detonant d’un conflicte que es manté latent al llarg de tota la novel·la. El segrest de la nina és l’expressió d’una maternitat robada, la que la mateixa Leda va robar a les seves pròpies filles i a ella mateixa el dia que va decidir abandonar-les.

Aquest rampell furtiu de robar una nina, que ella mateixa no s’acaba d’explicar, es converteix en el gest fundacional de la novel·la, el que destapa en el seu interior una llarga confessió que acaba imantant totes les èpoques de la seva vida. Ferrante fa un estudi psicològic d’una profunditat que ens devora. En una imatge torbadora, Leda descriu el seu segon part com una expulsió que és també una autoexpulsió. Ferrante explica de manera convicent com la maternitat pot fer sortir el pitjor de l’interior d’una dona. La descripció de l’experiència de la maternitat, lluny de tota idealització, és expremuda amb tota la complexitat per extreure’n el suc de la malignitat. Imprescindible.

Little Buddha Blog

My 2017 in Fiction. Neil Gaiman, Elena Ferrante, Graeme Simsion and others

Elena Ferrante – The Neapolitan Novels

Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym, not a real name. And that mystery brings up a lot of emotional discussions about the real person behind it and the nature of the books. Some think it’s an autobiography, some even argue that the writer is male, which I find hard to believe having read her books. But everybody agrees that once you start reading her Neapolitan Novels, it’s impossible to break away.

The beginning of the first book disappointed me as it is written in kind of a crude childish manner. The story is set in a poor and run-down neighbourhood of Naples, full of violence. Two friends, the schoolgirls Elena Greko and Lila Cerullo, dream, read books and plan their way out of this little and limited community,  they were born into.

The protagonist, Elena Greko, annoyed me all the way to the middle of the first book. She didn’t have any self-esteem, didn’t defend her personal borders, her best friend Lila manipulated her every way possible. But the style of storytelling changed as the heroines grew up and their view of the world developed. The deep voice and the great narration of Hilary Huber, reading the text of English translation of the novel, also dragged me in.

Only much later, when I read about the earthquake in Naples I realised why so many things in this book attracted me and pushed me away the same time. I saw the scenes of the earthquake for real – the crowds of people, the destruction, the overall life put to halt for a long time – I saw it all in Armenia when I was a little child. This whole environment in the book reminded me the small town in Armenia where I spent the first years of my childhood. I was lucky in a way. Having been born to an academic family, I didn’t have to fight for the right to get an education as Elena did. But a lot of the attributes of the environment seemed familiar either from my own memories or from stories told by my parents and relatives.

So the days passed, and I couldn’t get myself away from the audiobooks, listening every moment in the car, every second when my little one was asleep or played on his own on the playground. 4 books, almost 70 hours of audio, I fully immersed in the world of Elena and I realised, why it attracted so many readers. It shows naked feelings, feelings that hurt deeply and keep alive. The heroine has an amazing understanding of those feelings, her own and other people’s. She doubts herself all the time, but at the same time, she is brave enough to write about corruption and crime without having a second thought about the criminals who can recognise themselves in her writing.  I am sure, this book could be an excellent subject for a dissertation on shame and vulnerability if Brene Brown got to it. But I am also sure that it’s a book that you couldn’t stay indifferent to. You either love it or hate it.