Why You Should Embrace Being A Nobody

by J. Maureen Henderson

One of the biggest literary stories of the year has centered around Elena Ferrante, the Italian novelist who released the final installment in her popular Neapolitan series this past September. The catch? Elena Ferrante is a pen name and the true identity of the author behind the books beloved by critics and readers alike is a mystery. In an interview with Vanity Fair, the publicity-averse novelist addresses the speculation about her identity. For her, the work she pens speaks for itself and would not be strengthened by personal notoriety. Deliberately choosing to be an enigma has given her unprecedented creative freedom:

“Indeed, I have my private life and as far as my public life goes I am fully represented by my books. My choice was something different. 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,” she says.