♦ In each of the characters, the hero or the heroine is a multitude of layers, a vicissitude of emotions and a bundle of contradictions. That explains why not a single character in the series is flat – every one of them is a round-up of the good, the bad and also the ugly.
But then once you start reading Ferrante’s series, the story-teller’s gender becomes incidental as the plot gains control. Set in a 1950s Naples, the series marries the personal with the political, the ordinary and mundane (lives) with the extraordinary (ambitions and excitement) and the religious with the non-religious.
Told in the voice of Elena Greco, the heroine of the four novels, this is a kaleidoscope of emotions. And 50 pages into the first book – ‘My Brilliant Friend’ – one thing is clear: Ms. Ferrante has set the life code for cultures across the world to follow. While the world populace may not all be like the loud-mouthed, garrulous, PDA-loving, moody and temperamental Italians that her set of characters are, the emotions and intelligence that define their persona are certainly universal.
Cause Ferrante weaves the personal around the political – anti-Capitalism and Socialism – and the public. She conjoins love, of all kinds, a debilitating love (between Stefano and Lila), an unrequited one (for the longest time between one of the main characters, Lila, and her friend, Enzo), a political one between Nadia and Pasquale) and an unconditional one (between Elena Greco herself and the flamboyant, swashbuckling, rags-to-riches political upstart Nino Sarratore for long), giving each set of characters the context and circumstances to become the heroes and heroines of their sub-plots.
In each of the characters, the hero or the heroine is a multitude of layers, a vicissitude of emotions and a bundle of contradictions. That explains why not a single character in the series is flat – every one of them is a round-up of the good, the bad and also the ugly.
Unconditional love, beyond a point, is driven by vested interests: because there is so much that the heart can hold. Jilted love, at some point, gets over the immediate trauma but never the insecurities of a stray glance and the feeling of inadequacy. Similarly, infidelity, deceit and betrayal in each Ferrante character tries to seek solace in the fact that they have been the victims of circumstances and Fate, things that almost every one across the world believes in when life doesn’t go the scripted way.
But then what is life if it’s not trying to seek succour when hit by adversity?
And then while not every one that Ms. Ferrante created gets a happy ending, they all get their moment under the sun, in the black-and-White Arial font of the books. With her work being published in 39 countries and selling close to 900,000 copies in the U.S.and more than 300,000 in Britain and an Italian TV production company adapting the Neapolitan books into a 32-part series, there is no surprise that stories from the heart always find a way home, irrespective of geographical boundaries.
Cause difficult circumstances need slightly different storytellers!