In this week’s Wednesday Five, we pay homage to our own popular series “Women Making a Difference” with stories that are getting lots of traffic around the web about five groundbreaking women of our time—Elena Ferrante, Steffi Graf, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, Oprah Winfrey, and Gloria Steinem.
1. Elena Ferrante
We’ve heard and sung the praises of Italian writer Elena Ferrante (a pen name) and her Neapolitan novels. Earlier this year, our Eleanor Foa Dienstag wrote about the author, “Ferrante’s extended narrative is not only a literary triumph, but a feminist one as well. Rarely, in contemporary fiction, do we find a sequence of novels whose main focus is the friendship—from childhood to middle age—of two women.” Now that “The Story of the Lost Child,” the final volume of the writer’s series is out, the praise has transitioned to a sophisticated critical analysis of what Ferrante has done for 21st century literature. Writing for the The New Yorker in the artilce, “Elena Ferrante’s New Book: Art Wins,” Joan Acocella writes, definitively:
This, Ferrante seems to say, is what happens in the world of women, and though much of the book is devoted to women’s more frequently discussed problems—such as how they are supposed to go out to work and raise the kids at the same time, and, if they do have work, work they care about, how come this still seems to them secondary to their relationship with a man?—it is the exploration of the women’s mental underworld that makes the book so singular an achievement in feminist literature; indeed, in all literature.