Tag Archives: Elena Ferrante

The need for love

The need for love is the central experience of our existence. However foolish it may seem, we feel truly alive only when we have an arrow in our side and that we drag around night and day, everywhere we go. The need for love sweeps away every other need and, on the other hand, motivates all our actions. Read Book 4 of the Aeneid. The construction of Carthage stops when Dido falls in love. . . .

Individuals and cities without love are a danger to themselves and others.

Elena Ferrante, Frantumaglia p72

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The power of what we forbid ourselves from telling

Often that which we are unable to tell ourselves coincides with that which we do not want to tell, and if a book offers us a portrait of those things, we feel annoyed, or resentful, because they are things we all know, but reading about them disturbs us. However, the opposite also happens. We are thrilled when fragments of reality become utterable.

Elena Ferrante (from here) 

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The most difficult things to tell

The writer  pushes ‘the protagonist much farther than I thought I myself, writing, could bear.

Leda says:” The most difficult things to tell are those which we ourselves can’t understand.”

It’s the motto — can I call it that?— which is at the root of all my books.

Writing should always take the most difficult path. The narrating “I” in my stories is never a voice giving a monologue; she is writing — that is, struggling to organize in a text what she knows but doesn’t have clear in her mind.’

Elena Ferrante, Frantumaglia: A  Writer’s Journey, p 257

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Literary truth

“Literary truth is much harder than that of the historian. It’s not based on fact-finding, on the research of documents, but on the audacity, recklessness, and effrontery of the person doing the telling … Fiction must express truths that are otherwise unspeakable. And it needs a tone that testifies with every word that invention is entirely unrelated to falsehood.”

“Literary truth is much harder than that of the historian. It’s not based on fact-finding, on the research of documents, but on the audacity, recklessness, and effrontery of the person doing the telling … Fiction must express truths that are otherwise unspeakable. And it needs a tone that testifies with every word that invention is entirely unrelated to falsehood.”

Jennifer Levasseur, Elena Ferrante: The mysterious Italian writer talks about her acclaimed novels The Age December 19, 2015

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On meeting the author

We tend to identify the author with the person who has written the book. It’s not like this. The author is the book, is the writing, coinciding with the whole range of techniques, expressive strategies, and linguistic material with which the author addresses the reader. The person who has created the writing is, beyond the writing, so redundant, so fragmented, that often she cannot account for the book other than in an approximate, changeable way, and is not even sure that she will know how to write another. When readers today think they are meeting the author, in reality they’re meeting a man or a woman, rich or poor in humanity, but who has already left the role of author. The author – and his capacity to develop the quality of the linguistic material to which he resorts – is present only in the works. Jennifer Levasseu interviews Elena Ferrante,

Elena Ferrante: The mysterious Italian writer talks about her acclaimed novels

The Age December 19, 2015 (from here) 

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The expression of rage

Since I had broken the cell phone, I went to a public phone and called the telephone company to resolve the problem. [the landline had been cut off]. I was assured that it would be taken care of as soon as possible. But the days passed, the telephone continued silent. I called again, I became furious, my voice trembled with rage. I explained my situation in a voice so aggressive that the employee was silent for a long time, then after consulting the computer told me that the telephone service had been suspended because of unpaid bills. I was enraged, I swore on my children that I had paid, I insulted them all, from the lowest workers to the chief executives, I spoke of Levantine laziness (I said just that), I emphasized the chronic inefficiency, the small and large corruptions of Italy, I shouted: you make me sick. Then I hung up and checked the receipts, and discovered that it really was true, I had forgotten to pay.

Elena Ferrante: The Days of Abandonment

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Literary truth

Question (Paris Review interviewer) : How do you define sincerity in literature?

Elena Ferrante: As far as I’m concerned, it’s the torment and, at the same time, the engine of every literary project. The most urgent question for a writer may seem to be, ‘ What experiences do I have as my material, what experiences do I feel able to narrate? But that’s not right. The more pressing question is, What is the word, what is the rhythm of the sentence, what tone best suits the things I know? Without the right word, without a long practice in putting them together, nothing comes out alive and true. It’s not enough to say, as we increasingly do, These events truly happened, it’s my real life, the names are the real ones, I’m describing the real places where the events occurred. If the writing is inadequate it can falsify the most honest biographical truths. Literary truth is not the truth of the biographer or the reporter, it’s not a police report or a sentence handed down by a court. It’s not even the plausibility of a well-constructed narrative. Literary truth is entirely a matter of wording and is directly proportional to the energy that one is able to impress on the sentence. And when it works, there is no stereotype or cliché of popular literature that resists it reanimates, revives, subjects everything to its needs.

Elena Ferrante, interview in The Paris Review, Spring 2015

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The unknown maker

‘I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t. . . . I very much love those mysterious volumes, both ancient and modern, that have no definite author but have had and continue to have an intense life of their own. They seem to me a sort of nighttime miracle, like the gifts of the Befana, which I waited for as a child. . . . True miracles are the ones whose makers will never be known. . . .’  Elena Ferrante, pseudonym for Italian author (more here)  and here

 

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