Elena Ferrante’s Key Words

Europa. 2019. 310p. ISBN 9781609455637. pap. $18. LIT
Since the release of 2012’s My Brilliant Friend, the first in Elena Ferrante’s sensational “Neapolitan Quartet,” millions of readers worldwide have gravitated to her stories, whose universal themes of “survival, alienation and inclusion, female difference and national identity” continue to resonate today. Drawing on Ferrante’s earlier novels, Troubling Love (1992), The Days of Abandonment (2002), and The Lost Daughter (2006) in context of the Quartet and the friendship between young Elena and Lila, who come of age in working-class, postwar Naples, de Rogatis (comparative literature, Univ. of Foreigners of Siena) presents close readings of these stories that “speak to the margins” to uncover “a new form of female identity,” revealing through the plights of Ferrante’s characters, and their creative partnerships, how their differing points of view somehow “never become locked within a formula that makes one the opposite of the other.”
VERDICT An exceptional companion to the source material, particularly for the lit-crit crowd looking to affirm Ferrante’s reinvention of the future of the novel. [Note: Beginning in Feb. 2020, HBO continues its popular miniseries adapting the “Neapolitan Novels,” now in its second season.

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