In Search of Elena Ferrante

The Novels and the Question of Authorship


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About the Book

Elena Ferrante—named one of the 100 most influential people in 2016 by Time magazine—is best known for her Neapolitan novels, which explore such themes as the complexity of female friendship; the joys and constraints of motherhood; the impact of changing gender roles; the pervasiveness of male violence; the struggle for upward mobility; and the impact of the feminist movement. Ferrante’s three novellas encompass similar themes, focusing on moments of extreme tension in women’s lives.
This study analyzes the integration of political themes and feminist theory in Ferrante’s works, including men’s entrapment in a sexist script written for them from time immemorial. Her decision to write under a pseudonym is examined, along with speculation that Rome-based translator Anita Raja and her husband Domenico Starnone are coauthors of Ferrante’s books.

About the Author(s)

Karen Bojar is a professor emerita of English and women’s studies at the Community College of Philadelphia where she founded the women’s studies/gender studies program. She has written numerous books and articles on feminist literature and grassroots politics. She lives in Philadelphia.

Bibliographic Details

Karen Bojar
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7468-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3362-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 1
Introduction 5
1. Ferrante Fever 13
2. Who Is Elena Ferrante? Does It Matter? 23
3. Ann Goldstein and the Challenges of Translation 37
4. The Novellas 49
5. The Neapolitan Novels: Women’s Friendship 66
6. The Neapolitan Novels: Mothers and Daughters 83
7. The Neapolitan Novels: Love, Sex, Betrayal 94
8. The Neapolitan Novels: Violence and Masculinity 108
9. The Neapolitan Novels: The Climb Up the Class Ladder 121
10. Italy in the Years of Lead: Ferrante as Political Analyst 135
11. Ferrante as Feminist Theorist 150
12. Naples and the Camorra 168
Conclusion 184
Chapter Notes 191
Bibliography 205
Index 213