A very good paragraph and a half

by on August 29, 2015 at 3:06 pm in Books, Uncategorized | Permalink

Claire Messud on Elena Ferrante in the FT:

…the novelist remains true to her broadest undertaking: to write, with as much honesty as possible, the unadorned emotional truths of Elena Greco’s life, from timid peasant schoolgirl to respected literary icon, riven always between her origins and her ambitions, between her intellectual pursuits, her romantic desires, and her maternal responsibilities — always with Lila as her fractured mirror.

I’ve pressed Ferrante’s novels on friends with mixed results. Some fall upon the books with a familiar eagerness, but by no means all: one woman said, of My Brilliant Friend, “How’s it different from Judy Blume? Just girls getting their periods.” But I end up thinking that the people who don’t see Ferrante’s genius are those who can’t face her uncomfortable truths: that women’s friendships are as much about hatred as love; that our projections determine our stories as much as does any fact; that we carry our origins, indelibly, to our graves. To imbue fiction with the undiluted energy of life — to make of it not just words upon a page but a visceral force — is the greatest artistic achievement, worth more than any pretty sentences: Ferrante has done this, if not perfectly, then with a rare brilliance.

Here is a good review of Ferrante from The Economist.  As I’ve been saying for a while, this is one of the important literary projects over the last decade or more.  And of course we still don’t know who Elena Ferrante really is, her (his?) true identity remains a secret.  And here is the new Vanity Fair interview with Ferrante.

1 NPW August 29, 2015 at 4:59 pm

“women’s friendships are as much about hatred as love”


2 FC August 29, 2015 at 11:56 pm

Is Roosh writing for the Financial Times now?

3 Younghov83 August 29, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Just bought it. I love Italy and Italian women. How have I missed this.

4 drtomcor August 29, 2015 at 6:40 pm

50 pages into #3; have liked it a lot, some of those chicks make me horny. But #3 is navel gazing a bit too much for me. I really want more time with Lila if I could get it; we’d do all kinds of stuff together! She’s a puzzle in an enigma guys.

5 drtomcor August 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm

And if you could go back to then knowing what you know now, you would totally kick a–, and completely cop p—-.

Tyler, am I right?

6 Urstoff August 29, 2015 at 7:21 pm

I have never heard of these novels until Tyler mentioned them last week. What’s the deal here?

7 wwebd August 29, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Urstoff – they are prominently displayed in book stores. Author seems to have a good, in not a profound and happy, understanding of human relations, and is anonymous, and describes everyday life in a better than journalistic way, and we all know that journalists are respected, so better than-journalistic-descriptions are a limited good. Cover photographs are instantly iconic; from the point of view of publicity this cannot be stressed enough – the cover photographer seems to have found the Platonic happy ground between “beach read” cover photography and actual art. Can’t say much more than that, I generally don’t read cover-to-cover novels published less than 10 years ago, unless the novelist is a personal friend. My guess is that the author has the talent level of a Mediterranean Theodore Dreiser or a prosaic Boris Pasternak, but she happens to be an average Italian female in ways that are very interesting for the plot, and those people who are not already familiar with the treasures of Italian literature find that very interesting and very much worth talking about. Maybe they are right.

8 Peter Akuleyev August 31, 2015 at 2:18 am

In short, wweb is just blowing hot air out his arse.

9 wwebd August 31, 2015 at 8:36 am

Peter Akuleyev – why be a troll? You are better than that. I had more info than anyone else who had yet posted a comment, having read parts of the books, having read reviews of the books, having read an intense interview with the author about which I gave much thought, and I am familiar with the literary tradition in which the author is situated by the reviewers. Since I did not claim any more than that, your reply is rude; feel free to be rude again, or to leave an informed comment as to why I should or should not have posted, based on what I have just said. I feel no need for further reply, so say what you want.

10 wwebd September 1, 2015 at 12:19 am

Out of the tens of millions of internet comments published in the last 20 hours not one defends your insult. The sad thing for me, Sharkster (Pushkin and Shevchenko are no strangers to me) is that I have read many of your comments on other subjects and, when I saw your commenting name, I used to think I might learn something honest and useful. Oh well, one disappointment out of tens of millions of potential disappointments is not a big deal. By the way, I am glad you enjoyed Mrs. Esposito’s trilogy. Feel free to let loose with another random insult.

11 drtomcor August 29, 2015 at 9:34 pm

Thank you wweb, thank you. That confirms my take on these as well.

I hope Ray can compare them to his own experience

12 TallDave August 30, 2015 at 1:18 am

Finishing Wright’s Golden Age series for the second time, and, as science fiction is the preeminent literary form, and as those in sci-fi like science stand on the shoulders of giants, am now comfortable asserting that said series is the preeminent fictional work extant today.

Someday, something better will doubtless be written, but for now, nothing else is close.

13 Hoosier August 30, 2015 at 8:46 am

So, are you going to give Ferrante a try?

14 Younghov83 August 30, 2015 at 11:20 am

I’m pretty sure science fiction isn’t the preeminent form. 🙂

15 Adrian Ratnapala August 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Hoosier and Younghov83 might like The Last Ringbearer. It’s a fairly good Russian book about a heroic troll.

16 Hoosier August 31, 2015 at 11:27 am

It’s trolling to ask if you’re going to give a book a try? Tyler created this post because he obviously sees value in these novels or he wouldn’t be posting this.

I’m not a big science fiction fan but I’ll give the book tall Dave mentioned a try. Don’t understand the pushback here.

17 ThomasH August 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm

“The first reason is that zero short rates for so long might be encouraging excess risk-taking in the financial sector. This can be the “reach for yield” argument, which in spite of its lack of replicable econometric support commands a lot of loyalty from serious observers within the financial sector itself.”

This seems like a plausible concern, conceivably based on inside information, but if it is the financial community should be pushing for be pushing for greater regulation of risk taking such as higher capital requirements.

18 Carola Binder August 30, 2015 at 8:36 pm

I agree, these novels are a must-read. I read them over winter break while nursing my daughter in the middle of the night, which somehow added to the while mid of it. Even though I’ve never had a friendship anything like the main one in the books, it was totally captivating.

19 Carola Binder August 30, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Typo: “while mid” should be “whole mood”

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