Who are you, Elena Ferrante? “I’ve published seven books. Isn’t that sufficient?”


cover_frantumaglia_europa-lowElena Ferrante, author of Neopolitan Novels, guards her privacy zealously – in our intrusive age, who can blame her? She has claimed that “books, once they are written, have no need of their authors.” That hasn’t stopped repeated attempts to identify her. A few months ago, she was unmasked as the Rome-based translator Anita Raja. An earlier attempt this year tagged her as Neapolitan professor Marcella Marmo. Her website, anyway, is here

Who is she? Harper’s Magazine article assembled a sort of Q&A, taken from a collection of Ferrante’s papers that was published last month by Europa Editions as Frantumaglia. It’s here. Excerpt:

You could have the sort of fame that many people seek. Why have you chosen not to appear?

Freud tells of a woman who was afraid that someone would use her name to take possession of her personality. The woman began by refusing to write her name, and then she stopped writing completely. I am not at that point: I intend to continue to write. But when I read that story of illness it right away seemed meaningful.

Have you ever felt a surge of ego that made you want to throw open your window and cry, “It’s I who have created this world”?

My home is on the upper floors, I’m afraid of heights, and my ego gladly avoids leaning out the window.

I need to be sure whether you are a man or a woman. Establish your age. Deduce your lifestyle, your social class. I appreciate your writing but not the darkness that surrounds you.

What is better than a room that is dark except for the light of a single reading lamp? Look in the books and you will find eyes, sex, lifestyle, social class, and the id.

And finally…

Will you tell us who you are?

Elena Ferrante. I’ve published seven books. Isn’t that sufficient?

Read the whole thing here.


One Response to “Who are you, Elena Ferrante? “I’ve published seven books. Isn’t that sufficient?””

  1. George Says:

    There is a sentence somewhere in (I think) Jacques Barzun’s writings roughly as follows: “George Eliot is the great novelist; Mary Ann Evans is the pedant’s girlfriend.”