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The Australian: "...the Italian writer is scathing about persistent speculation that she is in fact a well-known male writer (or, given the magnitude of her success, a cabal of well-known male writers)."

Date: Sep 12 2015

After reading Gregory Day’s review of newly translated novels by the French Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, all I want to do is check into a hotel for a week, shut out the world and read nothing else. The problem with this plan is I have a pre-existing agreement with myself to check into a hotel for a week and read nothing but Elena Ferrante. The problem with that is I have a prior engagement to check into a hotel for a week and read nothing but Karl Ove Knausgaard. One day.

The mysterious Ferrante, whose identity is known only to a handful of people, recently granted an email interview to Vanity Fair ahead of the publication of The Story of the Lost Child, the final novel in her Neapolitan quartet, the hype about which has moved into outer space, planet Earth being too small to contain it. In the interview, the Italian writer is scathing about persistent speculation that she is in fact a well-known male writer (or, given the magnitude of her success, a cabal of well-known male writers). Her thoughts on this provide our Quote of the week:

“Have you heard anyone say recently about any book written by a man, ‘It’s really a woman who wrote it, or maybe a group of women?’ Due to its exorbitant might, the male gender can mimic the female gender, incorporating it in the process. The female gender, on the other hand, cannot mimic anything, for it is betrayed immediately by its ‘weakness’; what it produces could not possibly fake male potency.

“The truth is that even the publishing industry and the media are convinced of this commonplace; both tend to shut women who write away in a literary gynaeceum. There are good women writers, not-so-good ones, and some great ones, but they all exist within the area reserved for the female sex, they must only address certain themes and in certain tones that the male tradition considers suitable for the female gender.”