23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante is the pseudonym of a female writer who writes in Italian.

Her début novel »L’amore molesto« (Eng. »Troubling Love«, 2006), which appeared in 1992, is about a young woman who, in dealing with the unclear circumstances of her mother’s death, also confronts her past and origins in a large Neapolitan family. It was not until ten years later that Ferrante considered another manuscript worthy of publication. Roughly one half of the book »I giorni dell’ abbandono« (Eng. »The Days of Abandonment«, 2005) describes a single day: the first-person narrator has unexpectedly been left by her husband and now questions her entire life – her family life, her role as a mother, and her own identity. In her 2006 novel »La figlia oscura« (Eng. »The Lost Daughter«, 2008) the author again addresses the question of what should be considered appropriate or inappropriate in the sense of practical reasoning. According to a review in the »Neue Zürcher Zeitung«, she explores this question with psychological subtlety and free of clichés, anchored by a context of deep symbolic meaning. The story focuses on a successful, middle-aged woman; during a beach vacation she – whose grown-up children have just left home – observes the young mother Nina and her little daughter and becomes aware of the price she has had to pay for her own life. In 2014 she published »Storia della bambina perduta« (2014, Eng. »The Story of the Lost Child«, 2015), the fourth part of the Neapolitan novels, which began in 2011 with »L’amica geniale« (Eng. »My Brilliant Friend«, 2012). Additionally, in 2007 Ferrante published the children’s book »La spiaggia di notte« (Eng. »The Beach at Night«, 2016), about a forgotten doll that experiences a scary night because the doll’s keeper has found a new favorite toy. In »La Frantumaglia« (2016, Eng. » Frantumaglia. A Writer’s Journey«, 2016) Ferrante offers information about her life and her writing career in letters, essays, and interviews. The word »Frantumaglia« comes from the Neapolitan dialect and is a symbol for the unspeakable and confusing. In this book it becomes a symbol for the formative impulses in Ferrante’s life.

The BBC selected »L’amica geniale« as one of the 21st century’s twenty most significant works to date. The English edition of »The Story of the Lost Child« (2015) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2016.