Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey
By: Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translator)
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase
In this collection of writings and responses gathered from over 30 years of correspondence, the reclusive Italian author addresses her unwavering decision to remain anonymous, her literary inspirations, Italian politics and culture, and the role of the writer (and the publisher) in modern society. Ferrante’s voice is as direct, penetrating, acute, inspiring, and intimate as it is in her acclaimed novels.
This book invites readers into Elena Ferrante’s workshop. It offers a glimpse into the drawers of her writing desk, those drawers from which emerged her three early standalone novels and the four installments of My Brilliant Friend, known in English as the Neapolitan Quartet. Consisting of letters, essays, reflections, and interviews, it is a unique depiction of an author who embodies a consummate passion for writing.
In these pages Ferrante answers many of her readers’ questions she addresses her choice to stand aside and let her books live autonomous lives. She discusses her thoughts and concerns as her novels are being adapted into films. She talks about the challenge of finding concise answers to interview questions. She explains the joys and the struggles of writing, the anguish of composing a story only to discover that that story isn’t good enough. She contemplates her relationship with psychoanalysis, with the cities she has lived in, with motherhood, with feminism, and with her childhood as a storehouse for memories, impressions, and fantasies. The result is a vibrant and intimate self-portrait of a writer at work.
I finally read it, omg. This book has been sitting on my TBR pile for some time now. I’ve read pretty much all of her books to date save for maybe one or two of the more recent stuff, but I was pretty excited for this one because it promised to provide insight into her writing process her thoughts aout writing and her stories and whatnot.
So this book covers all of the letters and interviews up to the Neapolitan quartet. The reader gets a sense of her thought process into the books and stories that she writes, why her characters are the way they are, topics and issues about women and the society they live in, about the state of Italy, upbringing, and family ties–the relationships and how they inform you as persons. Meticulous was the word that sprang to mind as I was reading these letters and writings of hers; she thinks about motives, everything in her stories is crafted in a particular way, told in a certain matter, for a reason. The commentaries also reinforce her belief that her work stands on its own especially after it is completed; she has no interest in putting herself forward as a public figure behind her writing simply because, why for?
I think you definitely have to be in a particular mood to read her thoughts and ideas behind her stories and the storytelling process because it can get pretty abstract. It can also be dense at times but it’s still worth checking out if you’re a fan of her books or enjoy learning more about a writer’s thought process.