Book One in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila. Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a tetralogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.
Myths of the Underworld in Contemporary Culture: The Backward Gaze examines a series of twentieth and twenty-first century fictional works that adapt Greco-Roman myths of the catabasis, the heroic journey to the underworld. Covering a range of genres - including novels, comics, and children's culture, by authors such as Elena Ferrante, Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, A. S. Byatt, Toni Morrison, and Anne Patchett - it reveals how an enduring fascination with life after death, and fantasies of accessing the world of the dead while we are still alive, manifest themselves in myriad and varied re-imaginings of the ancient descent myth. The volume begins with a detailed overview of the use of the myth by ancient authors such as Homer, Aristophanes, Vergil, and Ovid, before exploring the ways in which the narrative of a return trip to Hades by Odysseus, Aeneas, Orpheus, and Persephone can be manipulated by contemporary storytellers to fit themes of social marginality and alterity, postmodern rebellion, the position of female authors in the literary canon, and the dislocation endured by refugees, exiles, and diasporic populations. It also argues that citations of classical underworld stories can disrupt and challenge the literary canon by using media - such as comic books, children's culture, or rock music - not conventionally associated with high culture.
Reading Groups have made Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet a long-selling bestseller. At Europa Editions we’d like to express by offering this extensive guide to the four installments of the Neapolitan series for book groups, reading groups, and book discussion leaders. With a summary of the series, discussion questions, a summary of international praise and much more, this publication should prove a helpful guide to any and all discussions about Ferrante’s masterpiece.
From one of the most important contemporary thinkers we have, a compelling, forceful tract about women and motherhood that demands immediate attention. Moving commandingly between pop cultural references such as Roald Dahl's 'Matilda' to observations about motherhood in the ancient world, from and thoughts about the stigmatization of single mothers in the UK, Mothers delivers a groundbreaking report into something so prevalent we hardly notice. A short, provocative work that considers how motherhood the object of intense ambivalence, of idealization and hatred-is the ultimate scapegoat for everything that is wrong with the world.
Soon to be an HBO series, book three in the New York Times bestselling Neapolitan quartet about two friends in post-war Italy is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted epic by one of today's most beloved and acclaimed writers, Elena Ferrante, “one of the great novelists of our time.” (Roxana Robinson, The New York Times) In the third book in the Neapolitan quartet, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; she has left her husband and the comforts her marriage brought and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which has opened the doors to a world of learned interlocutors and richly furnished salons. Both women are pushing against the walls of a prison that would have seen them living a life of misery, ignorance and submission. They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the nineteen-seventies. Yet they are still very much bound to each other by a strong, unbreakable bond. Ferrante is one of the world’s great storytellers. With the Neapolitan quartet she has given her readers an abundant, generous, and masterfully plotted page-turner that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight readers for many generations to come.
The Story of a New Name is an extraordinary novel about two young women, Lila and Elena, growing up in Naples in the early 1960s. At sixteen Lila marries the shopkeeper Stefano. She is filled with pleasure at her new wealth, and horror at the life she has chosen. Elena's own attempts at romance seem to be sabotaged by Lila's turbulent affairs. As she tries to plot her way out of poverty via academic and literary success, her constant anxiety is that she is just a shadow of the brilliant Lila. The sequel to My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name continues the enthralling chronicle of a friendship that is obsessive, loving, complicated, hurtful, enduring and constantly startling. It is an exhilarating reading experience.
Book Four in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet “Nothing quite like this has ever been published before,” proclaimed The Guardian newspaper about the Neapolitan Novels in 2014. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third book in the series, was an international best seller and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Its author was dubbed “one of the great novelists of our time” by the New York Times Book Review. This fourth and final installment in the series raises the bar even higher and indeed confirms Elena Ferrante as one of the world’s best living storytellers. Here is the dazzling saga of two women, the brilliant, bookish Elena and the fiery uncontainable Lila. In this book, both are adults; life’s great discoveries have been made, its vagaries and losses have been suffered. Through it all, the women’s friendship, examined in its every detail over the course of four books, remains the gravitational center of their lives. Both women once fought to escape the neighborhood in which they grew up—a prison of conformity, violence, and inviolable taboos. Elena married, moved to Florence, started a family, and published several well-received books. But now, she has returned to Naples to be with the man she has always loved. Lila, on the other hand, never succeeded in freeing herself from Naples. She has become a successful entrepreneur, but her success draws her into closer proximity with the nepotism, chauvinism, and criminal violence that infect her neighborhood. Yet somehow this proximity to a world she has always rejected only brings her role as unacknowledged leader of that world into relief. For Lila is unstoppable, unmanageable, unforgettable! Against the backdrop of a Naples that is as seductive as it is perilous and a world undergoing epochal change, this story of a lifelong friendship is told with unmatched honesty. Lila and Elena clash, drift apart, reconcile, and clash again, in the process revealing new facets of their friendship. The four volumes in this series constitute a long remarkable story that readers will return to again and again, and, like Elena and Lila themselves, every return will bring with it new discoveries.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER "One of the great novelists of our time."--Roxana Robinson, the New York Times Lila has recently married and made her entrée into her husband's family business. Elena, meanwhile, continues her studies and her exploration of the world beyond the Neapolitan neighborhood that she so often finds stifling. Love, jealousy, family, freedom, commitment, and above all friendship: these are signs under which both women live out this phase of their stories. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila, and the pressure to excel is at times too much for Elena. The two young women share a complex and evolving bond that is central to their emotional lives. In this "large, captivating, amiably peopled bildungsroman," (James Wood, The New Yorker) Elena Ferrante gives readers a poignant, universal story about friendship, class, and belonging.
Named one of The Guardian's "Best Books of 2016" From the author of My Brilliant Friend 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 over 20 years 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.
Leda is a middle-aged, divorced mother devoted to her work as an English professor. After the departure of her grown-up daughters, she takes a holiday on the Italian coast. But after a few days things become unsettling; on the beach she encounters a family whose brash behaviour proves menacing. Leda is overwhelmed by memories of the difficult and unconventional choices she made as a mother and their consequences for herself and her family. The tale of a woman's rediscovery of herself soon becomes the story of a ferocious confrontation with the past. The Lost Daughter is a profound exploration of the conflicting emotions that tie women to their children. Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. She is the author of seven novels: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, The Lost Daughter, and the quartet of Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. Fragments, a selection of interviews, letters and occasional writings by Ferrante, will be published in early 2016. She is one of Italy's most acclaimed authors. Ann Goldstein has translated all of Elena Ferrante's work. She is an editor at the New Yorker and a recipient of the PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award. 'Ferrante's gift for psychological horror renders it immediate and visceral.' New Yorker 'This superb and scary Italian writer...has blown the lid off tempestuous parent-child relations.' Seattle Times 'So refined, almost translucent, that it seems about to float away, in the end this piercing novel is not so easily dislodged from the memory.' Boston Globe 'It's Leda's voice that's hypnotic, and it's the writing that makes it that way. Ferrante can do a woman's interior dialogue like no one else, with a ferocity that is shockingly honest, unnervingly blunt.' Booklist 'Ferrante's prose is stunningly candid, direct and unforgettable. From simple elements, she builds a powerful tale of hope and regret.' Publishers Weekly ‘Ferrante’s uncompromising directness and her unflinching gaze cannot be faulted.’ Age/Sydney Morning Herald ‘With cold determination, Ferrante conveys both the selfishness and the courage that comes with admitting your own maternal shortcomings.’ New Zealand Listener