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The Neapolitan Novels

by Elena Ferrante

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802269,643 (4.25)6
"Nothing quite like this has ever been published before," proclaimed The Guardian about the Neapolitan novels in 2014. Against the backdrop of a Naples that is as seductive as it is perilous and a world undergoing epochal change, Elena Ferrante tells the story of a sixty-year friendship between the brilliant and bookish Elena and the fiery, rebellious Lila with unmatched honesty and brilliance. The four books in this novel cycle constitute a long, remarkable story, one that Vogue described as "gutsy and compulsively readable," which readers will return to again and again, and each return will bring with it new revelations.   … (more)
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I read the Neapolitan novels in the midst of the doxxing scandal, and assiduously avoided all articles that speculated on the “true” identity of Elena Ferrante. The mere need to know her “real” name indicates a failure on the part of the reader to understand the most fundamental “message” of the tetralogy: Lenu’s authorial voice would not exist without her friend, Lila. Personal identity is fluid. We form ourselves (and our idea of ourselves) only through our relationships with others; therefore the person(ality) we are, on a basic level, is a product of--and a response to--our socio-cultural context, for good or for bad.

Lenu begins the story of their friendship only after Lila has disappeared. Telling it, Lenu hopes to conjure her vanished friend both literally and figuratively. Figuratively, she provides the scaffolding through which Lila becomes intelligible--there is her preternatural savviness; her complex standing within the neighborhood & the labor movement; her fear of (& desire) for dissolution; the particular breed of her intelligence and its limitations; her response to cataclysmic events; the sacralizing of Naples. Literally, the story Lenu narrates is meant to call Lila from the shadows--it is a trap to ensnare her--to force Lila to produce her own better counter-narrative, to induce her to come to the creative table. To collaborate. ( )
  reganrule | Oct 20, 2016 |
Read with Kindle/Audible combo. Doing more of this recently and enjoying. Can either read or listen or both together. Very much enjoyed these four novels, which tell the story of two friends from 1950s girlhood in Naples through post 9/11 period. Told in first person by Lenu, who becomes a successful writer, about friendship with Lila, who remains in their lower class neighborhood. ( )
  idiotgirl | Mar 6, 2016 |
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"Nothing quite like this has ever been published before," proclaimed The Guardian about the Neapolitan novels in 2014. Against the backdrop of a Naples that is as seductive as it is perilous and a world undergoing epochal change, Elena Ferrante tells the story of a sixty-year friendship between the brilliant and bookish Elena and the fiery, rebellious Lila with unmatched honesty and brilliance. The four books in this novel cycle constitute a long, remarkable story, one that Vogue described as "gutsy and compulsively readable," which readers will return to again and again, and each return will bring with it new revelations.   

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