Alessia Ricciardi

Can the Subaltern Speak in Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels?

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Elena Ferrante; Neapolitan; Subaltern; Difference; Entrustment.

Can the Subaltern Speak in Ferrante's "Neapolitan Novels?" examines subalternity in Elena Ferrante's "My Brilliant Friend", "The Story of a New Name", "Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay", and "The Story of the Lost Child". Starting with the two protagonists' friendship, in which Elena perpetually regards herself as Lila's inferior, the language and experiences of the subaltern shape Ferrante's depiction of her characters and Neapolitan culture. Yet if the novels envision any corrective to the dilemma that Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak famously dubs «the immense problem of the consciousness of the woman as subaltern», it paradoxically consists in the friends' mutual «entrustment», as the term is defined in the feminist thinking of difference (il pensiero della differenza). Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet in this light may be seen to represent a complex, self-questioning investigation of «female difference», to borrow a phrase from the author herself.

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