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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The identity of Elena Ferrante revealed

Thinking ahead to book group tonight have been re-reading parts of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend (and reading my posts on same) and wondered about this, back to my original question: Who is Elena Ferrante? The obvious and perhaps too obvious answer is that she is the protagonist of this four-volume memoir-like novel, whose name is Elena (Greco, at least that's her birth name). E describes herself as very bright but often in the shadow of her more brilliant and unconventional friend, Lila. But I wonder. Note two things: First, there are many passages in this memoir-like novel that the narrator could not have and did not observe; they're created or re-created as by a narrator of a work of fiction. (Note for comparison that, to my knowledge and recollection, there are no such passages in all the volumes of Proust or Knausgaard). Second: what about this beginning of MBF? Story begins w/ Elena, now about 60, getting a call about the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of her best friend from youth, Lila - and she seemingly sets about to write this series of novels to explain, perhaps to herself, why Lena disappeared. Doesn't if make more sense, however, that Lila = Ferrante, that she "disappeared" (she is well known for being unknown; EF is a pseudonym and it has never been revealed or determined who wrote her, or his for that matter, novels) and is revealed only through her published works. Elena is, therefor, Lila's creation - and her narrative mission is to tell Lila's story, that is, the story of the writer who created her and disappeared.

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