Elena Ferrante, The Days of Abandonment (2002), 188p
With the popularization of the literary markets, apparently an inevitable consequence of following a purist American theology of Capitalism, eliminating all public investments to balance the public good out of the equation of interest, it can be difficult to find elevating literary writers these days. I have almost completely stopped sifting through the may top ten lists, awards and nominations like the homeopathic New York Times best seller list, such a Mayan veil and scam of literature was never invented before, or the New Yorker with its blase short stories that fail to shock any man with a real taste for life. How can one take the American literary landscape every serious again, it’s worth a novel full of labyrinths.
But Elena Ferrante, if for a moment we consider this her real name, has the true spirit of an author, she feels enough has been done to a book once it has been written, once she has poured her confessions to paper and added an artificial construct to make it credible. Once in print, only the reader can add meaning to a story. I believe strongly that only out of such absence of vanity, out of such love for the imagination that reality is shunned, and certainly the false desire to be in the public spotlight, can bring forth any literature close to being worth reading.
One can place some remarks to the almost fantastical scene of the protagonist taking the ‘key’ into her mouth in order to ‘unlock’ the ‘door’. This is almost a childish mistake of heavy symbolism in a too easily recognizable form, but apart from this scene that sadly lasts for pages, the book remains true to credible fiction, and though she perhaps could dig deeper into her self and add more revealing reflections of her human soul, the book carries a reflective burden with it. Another point of criticism is that women tend to identify with being victimized too easily, and this book is no relief from it, not a very emancipated protagonist perhaps. It’s not how Marguerite Duras would have witnessed the story.
But nevertheless, Ferrante delivers a true novel of the human soul, and The Days of Abandonment is a mirror to many.
The New Yorker, Women on the Verge, The fiction of Elena Ferrante, by James Wood (21 January 2013)