Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Days of Abandonment. Elena Ferrante, 2002 (Translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein, 2005)

Ferrante is one ferocious writer. What a tight, powerful prose, a "turn of the screw" narrative! Her style reminds of the classical 19 c novel, most of all -- Tolstoy. The story of an escalating passion-slash-madness brings to mind "The Kreutzer Sonata." Anna Karenina is also invoked by the protagonist herself ("Where am I? What am I doing? Why?") as the thoughts of self-destruction become overwhelming.
This short novel enacts Everywoman's nightmare: the threat of the young blonde, betrayal, abandonment, lost beauty, aging, self-loathing, alienation, hate, loneliness - all fears, complexes and guilt, entangled in one hard knot. Ferrante writes without a shred of sentimentality, she does not nurture illusions or promise happiness. Through all the stages of the protagonist's downfall and madness, Olga remains an honest narrator. She observes herself dissecting herself - and does that not coldly bur rather passionately, mercilessly.

As Olga pulls the pieces of her soul together slowly, it is not hope that she offers at the end, but solace: "There is no depth, there is no precipice. There is nothing."

Looking forward to reading Ferrante's other novels.


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