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The Ferrante letters : an experiment in collective criticism

Format: Print Book 2020
Availability: On Order 1 copy
On Order (1)
Location Collection Status
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - New Books IN PROCESSING
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - New Books
Like few other works of contemporary literature, Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels found an audience of passionate and engaged readers around the world. Inspired by Ferrante's intense depiction of female friendship and women's intellectual lives, four critics embarked upon a project that was both work and play: to create a series of epistolary readings of the Neapolitan Quartet that also develops new ways of reading and thinking together.

In a series of intertwined, original, and daring readings of Ferrante's work and her fictional world, Sarah Chihaya, Merve Emre, Katherine Hill, and Jill Richards strike a tone at once critical and personal, achieving a way of talking about literature that falls between the seminar and the book club. Their letters make visible the slow, fractured, and creative accretion of ideas that underwrites all literary criticism and also illuminate the authors' lives outside the academy. The Ferrante Letters offers an improvisational, collaborative, and cumulative model for reading and writing with others, proposing a new method the authors call collective criticism. A book for fans of Ferrante and for literary scholars seeking fresh modes of intellectual exchange, The Ferrante Letters offers incisive criticism, insouciant riffs, and the pleasure of giving oneself over to an extended conversation about fiction with friends.
Part 1: Letters (2015)
Part 2: Essays (2018)
"Unform," Sarah Chihaya
"The Story of a Fiction," Katherine Hill
"The Queer Counterfactual," Jill Richards
"The Cage of Authorship," Merve Emre
Appendix: Guest Letters
Sara Marcus, Marissa Brostoff, Lili Loofbourow, Cecily Swanson and Amy Schiller.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "In this "experiment" in epistolary criticism, three scholars (Sarah Chihaya, Merve Emre, Jill Richards) and one writer (Katherine Hill) explore what it means to develop ideas together. Taking Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan Quartet as their subject, they exchanged letters during the summer of 2015 and published them in the academic journal Post45. Reprinted here, these letters make up the book's first half. Its second consists of four new essays written as an outgrowth of the letter-writing project. This structure puts process on display; the letters begin impressionistically, with, for example, ruminations on the fact that Lenu, Ferrante's narrator, is a writer, thus possessing the unique power to give words to felt experience. Through their exchange, Richards transforms this observation into a more fully fledged argument about how the books are animated by what she, in her essay, calls "a counterfactual imagination" realized through Lenu's obsession with writing not her own story but rather her best friend's. Alongside ideas, so too do intimacies develop--salutations evolve from "Dear Readers" to "Dear Friends"--as the four allow their personal lives to flow into their correspondence, and "life gets written and rewritten into arguments." Chihaya, Emre, Hill, and Richards maintain resolutely distinctive voices, even as they perform this act of collective criticism. With fiery insight and feminist spirit, they have written a fitting companion to Ferrante's books."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "As this thoughtful and thought-provoking compilation records, over the summer of 2015 four English professors decided to try out a new approach to criticism. Seeking to carry out a flexible, "permeable" dialogue instead of solitary study, Chihaya, Emre, Hill, and Richards (from, respectively, Princeton, Oxford, Adelphi, and Yale), settled on Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet. In hopes of "encoding the intimate labor of conversation as part of a scholarly work," they exchanged letters recording their responses, both intellectual and visceral, to reading Ferrante's epic tale of female friendship in post-WWII Italy ("Oh Nino," Richards laments of one character, "why are you such a tool?"). Ferrante's stylistic choices produce debates about narrator reliability, the erasure of women from public spaces, and the tension, in Emre's words, between the "incessant need to minister to another human being" experienced by mothers and the "unbroken time and seclusion" sought by writers. The letters are followed by more considered essays from each contributor written a few years later, including Emre's on what Ferrante's decision to remain pseudonymous says about the nature of authorship. Several guest writers also contribute their thoughts in an appendix. The combination of intellectual rigor and personal reaction makes this fascinating reading for Ferrante fans. (Jan.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Series Literature Now.
Subjects Ferrante, Elena -- Criticism and interpretation.
Female friendship in literature.
Women in literature.
Publisher New York :2020
Contributors Chihaya, Sarah, author.
Emre, Merve, author.
Hill, Katherine, 1982- author.
Richards, Jill C., 1983- author.
Language English
Description 277 pages ; 22 cm.
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 9780231194563
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