on Elena Ferrante

{0DF9C4A7-9DE9-4C2E-91B9-C9162DF05589}Img400Namara Smith at Bookforum:

Before she published My Brilliant Friend, the first volume of her much-celebrated Neapolitan series, in 2011, Elena Ferrante was known for three short, violent novels about women on the outer boundary of sanity. Although their stories are unrelated, the books form a thematic trilogy. Each is narrated by a woman who embodies a different aspect of female experience—in Troubling Love, a daughter; in Days of Abandonment, a wife; in The Lost Daughter, a mother—and each is concerned with how these domestic roles constrict the lives of their protagonists. Ferrante is often asked about the classical influences in her work, and reading these books you can see why. They are strikingly compressed and spare, set largely in enclosed, almost anonymous, spaces that evoke the stage of a Greek drama, their focus turned inward on the narrator’s slow uncovering of the unconscious forces underneath ordinary family life.

The best-known of the three, Days of Abandonment, is narrated by a kind of contemporary Medea, a woman whose husband has just left her for the teenage daughter of a family friend. In an ominous early scene, she accidently breaks a bottle of wine while preparing a meal, leaving shards of broken glass in her husband’s food and making her wonder whether she secretly wants him dead.

more here.