Dayna Tortirici in n+1:
The investigative journalist Claudio Gatti’s “months-long investigation” into public real estate records in Rome makes the compelling case that Ferrante is, as the stones knew, Anita Raja. Gatti’s previous subjects include JP Morgan Chase and Silvio Berlusconi—targets more deserving of his skills. The article was rolled out in multiple languages simultaneously, like the NSA leak: “in English by NYR Daily, in Italian by Il Sole 24 Ore, in German by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and in French on the investigative website, Mediapart,” as the footnote read. Reporting on the reaction to Gatti’s story, the New York Times reached Ferrante’s publisher, Sandra Ozzola Ferri, for comment. “If someone wants to be left alone, leave her alone,” she said. “She’s not a member of the Camorra, or Berlusconi. She’s a writer and isn’t doing anyone any harm.” Ferrante’s readers were quick to denounce Gatti’s revelation. I myself was irritated. Even the stones know that Ferrante is Ferrante, and that’s the way her readers want it. More than Ferrante herself, her readers have benefited from her choice, spared so much extradiegetic noise. We are as invested in her anonymity—and her autonomy—as she is. It is a compact: she won’t tell us, we won’t ask, and she won’t change her mind and tell us anyway. In exchange, she’ll write books and we’ll read them. The feminist defense of Ferrante’s privacy was especially swift. It’s difficult to read a man’s attempt to “out” a writer who has said she would stop writing if she were ever identified as anything but an attempt to make her stop writing.
…“I believe that, today, failing to protect writing by guaranteeing it an autonomous space, far from the demands of the media and the marketplace, is a mistake,” Ferrante told the Financial Times last year. This is an uncontroversial truth. Writers need space to work. One word for this space is room; another is freedom; another is privacy. Each writer finds this space where she can. Woolf pragmatically emphasized the material: “give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days.” (She needed the metaphysical, too: “I need solitude,” Woolf wrote in her diaries. “I need space. I need air. I need the empty fields around me; and my legs pounding along roads; and sleep; and animal existence.”) Kafka found his space at night: “The burning electric light, the silent house, the darkness outside, the last waking moments, they give me the right to write even if it be only the most miserable stuff. And this right I use hurriedly. That’s the person I am.” When she was young, Dorothy West asked her mother for permission to close her door so she could think, and to lock it so she could write. “