Elena Ferrante’s Class Fictions

Jennifer Wilson at The Nation:

In Ferrante’s most recent novel, The Lying Life of Adults, we are pulled yet again into the story with the tale of a missing woman, Aunt Vittoria. Unlike Lila, she has not disappeared altogether but is estranged from her brother, Andrea, and her 12-year-old niece, Giovanna, who narrates the story. While Giovanna and her parents live in a middle-class section of Naples, Vittoria has remained in Pascone, the working-class neighborhood in the city’s Industrial Zone where she and Andrea were raised. Throughout the novel, we get conflicting stories from Vittoria and Andrea about what led to their estrangement. A dispute about who should inherit their mother’s apartment following her death was certainly the breaking point, but there had long been tension between them. Early on, it becomes clear that Andrea is frustrated that his sister did not respond to the poverty of their childhood in the same way he did: by leaving Pascone behind with no qualms or doubts and embracing the tastes and habits of the Italian bourgeoisie. But what takes longer to be revealed is that Vittoria is perhaps no better, that her working-class pride may not be as sturdy as she wants her young, wide-eyed niece to think.

more here.