A scene of reading found early in My Brilliant Friend, the opening novel in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet, seems to have supplied Chihaya, Emre, Hill, and Richards with the model for the “experiment in collective criticism” they stage in The Ferrante Letters, a book in which they mean, ambitiously, to lay down “first a procedure and then the beginning of a tradition” (3). When Ferrante has her first-person narrator, Lenù Greco, recall how she and another neighborhood girl, Lila Cerullo, near the end of their final year of primary school, bonded through their impassioned reading of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, the novelist invites her readers to equate friendship with shared reading and conversation about reading. The Ferrante Letters, a collective project of “reading and writing about women reading and writing” (2), also tells a story about friendship, one it interweaves with reflections on Ferrante's fiction...
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November 1, 2021
Book Review| November 01 2021
Chihaya, Sarah, Emre, Merve, Hill, Katherine, and Richards, Jill,
The Ferrante Letters: An Experiment in Collective Criticism(
2020), Literature Now, pp.
277, paper, $25.00.
DEIDRE LYNCH is Ernest Bernbaum Professor of English Literature at Harvard University, where she co-convenes the Novel Theory seminar at the Mahindra Humanities Center. She is author of a number of books, including Loving Literature: A Cultural History (2015). The Unfinished Book, coedited with Alexandra Gillespie, was published at the start of 2021.
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Novel (2021) 54 (3): 470–474.
Deidre Lynch; Pen Pals. Novel 1 November 2021; 54 (3): 470–474. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-9353953
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