This morning I came across an interview with the Italian author who writes under the pseudonym “Elena Ferrante.” I have been meaning to read her Neapolitan Novels for some time, and the grace and profundity of this interview has made me move them to the top of my reading list.
In the interview, Ferrante discusses the fragments of memory that spark her fiction, what it means to write as a woman, and the way in which the media distorts literary texts by focusing on the public images of writers. Below are her thoughts on finding truth through the energy of writing. The entire interview is available through The Paris Review.
…to a great extent, that energy simply appears, it happens. It feels as if parts of the brain and of your entire body, parts that have been dormant, are enlarging your consciousness, making you more sensitive. You can’t say how long it will last, you tremble at the idea that it might suddenly stop and leave you midstream. To be honest, you never know if you’ve developed the right style of writing, or if you’ve made the most out of it. Anyone who puts writing at the center of his life ends up in the situation of Dencombe, in Henry James’s “The Middle Years,” who, about to die, at the peak of success, hopes to have one more opportunity to test himself and discover if he can do better than what he’s already done. Alternatively, he lives with the desperate feeling expressed in the exclamation of Proust’s Bergotte when he sees Vermeer’s little patch of yellow wall—“That is how I ought to have written.”