Sarah and Sarah in Avidly:
Elena Ferrante, as perhaps you know, is the pseudonym of a writer who has written some very wonderful novels. No one knows who Ferrante actually is, and since she (or he) refuses to tell us anything about the wonderful novels that so many love, readers are left grasping at straws — reaching for an interpretive cue about how we might best situate these novels. These novels feature a voice without a body to anchor it, allowing us all to indulge in endless (pleasurable!) conversation over what form “Ferrante” would or should take. Our opinions on this matter usually align with our values.
…As Sarahs, we would like to weigh in on the Ferrante covers. First, the general consensus (which is wrong): the covers of these novels are bad, either unthinkingly or purposefully.
…The covers, one after another, are no joke; they require no inside knowledge about artistic intention. They are straightforward, compelling, and absolutely devastating. What can we learn from them if we stop trying to pose ourselves as somehow more aesthetically sophisticated than they are? Because basically the problem is that we’ve been trying to reconcile these covers with our taste, and we cannot do that currently, because these covers love women, whereas, as we all know, taste is just another word for internalized misogyny. And so, a preliminary list, (because we do so love a list). What do we learn from the Ferrante covers? Well, we learn:
1. Marriage is a place you never fully get to.
2. A man’s shadow casts itself in two directions.
3. The scale of things is off kilter inside a marriage
4. There are vistas, and they remain forever in the distance.
5. Fitting together with another person is a comfort and a weight, like heavy knit or corduroy.
6. Youth starts to feel old inside a marriage.
7. Girlish fantasies fuel us forever.
8. A woman’s body disappears into a child as much as the other way around.
9. The presence of a child is always already a loss.
10. People rarely face us in full, but we walk with them anyway.
So please, reconsider.