The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Thursday, September 19, 2019

Writers' privacy row erupts as Italy's Ferrante unmasked
Reacting angrily to Gatti's revelation, Ferrante's publisher did not deny his claim.

by Angus Mackinnon

ROME (AFP).- One of literature's most talked-about mysteries appeared to have been cracked Monday with the unmasking of the identity of the Italian publishing sensation Elena Ferrante.

In its wake, a literary row erupted over journalistic ethics and writers' right to protect their identities and the personal back stories that may, or may not, inform their work.

Claudio Gatti, an Italian investigative journalist, says he has seen evidence of royalty payments that establish that Ferrante is a pen name for Anita Raja, a Rome-based translator who is married to a well-known novelist.

Reacting angrily to Gatti's revelation, Ferrante's publisher did not deny his claim.

Instead it railed against the perceived breach of the writer's right to privacy. 

"It is disgusting to see a great Italian author, loved and celebrated in our country and across the world, treated like a criminal," Edizioni E/O said in a statement.

"What higher public interest could the investigation led by Claudio Gatti have served?"

Ferrante's best-selling novels, particularly her Naples-based quartet, have been acclaimed for their intricate, compelling storytelling and insights into the nature of female friendship.

Her success has been fuelled by media interest in the mystery over the author's identity with the until-now anonymous Ferrante having granted only a handful of interviews conducted via emails passed on by her publisher.

Gatti's scoop was based on leaked records of payments made by Ferrante's publishers, for whom Raja also worked, which appear to correspond to the royalties the best-selling novelist would have been due.

Assuming that Raja is Ferrante, it appears that the author of "My Brilliant Friend" has been complicit in misleading the literary world and her millions of fans into thinking she was the daughter of a Neapolitan seamstress familiar with the backdrop of post-war poverty against which her most famous novels are set.

'Full of untruths'
Gatti defended his story, published Sunday by the New York Review of Books and outlets in Italy, France and Germany, on the grounds that Ferrante was a public figure and that she had "lied" about her life story.

"When millions of books are bought by readers -- in a way I think readers acquire the right to know something about the person who created the book," the journalist told BBC Radio 4.

Gatti argued this was particularly true in light of Ferrante's publication in 2003 of "Frantumaglia", an ostensibly autobiographical collection of non-fiction writings which the reporter described as "full of untruths".

"As a journalist I don't like lies and I chose to expose them," Gatti said.

While Raja was born in the southern city, she was raised from the age of three in middle class comfort in Rome by her magistrate father and a mother of Polish Jewish heritage who had escaped the Holocaust as a young girl and never lost her German accent.

'Writers owe readers nothing'
British academic Katherine Angel claimed the reporter had gone after Ferrante as if she were "a corrupt politician hiding tax evasion" when in fact she had done nothing to deserve such intrusion.

"A writer does not owe their reader anything beyond their work," Angel told the BBC.

Novelist JoJo Moyes weighed in on Twitter. "Maybe Elena Ferrante has very good reasons to write under a pseudonym. It's not our 'right' to know her," she wrote.

Italian novelist Erri de Luca agreed. "To whom does it matter a jot the real identity of Elena Ferrante?" he said. "As a reader the identity of a writer is of no interest to me."

Novelist Matt Haig added: "Think the pursuit to discover the 'real' Elena Ferrante is a disgrace and also pointless," he tweeted. "A writer's truest self is the books they write."

Being economical with biographical details is not exactly unprecedented in literary history.

Ferrante herself revealed in a 2003 interview that she liked her compatriot Italo Calvino's warning to a student of his work: "Ask me what you want to know, but I won’t tell you the truth, of that you can be sure."

The writer's unmasking will inevitably reignite speculation that Raja's husband, Domenico Starnone, a Neapolitan who has also written about the city's post-war period, may have had a hand in the Ferrante books.

A decade ago, experts at Rome's La Sapienza University employed text analysis software to try and establish who Ferrante might be.

They concluded there was a "high probability" Starnone had written them.

Several other literary figures were linked to the books in the intervening years but no one had, until now, produced the kind of back-up evidence Gatti has acquired.

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

October 4, 2016

Experts say painting bought for $25 in 1899 could be an original Raphael

Hauser & Wirth announces worldwide representation of Arshile Gorky Estate

Contemporary art market slows as Chinese buyers switch focus

Tornabuoni Art opens solo exhibition of works by Alighiero Boetti

New commission by French artist Philippe Parreno unveiled at Tate Modern

Writers' privacy row erupts as Italy's Ferrante unmasked

Almine Rech Gallery opens new gallery space in London with an exhibition by Jeff Koons.

Mossgreen announces auction of the Raphy Star Collection of Important Asian Art

Ann Linnemann and six new Danish talents exhibit at Lacoste Gallery in Concord

South London Gallery opens new permanent garden by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco

Richard Saltoun Gallery presents works by founding member of the illustrious Ton Fan Group

Jessica Carlisle opens exhibition of renowned British artist Paul Feiler

Sotheby's sales of Modern and Contemporary Asian Art achieve US$89,532,371

Victoria Miro exhibits works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Aura Satz's first exhibition in New York on view at Fridman Gallery

First major UK exhibition of the Italian artist Rodolfo Aricò opens at Luxembourg & Dayan

French-born artist Henri Barande exhibits for the first time in the UK at the Saatchi Gallery

Exhibition by artist Marc Camille Chaimowicz opens at the Serpentine

Exhibition highlights the ICA’s rich heritage as a home for radical contemporary arts and culture

Fowler Museum presents first solo U.S. museum exhibition of Cuban artist Belkis Ayón

Garment District space for public art showcases paintings by artist Umberto Squarcia Jr.

"The Guardian Animals + other invisible beings" opens at Moretti Fine Art

Sotheby's Hong Kong Classical Chinese Paintings sale fetches HK$65.76 million

Major exhibition of works by Jannis Kounellis on view at White Cube

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful