'The Paris Review' Got Elena Ferrante In-Person!

by Meredith Turits

If you search "elena ferrante identity," you'll pull up more than 50,000 results on Google. "Who is Elena Ferrante?" asks T magazine; "Elena Ferrante, Author of Naples Novels, Stays Mysterious," the New York Times reads. The Italian novelist, author of The Neapolitan Novels, which have been released on Europa Editions, has never made a public appearance, let alone sat for an in-person interview — until now. On Tuesday, releasing a preview of their upcoming issue, The Paris Review confirmed that Elena Ferrante's first in-person interview will appear in The Paris Review 's Spring 2015 issue.

Ferrante — a pseudonym, of course — has stayed out of the public eye since 1990. Because the writer has kept herself from the spotlight, guesses as to her identity have run rampant as her literary star has risen. (Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Ferrante's 2014 release, was touted as one of the year's best in the U.S. almost universally.) For example, an Italian male novelist from Naples had to deny accusations that he was the real Ferrante; speculation still bubbles that perhaps Ferrante is actually a man. Maybe this is the interview that will put the rumor to bed.

Along with The Paris Review's announcement, they've offered up a snippet of Ferrante's interview — although they have not confirmed who conducted it, which is half of the bang of TPR Art of Fiction conversations — and it is as luminous as you'd hope. In the excerpt, her interviewer discusses with Ferrante keeping herself out of the media:

Once I knew that the completed book would make its journey without being accompanied by my physical person, once I knew that nothing of the concrete, definite individual that is me would ever appear beside the volume — as if the book were a little dog and I were its master — it illuminated for me an aspect of writing that was obvious, but which I had never thought of. I felt as though I had released the words from myself.

Even in the short exchange, Ferrante sheds incredible light on the complex relationship among writer, identity, reader reception, and media — do yourself a favor and read the rest at the link above. Upon its full unveiling, the entire conversation may, in fact, explode the literary Internet.

A side note: You'll want to be excited for the Spring 2015 issue, regardless of the Ferrante chat — it contains conversations with Lydia Davis and Hilary Mantel, as well. Quite the trifecta to usher in spring.

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