Friendship and Naples Defined

Italian novelist, Elena Ferrante, is astute and cognizant of society within the scheme of Naples and its surroundings.

I have read three books of hers, all three part of a series, and a fourth is expected to be published in the near future.

The three I read are:
My Brilliant Friend
The Story of a New Name
Those Who Leave and Those Who Staya

My maternal ancestral roots lie within the Naples area. My grandparents emigrated from there-my grandmother as a child in 1890, and my grandfather as a 20-year old in 1900. These three books gave me insight into the social modes and traditions of Naples, and into the lives of those who lived within its borders.

The books are novels, written with an in depth reflection on friendship during times of hardship, during times when education was not necessarily valued, and during times of neighborhood interactions and how those interactions affected the individuals within the borders of it.

Individual feuds with friends are only one aspect of the people within the Naples neighborhood. Family feuds, family jealousies and family struggles are vividly depicted. Family infidelities seem to be a known, but not necessarily verbalized, slice of life. The motivations of the people are astutely defined, and although some may seem to be unmotivated, that very act, in itself, is often manipulative in order to gain what the person desires. Desiring to leave one’s surroundings is an important part of the stories. Some choose to leave only to find that life is still a constant battle. Some choose to stay within the daily battles for survival. Some leave, but in their hearts they remain cemented to Naples.

The educated versus the uneducated is embellished. Does education only refer to academics, or can it be defined in other aspects? Can being streetwise be an education, in itself. Can leaving school, yet constantly reading at home be viewed as education?

I read the series out of order, My Brilliant Friend, fist, then Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and lastly, The Story of a New Name. It doesn’t matter if you only read one book, you don’t need to read the entire series to garner the illuminating situations of life. Elena Ferrante’s writing is brilliant, in each book.

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