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The Ferrante Letters: An Experiment in Collective Criticism (Literature Now) Paperback – January 7, 2020
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The intimate tone lends a beguiling humanity to the book, inducing a pleasure more often associated with novels: the pleasure of character. ― New Yorker
A truly innovative approach to understanding the author-reader connection made all the more compelling for having one of the 20th century's greatest literary works at its core. ― Library Journal
The combination of intellectual rigor and personal reaction makes this fascinating reading for Ferrante fans. ― Publishers Weekly
If The Ferrante Letters is meant to be an experiment in what would happen if boundaries, forms, and the shape of literary criticism were to dissolve and the opinions of critics blurred into one another, it is one that the authors recognize as both an exciting and frightening possibility. ― New Republic
The Ferrante Letters gives us a unique opportunity to read―or reread―the Neapolitan novels with four distinct guides beside us, both literary and personal, posing questions and offering insights, analysis, and discussion that enrich and deepen our experience of the books. -- Ann Goldstein, translator of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels
The Ferrante Letters is a smart, beautiful, often moving meditation on the experience of reading the Neapolitan Quartet. This collection of letters and essays deftly manages that tricky balance of the creative, the critical, and the personal. A magnificent accomplishment. -- Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift: A Novel
These four smart feminist critics reflect on the Neapolitan novels' exploration of women's friendship, intellectual labor, and personal lives. Reading The Ferrante Letters feels like you have stumbled upon your favorite reading group talking about your favorite author. It captures the way critical thinking should work, not in isolation but in conversation. -- Pamela Thurschwell, University of Sussex
In The Ferrante Letters, expertise and passion dovetail to great effect. This absorptive, idiosyncratic book is a work of collective criticism that offers a set of rigorous, convivial, and stylish readings of its primary texts, staging the critical act as also a creative one. This book reveals that the form literary criticism takes is as important as its content. -- Sarah Blackwood, author of The Portrait's Subject: Inventing Inner Life in the Nineteenth-Century United States
While it is primarily Ferrante devotees who will find this book most intriguing, those interested in alternative modes of critical inquiry should take a look as well. A sharp and lively book for fans and scholars. ― Kirkus Reviews
This book is a must-read for anyone who loves Elena Ferrante and for anyone who wants to think about new directions in literary criticism. ― Bookriot
If you are new at the Ferrante's world this one will be a great introduction...Highly recommended. ― Il Feminile
The Ferrante Letters is a bold, often inspiring attempt to rethink literary criticism and teaching practices on a collective basis, bridging the personal, critical and pleasurable. ― Times Higher Education
I would heartily recommend The Ferrante Letters to fellow Ferrante fans, to feminist scholars, to readers interested in collective critical experiments. ― Times Literary Supplement
What Chihaya, Emre, Hill, and Richards have created might cater more to the cultivated reader of Ferrante than the scholar, yet academics stand to learn much from as daring and novel a form of criticism as this one. ― World Literature Today
The Ferrante Letters is extremely absorbing. It’s rare to come across university-nurtured criticism, informed by theory, that is jargon-free and studded with insight. ― Virginia Quarterly Review
About the Author
- Publisher : Columbia University Press (January 7, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0231194579
- ISBN-13 : 978-0231194570
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #473,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is a compilation of letters that four academic women sent to each other over the course of a summer. In advance, they picked the book(s) they wanted to read, set up the guidelines and went their separate ways to learn what would happen. Clearly they thought it a success or I wouldn't have been reading the published results. The book isn't for everyone. It helps if you have academic blood in your veins, but anyone who loves The Quartet and is interested in what someone else liked and found interesting will enjoy reading these letters.
Personally I found I needed these four women to bring some important themes to my attention. The first time
I read the Quartet, I zoomed right through them finding them hard to put down. This second time, I'm reading much slower and still I missed things: the violence in the neighbourhood in direct proportion to the poverty; the competition between the girls with whatever is handy. First schooling and when Lina no longer went to school, riches and wealth. The letters also point out the cruelty between the two and that it comes with the territory. I looked back over the many books I've read about friendship and I have never read the cruelty of friendship stated so matter of factly. Or the passion. Or the many other qualities of a friendship that last over sixty years.
The Ferrante Letters made me think. And I liked that. I'm ready to start all over again from the beginning. I also found it interesting that these women didn't know each other well when they started writing the letters to each other. They seemed inspired by the friendship between Lena and Lila. They jumped right into deep revelations, questions and remarks. They are very different personalities and it was enjoyable sensing the different thoughts about the themes they talked about. I loved that one of them went to Naples and tried to find the neighbourhood. That's something I would have done. That's love!
I recommend this book to anyone who loved the Ferrante Napolitan Quartet and who want to be stimulated to consider the books more thoughtfully. It is a book you could read and put down and pick up again later. In fact, I don't think one should read this book in one helping.
I suspect this was a one time experiment but I would love it if they did the same thing with another beloved book.