A richly layered study that will appeal to the well-versed fan.

An Italian scholar tackles novelist Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet in terms of their “creative forms of [female] resistance.”

Ferrante has managed to keep her true identity secret since she published her first novel in 1992; she has consistently refused to be defined by the patriarchy in Italy, “where male journalists, publishers, and professors consistently undermine women writers and their visibility.” De Rogatis (Comparative Literature/Univ. for Foreigners of Siena) offers a close reading of the themes, style, and language of the quartet of novels about the dovetailing lives of two girls coming-of-age in 1950s-through-1970s Naples, Elena and Lila: My Brilliant Friend (2012), The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014), and The Story of the Lost Child (2015). De Rogatis meticulously explores the arc of the narrative as the two poor friends struggle to go to school despite the narrowed expectations of female lives at the time, and certainly within the neighborhood in Naples where they live, and both have to navigate overweening male relationships, marriage, children, and the struggle for self-emancipation. Ferrante, argues de Rogatis, writes with an eye to the “high and low,” with enough twists in plot and engaging characters to keep readers hooked, “drawing on subgenres, like thrillers, serial novels…even photo romances—that is to say, marginalized genres.” Among the “key words” de Rogatis explores are the complicated "friendship" between the girls, entailing both projection and envy; “smarginatura,” a term Ferrante uses to mean “spilling through the established boundaries of conventional reality”; and frantumaglia, a word Ferrante’s mother invented (according to de Rogatis) meaning “how she felt when she was racked by contradictory sensations.” Throughout, the author emphasizes the global relevance of Ferrante’s feminist work in light of #MeToo narratives of “erasure and survival.”

A richly layered study that will appeal to the well-versed fan.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60945-563-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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