Journalist defends expose of author Elena Ferrante
The Italian journalist who claims to have exposed the identity of best-selling author Elena Ferrante defended his investigation Friday as having debunked “lies” about Ferrante’s background and contributed to knowledge about her work.
Claudio Gatti, an investigative reporter with Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore business daily, said he didn’t solve any real mystery since Ferrante’s true identity was an open secret within Italy’s literary circles.
“All I did was expose a lie,” he said: “I used the only thing that works: Follow the money.”
Gatti’s expose appeared in Il Sole, the New York Review of Books and French and German publications Sunday, sparking immediate criticism from Ferrante fans and fellow writers that he had invaded the author’s privacy. Neither the author nor the publisher has confirmed or denied the story.
Gatti concluded that Ferrante is a Rome-based translator of here — things like the political fragmentation of Germany, the habit of many different states, the habit of sharing power or not having one dominant capital — these are very strange things to a British or a French person,” said MacGregor, who has been tapped to lead a new cultural history museum in Berlin.
The exhibition illustrates that difference by showing coins from the many currencies of German states around 1700, when Britain had only one currency. And it highlights Germany’s history of fluid borders, with a section titled “German no more” featuring places such as Strasbourg and Koenigsberg German by tracing her salary with revenue from her publisher, Edizione E/0, and real estate records. Gatti pieced together the author’s personal history through historical archives, discovering that her mother was a Holocaust survivor who fled Nazi Germany for Italy only to have to flee to Switzerland when Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini imposed racial laws on Jews. The mother married a Neapolitan magistrate and settled in Rome, where the author grew up.
Ferrante’s quartet of novels about the lifelong friendship of two girls who grew up poor in post-war Naples has won fans around the world. The books detail the complexities of female friendship, the rise of feminism in Italy and the insidious normalcy of violence and organized crime in Italy’s poor south.
Speaking Friday at the Foreign Press Association, Gatti said his investigation merely debunked the story that Ferrante and her — now the Russian city of Kaliningrad — that at various points ceased to be part of the German-speaking world.
MacGregor acknowledged that German history is, for most people, dominated by the events of the 20th century. But he said “what we wanted to do is to put that story into a longer perspective.”
The exhibition includes works that illustrate the complexity of Germans’ relationship with their own history — such as a cast of the 1927 sculpture “The Floater” by Ernst Barlach, who returned from World War I a pacifist.
The angel-like figure, suspended from the ceiling, illustrates the grief of war. Much of Barlach’s work was confiscated as “degenerate art” under Nazi rule. An original cast was melted down in 1937, and copies were shown in both East and West Germany after World War II.
The British exhibition “opens up for us the view into the past and gives us back our own history, a journey that is astounding, rich and complex and shown in a very English way — very light, very confident,” said Thomas Oberender, artistic director of the organization that oversees the Martin-GropiusBau. publishers had sown over the years, especially in the autobiographical book “Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey.” The narrative is that Ferrante grew up poor in Naples, one of four daughters of a seamstress, with no mention of the Holocaust.
Ferrante’s heroines Lila and Lenu are “strong, powerful women who survived” — much as Ferrante’s own mother was a survivor of the 20th century’s worst horror, Gatti said.
Gatti, who said he loved the novels when he read them all in a row two years ago, said he didn’t set out to attack Ferrante but merely to understand who she was. He said he understood she was shy and believed that artwork should speak for itself.
“I’d like to know when, in the history of art in the world, there has been a work of art that has been damaged, impoverished or diminished by knowledge of who the artist is,” Gatti said. “I think knowing the artist enhances the art.”