An Italian journalist has supposedly unmasked the true identity of fiction writer Elena Ferrante after years of speculation. While she had specifically said that she chose to remain anonymous to avoid attention and the media circus that would inevitably ensue, the journalist concludes his piece with this:
‘In an age in which fame and celebrity are desperately sought after, the person behind Ferrante apparently didn’t want to be known. But her books’ sensational success made the search for her identity virtually inevitable. It also left financial clues that speak by themselves.’
Assuming that everyone wants to be famous has become the norm. In the name of fame, he felt entitled to hack into her accounts and expose her. But it is his fame the man was thinking about all along. He’s supposedly made a name for himself and probably feels very proud for having violated a person’s basic right to privacy. And for what exactly?
Elena Ferrante isn’t a nazi criminal hiding in South America, a whistle blower or a corrupt judge. Her only crime is to not want fame which, nowadays, is unthinkable. And to focus on the writing process rather than on her status as a writer.
If he has indeed uncovered the real identity of Elena Ferrante, now what? One of the greatest literary mystery is solved, a woman has lost her right to a peaceful life and her novels will be analyzed to death in the light of her ‘real’ life. Because, at the bottom of all this, is the relentless need to pin down imagination – or square the circle – to the nth degree. Perish the thought that the extraordinary friendship of her two main characters in the Neapolitan novels might not be based on a friendship she’s had herself! How else could she have written about it so well? For undoubtedly, Jules Vernes travelled to the centre of the earth, Jane Austen was married and had children, Bret Easton Ellis is a serial killer and J. K Rowling a Quidditch champion, right?