Reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels with the Grain. The View of a Female Academic from Southern Italy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Following the global success of Elena Ferrante’s quadrilogy L’amica geniale (2011-14), known in Anglophone countries as the Neapolitan Novels (2012-15), critics have been investigating those aspects that make it an example of the ‘Global Novel’ or ‘World Literature’. Contrary to this trend, I offer a subjective and situated reading that examines the challenges that the quadrilogy has posed for me, a female academic from the Neapolitan region who works in an English university. Thus, I develop a critical practice of surface reading, or reading with the grain, based on my own reader response and with a non-professional readership in mind. In the process of scrutinizing my own identifications and resistances, I assess the transformative potential of the story and of the protagonists’ lives. My discussion is driven by the question of whether and how reading the Neapolitan Novels moves me, and possibly other readers, to reflect, question, and change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen in Transition. Crossing Boundaries, Crossing Borders
EditorsMaria-José Blanco, Claire Williams
Place of PublicationNew York & Abingdon
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780367771638
ISBN (Print)9780367443061
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021
EventWomen in Transition — Crossing Borders, Crossing Boundaries - King's College London & St Peter's College Oxford, London & Oxford, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Sep 201822 Sep 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Comparative Literature


ConferenceWomen in Transition — Crossing Borders, Crossing Boundaries
Abbreviated titleWomen in Transition
CountryUK United Kingdom
CityLondon & Oxford
Internet address


  • Elena Ferrante
  • L’amica geniale
  • Neapolitan Novels
  • female friendship
  • reading with the grain
  • surface reading
  • writing & reading for change
  • female genius

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