Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ferrante's Triology: A New Divine Journey

Amidst the failure of the Israeli State's heart to recognize the suffering of another people for so long under its domination, and the resulting living hopeless anger on the streets, amidst many daily moments of uncertainty of my body, and attempts at new organizing with my Women in Black comrades, amidst the pages of the past that flood our dining room table--the early history of LHA, I read to the last word on the last page, Ferrante's depiction of the infernos of the heart and history, of two women's push and pull to find selves they could live with, carrying the legacy of the old neighborhood of working class Naples into new historical and geographical territories but always drawn back to their childhood wonders and torments of family rages and political courage. But it was as a writer, a very small writer, that I was clinging to each relentless word, to each refusal to make her narrator more then she could be. Last month I read for the first time, Dante's epic work, his geography of lost souls so known to us and then his less compelling shining almost mathematical paradise. As Dante created modern Italian to tell his huge story flecked with historical sinners, so Ferrante never lets us forget that the choice of when to speak in dialect and Italian, if one has that choice, is central to her characters' journeys. I am sounding too much like an academic--perhaps a bad one--and I can hear Lila's harsh laughter at my pretense. Ferrante gives us worlds and takes them away all at the same time, the grand sad all we- have- tide of human endeavor. I felt her world slipping by as the words entered me, knowing, as a writer, the page empties itself of meaning with each turning and no Paradise awaits. Two created women took us through the history of mid 20th century Naples and it felt like the world. "Unlike stories, real life, when it has passed, inclines toward obscurity, not clarity." Only the clarity that I am so grateful I lived long enough to hold and let go of Lila.   

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