Italian journalist widely criticised for revealing identity of reclusive writer Elena Ferrante

Ferrante, the pseudonym of a reclusive Italian writer, had previously said she would give up writing if her name was announced

Italian journalist widely criticised for revealing identity of reclusive writer Elena Ferrante


A scandal is currently rocking the literary world in Italy, after an investigative journalist writing in the New York Review of Books claims to have unmasked the identity of one of the world’s best known and most secretive authors, Elena Ferrante.

Ferrante, a nom de plume chosen by the Italian writer, is the best-selling author of nine novels and is best known for her Neapolitan Novels series. Named one of the 100 most influential people on the planet by TIME magazine in 2016, despite only a handful of people knowing her true identity, Ferrante’s reclusive nature stems from her belief that “books, once they are written, have no need of their authors.”

While she has confirmed that she is indeed a woman, Ferrante has also said that she values her anonymity intensely, and has threatened to stop writing if details of her private life were ever made public.

Interviewed about her aloofness in the Paris Review last year, Ferrante said: “There is no work of literature that is not the fruit of tradition, of many skills, of a sort of collective intelligence. We wrongfully diminish this collective intelligence when we insist on there being a single protagonist behind every work of art. The individual person is, of course, necessary, but I’m not talking about the individual – I’m talking about a manufactured image. What has never lost importance for me, over these last two and a half decades, is the creative space that absence opened up.”

But despite avoiding the limelight for more than two decades as one of Italy’s leading writers, the mystery of who she is has long dogged literary circles. Now Claudio Gatti, a financial reporter for the Italian paper Il Sore 24 Ore, has announced that he has discovered her true identity.

Writing under the headline, Elena Ferrante: An Answer?, Gatti claimed that “after a months-long investigation it is now possible to make a powerful case for Ferrante’s true identity,” asserting that the woman behind the book cover is a translator responsible for reworking German novels into Italian for a publishing house. Details of Gatti’s investigation can be found here.

Both Gatti and the New York Review of Books have been criticised by those working in the publishing industry, as well as by fans of Ferrante, who had no desire to have their favourite author unmasked.

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