Sunday, October 16, 2016

On the Attempt to "Out" Elena Ferrante's True Identity

I was upset to hear that an Italian “investigative reporter,” Claudio Gatti, is trying to unmask the identity of Elena Ferrante. Ferrante is a pseudonym for the author of the highly-praised and internationally bestselling Neopolitan Series and other well-received novels. She has given a few interviews, but for the most part has been adamant about preserving her privacy. She feels it allows her to be freer in her writing, and to keep readers focused on her work rather than on her as an author, her appearance, her marital status, and all the other things that readers often want to know about famous writers. But now Gatti has chosen to investigate her identity and to write publicly, first in Italian and then in English, about his conclusions about her true name and identity. (I will not give the name here, as I disagree with this kind of involuntary “outing,” but of course if you really want to know, you can Google it.) Most fellow writers, and many of us readers, are outraged and unhappy about this intrusion on Ferrante's wish for anonymity. Gatti may or may not turn out to be correct, but in any case, it is a sort of violation of Ferrante’s intent, and of her privacy. A sample response from the writer Roxane Gay is her tweet that “You are entitled to curiosity but you aren’t entitled to having your curiosity satisfied.” To add to the outrage, Gatti seems to intimate that the author he identifies may have been aided in her writing by her writer husband. So his actions are not only violations of privacy but also sexist. I know that some people may argue that writers are public persons and don’t have the right to privacy, but I don’t believe most people would agree with this. This may be true for politicians, but not for writers.
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