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Translating the mysteries of Naples

In discussion about Italian writer Elena Ferrante and her city of choice, topics range from identity to authenticity, Yang Yang reports.

By Yang Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-09 10:03

Annamaria Guadagni is the author of The Legend of Elena Ferrante, which tries to unveil Ferrante's true identity.[Photo provided to China Daily]

At a recent book event about The Legend of Elena Ferrante at the embassy of Italy in Beijing, two Chinese scholars joined author Annamaria Guadagni in talking about the identity of the mysterious Italian writer.

The event was part of the XXIII Settimana Della Lingua Italiana Nel Mondo (the 23rd World Italian Language Week) in China.

Ferrante's books, including the Neapolitan Novels, have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold more than 10 million copies across the world, since they were published in 2011. The final season of an HBO adaptation of the novels is to be due out this year. Since being introduced to China in 2017, they have become one of the most talked about series of novels in the country. On review site Douban alone, about 350,000 people have left ratings.

However, for the last 30 years, the writer's identity has remained unknown. In her book, Guadagni tries to unveil Ferrante's identity and a Chinese translation of the book has now come out.

Guadagni says that she decided to write the book after a reporter disclosed the writer's identity in what she considered an improper way in 2016.

"The reporter identified Ferrante as an actual person, based on information provided by her publishers, but I believe that she is a fictional narrator, a voice. Of course, there is a real person behind the books, but I feel that he or she is different to Ferrante, who is a fictional voice that has been shaped over the last 30 years.

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