Stranden hos Elena Ferrante
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionK&K: kultur og klasse. 2020, 48 (130), 209-238. https://doi.org/10.7146/kok.v48i130.123640
This article makes a topocritical reading of the Mediterranean beach in four works by the Italian contemporary novelist Elena Ferrante: L’amore molesto (1992), La figlia oscura (2006), La spiaggia di notte (2007) and L’amica geniale (2011-2014). The topocritical approach is here to be understood as the examination of the role played by geographical places in the formation of literary themes. The article argues that the beach as a setting has an important formative function in the development of key themes in Ferrante’s works, related to complex mother-daughter relations, gender roles, and social class. The analysis reveals how the texts mobilise and play with a set of culturally and historically conditioned perceptions of the beach: the border zone, the liminal area, the free zone, and the domesticated landscape. These perceptions serve to construct the beach as a symbolically charged landscape, which in turn helps shape the psychological, emotional, and social processes that the literary characters go through. The notion of the liminal area is particularly important, turning the beach into an emblematic place for the author’s thematization of in-between-ness.