The Narrative Function of Clothing in Elena Ferrante’s Troubling Love

  • Carmela Pesca
parole chiave: Mother-daughter relation, Elena Ferrante, narrative body, clothing, amorphousness

abstract

Elena Ferrante’s first published novel Troubling Love deals with the dark side of the mother-daughter relation as no other of her works. The narration takes the form of a painful assembly of events, dealing with both rupture and continuity between the narrator Delia and the story’s protagonist, her mother Amalia. Essentially, Delia sews images together as they emerge from her visceral, rather than intellective or even imaginative revisiting of her childhood and adolescence. Amalia’s drowned body is progressively dressed by Delia’s pieces of memory, equivalent to clothing items that shape the narrative’s fabric. Part of the communication among different characters happens through exchange of clothes, fabric and lingerie, corresponding to their attempts to tailor Amalia’s narrative in the name of their troubled love, which comes in different patterns. Delia’s recollections of episodes of domestic violence, however, convey laceration and amorphousness, as she continuously stitches and makes adjustments, whereas no clothes or narratives can contain the true Amalia. This essay intends to highlight the path along which the narration’s thread runs. It explores the correspondences between the text’s form and content, and analyzes the narrator’s struggle to come to terms with a character whose very substance remains unreachable, encrypted in her old garments that have resisted violence, manipulation, and imposition of forms.

Biografia autore

Carmela Pesca

Carmela Pesca è professoressa ordinaria di lingua, letteratura e studi culturali italiani presso la Central Connecticut State University, dove attualmente ricopre l’incarico di capo dipartimento di Lingue Moderne. Dopo essersi laureata in Sociologia presso l’Università di Salerno, ha conseguito il Master e il Ph.D. in Letteratura italiana presso l’Università del Connecticut. Oltre ad aver pubblicato saggi basati sulla sua attività di ricerca, ha partecipato come relatrice a numerosi convegni internazionali. Le sue pubblicazioni comprendono: il libro La città maschera. Geometria e dinamica della città rinascimentale (Ravenna: Longo, 2002); articoli  su vari argomenti di letteratura italiana pubblicati da riviste specializzate come The Italianist, Italian Culture, Il Veltro, Italica, Forum Italicum, Il lettore di provincia, e Italian Quarterly; un saggio sulla famiglia e le questioni di genere dal titolo Italian and Italian-American Families Today: A Comparative Perspective (Melbourne: Common Ground, 2004); l’articolo  Intercultural Understanding in Language Education (New York: Sound Instruction Books, 2015). Ha lavorato a lungo sull’integrazione di letteratura, arte e cinema nei corsi d’Italiano, sull’uso di prospettive critiche nell’insegnamento delle lingue, e sulle interazioni fra lingua e cultura.

pubblicato
2017-10-20
come citare
Pesca, C. «The Narrative Function of Clothing in Elena Ferrante’s Troubling Love». Altrelettere, ottobre 2017, doi:10.5903/al_uzh-35.
fascicolo
Sezione
articoli