Very Queer Friends

Alba de Céspedes’ Dalla parte di lei and Elena Ferrante’s La vita bugiarda degli adulti


  • Selby Schwartz Stanford University


parole chiave:

queer friendship, transmasculinity, literary genealogies, Alba de Céspedes, Elena Ferrante



Elena Ferrante has long acknowledged the influence of Alba de Céspedes’ 1949 novel Dalla parte di lei on her writing, particularly in terms of conceiving female characters. In Ferrante’s newest novel, La vita bugiarda degli adulti, the prominent theme of queer friendship between young women echoes and reconfigures elements from Dalla parte di lei. This article delves into the capacious queer relationality depicted in both novels, tracing the presence of transmasculinity and feminist re-writing as key elements in both. Situating the two novels’ representations of women’s intimacy in their socio-literary contexts, I analyze the ways in which they utilize models like the «fiamma», romantic friendship, sisterhood, and female husbands. Neither author identifies as lesbian or queer; thus my close reading of the frankly sexual and deeply romantic scenes between female characters seeks not to assign the writers or their books to a category, but rather to elaborate the queer dimensions of relationality that they explore. Ultimately, I propose that a significant part of what makes these queer, lesbian, and transmasculine representations possible is a shared feminist project of reading, writing, and rewriting from one’s own perspective: dalla parte di lei. In this sense, what Ferrante’s narrator-protagonist Giovanna owes to de Céspedes’ narrator-protagonist Alessandra is not only the possibility of a queer life and a feminist voice, but the potential for narrating queer feminist experience as relational.




come citare

Schwartz, Selby. «Very Queer Friends: Alba De Céspedes’ Dalla Parte Di Lei and Elena Ferrante’s La Vita Bugiarda Degli Adulti». Altrelettere, vol. 9, febbraio 2020, pagg. 1-23, doi:10.5903/al_uzh-45.