After 10 books in August, 3 in September is quite a come down. This is what happens when you’ve back at work and various life distractions take over. I could have sworn there was another for the month but it’s taking me a while to get through The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante.
I guess most of the reading community will have also seen by now that the little creep, Claudio Gatti, decided to expose the real person behind the pseudonym. How desperate was he for his time in the spot light! Why could he not, like so many others, just respect the fact that Ferrante doesn’t want us to know his or her real identity. It makes me angry to hear the journalist say readers have a right to know who the author is. I don’t think we do. The intrigue is not knowing the author as you’re reading the book. When you’re reading for the story not because someone’s name is on the cover.
He said: “Millions of [Ferrante’s] books are bought by readers. I have to be honest and say this quote made me laugh. Readers buying books. Who would have thought it?
“In a way I think readers have the right to know something about the person who created the work.”
No. Nope. Uh uh. Nup. Nada. Nein. Non. Nee. Votch. Nej. Nie. Nu. Net. Nage.
When did all the readers of Ferrante’s work give Gatti the go ahead to invade the privacy of someone who clearly didn’t want the attention. Personally, I was happy with respecting the wishes of Ferrante. Was I curious? Sure and I’ll bet I’m not the only curious bunny but it wasn’t my right to know.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “I did it because she was a very much public figure.”
Again with a statement based in a reality only Gatti lives in. How does a pseudonym become a “public figure”. Up until he cruelly and shamefully outed the person he believes to be Ferrante, there had been no public figure in the usual sense. There were no recorded interviews for radio or tv. There were no photos. There were only written responses to questions emailed.
This does not, in my mind, equate to “public”.
What this does equate to is a man imposing his non existent rights on the life and and work of a woman. Gatti has continued the male / female dichotomy or powerful / submissive and in doing so, proven there is a problem within society when this is applauded as good “investigative journalism”. (And in this, I break it down to the minimum oppositions as I am fully aware of how hard other communities are working and struggling to gain their rights).
As Deborah Orr writes, as far as I’m concerned, Gatti has violated my right not to know.
“We just think that this kind of journalism is disgusting. Searching in the wallet of a writer who has just decided not to be public,” said Sandro Ferri.
Ferri’s right. 100%.
From Erri De Luca to Loredana Lipperini (who writes under a pseudonym), the consensus among top Italian writers was that the alleged outing of Ferrante was a dark day for journalism and that her work ought to speak for itself. One Roman paper questioned whether Gatti had pursued Ferrante with a “fury that was worthy of a better cause”.
Gatti goes on to accuse Ferrante of lying. I can only say to this, FREAKING DUH!! The author is using a PSEUDONYM! This means there is no need to be truthful with a biography. How does Gatti not comprehend this? Gatti says there were inconsistencies with her story? Fine. But there are inconsistencies in mine. There will be the same problems in his. We tell people about our lives in as much or as little detail as we feel necessary at the time. An acquaintance doesn’t have the right to know more about you than a close friend who has seen you through the black days.
On a slightly separate track, Hodder and Stoughton proved with their #readwithoutprejudice promotion of Jodi Picoult’s new book that it is possible to read a book based on the story being told. You only have to look at social media to see the campaign worked.
Ultimately, it does not matter how politely we ask for privacy, how we try to protect our own space, there is always someone determined to peer in, to make us listen. Jojo Moyes
And Mr Gatti,
Further Reading to the articles referenced in text;
‘Stop the siege of Elena Ferrante,’ says publisher amid unmasking row
Unmasking of Italian writer Elena Ferrante triggers writers’ privacy row
Elena Ferrante and the Power of Appropriation
Kim Kardashian West, Elena Ferrante, and the Right to Privacy