Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet: Rebuilding the Bildungsroman


Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet – an almost continuous rave of interconnected love and desire, anger and violence – is also a story of the protagonist’s struggle to make sense of her life by writing it. She turns a traditional genre of a young person’s coming of age into a neurologically realistic portrait of the growth of an artist by multiplying narrative voices and by ignoring conventional bounds of narrative probability. Her story of the growth of a creative mind adumbrates well the picture of brains and their processes currently being described and developed as a “predictive processing” model. Work in neurobiology and neurophysiology has been producing empirical demonstrations of the centrality of failure to successful human cognition.

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