Medien|Denken – Alessia Ricciardi – Vertigo


Vertigo – Sexual Harassment in Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet


Through the father-and-son characters of Donato and Nino Sarratore, Ferrante’s epic tetralogy of Neapolitan novels dramatizes its protagonist Elena’s disturbing experience of sexual abuse in terms of repetition. In the end, no prospect of justice or emotional resolution offers itself to Elena as consolation for the harassment and misogynist aggression that she faces throughout the Neapolitan Quartet, particularly in light of the fact that she appears to forgive Donato over time. Through readings of the language and events of the four novels, I will investigate Ferrante’s fearless representation of women’s sexuality and the violence that they endure from men. This unflinching frankness, I will argue, is the political hallmark of Ferrante’s writing.

Biographical Note

Macht irgendwas mitAlessia Ricciardi is the Herman and Beulah Pearce Miller Research Professor in Literature and the director of the Program in Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern. She has a BA in philosophy from the University of Pisa, a DEA (master’s degree) from Paris VII in psychoanalysis, and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale University. Her main interests are French and Italian contemporary literature, cinema, political philosophy, psychoanalysis, and gender studies. Medien.

Natascha Frankenberg