The Brilliant Friend: Naples through the eyes of Lila and Lenù

by Arianna Giannetti

L'Amica Geniale: Napoli attraverso gli occhi di Lila e Lenù
Poster of the TV series The brilliant friend

Concluded the last page of "Story of a lost child“, The fourth book of the quadrilogy of Elena Ferrante, the heart does not seem to give itself peace. It seems too clear a conclusion, too bitter, despite the two thousand pages that the manuscript carries with it, despite the shameless dissection of all ugliness and horror.

It is a question of a labored, heavy, unhappy reading; in those sweaty and melancholy pages it is possible to perceive a whole new realism. We become part of the protagonists' lives and we live with them their youth, misery, meanness, desperate old age. Years go by and we grow with Lenù following its intertwined threads: boring us, moving us, very often falling with her and with Lila. Entering these dense words was like sinking slowly, Elena Ferrante she spares no one, not even herself.

L'Amica Geniale: Napoli attraverso gli occhi di Lila e Lenù
Lila and Lenù in the Luzzatti district interpreted in the TV series by Elisa del Genio and Ludovica Nasti

The friendship of the two girls, of the two girls, and of the two women above all, raises hidden questions, lifts the veil of the relationships we are used to. The figure of Lila is raised to unattainable levels, the pedestal on which Lenù places her will remain intact forever, will never collapse, not even in the face of the literary success of the narrator. In fact, even in old age, Elena Greco, prodigious writer, will be terrified of being overtaken by Lila's genius, and of having to definitively admit her subordination.

This does not happen, or at least it has not yet happened, but perhaps Lenù is still waiting, and we, who by now know her well, will be able to perceive her anguish forever. But maybe Lila's mind is too torn to even claim her due. There beautiful mind by Raffaella Cerullo bewitches and upsets: she is a devil, a saint, she is evil, selfless. It is a magnet capable of enthusing and entrancing, we are forced to live with Lenù the magnificent journey of this wreck, who between one delirium and another always gets up with a growing determination.

L'Amica Geniale: Napoli attraverso gli occhi di Lila e Lenù
Lila and Lenù read "Little Women"

Naples as the background of the brilliant friend

The protagonists are two, but in fact three. In the background is omnipresent Naples with its filth and its obscenities, Naples is stinking and voluptuous, and paradoxically also for good and full of opportunities. The centrality of the district plays a decisive role, eloquent are the words that the author adapts to the lips of Lenù's mother: "For her they were the most influential people in the ward, and therefore in the whole world. " The Neapolitan mentality of that retrograde and medieval South explodes in all their power in this little sentence, leaving us amazed, astonished. The recognize each other it's all there. The city has changed today, it is light years away from that violence, from that deeply rooted machismo, yet, reading its passages, adverbs, hearing its sighs, one can unfortunately confess itsactuality.

In the cynical and brutal world in which the author drags us, there is no salvation, moments of stability are defeated by misfortunes inconceivable, the serenity is momentary and annihilated by the storm of pain that hangs over the two women like a black cloud. This is what I mean by reading panting, one is always on the verge of drowning, of letting oneself go to the torment of events, at times I wondered where they found the strength to go on. Their complex friendship is also based on this; in the moments of greatest desperation of one, here comes the other, the only human being who has the right to guard the dismay. An insatiable addiction that has its roots in envy, esteem and love. They were able to climb the rocky mountain of life with a frenzied, aggressive tenacity: tearing their hair, their nails, wriggling in the hellish dimension of those stormy years. Modeling on each other, elbowing and screaming fiercely, gaining and losing everything.

l'amica geniale
Gaia Girace and Margherita Mazzucco interpret Lila and Lenù in the TV series "The brilliant friend"

The writing of Elena Ferrante is brilliant, highly successful is the analysis of each character, described with a sense of real very strong. Lenù is portrayed uncensored in all his insecurities and hesitations, his character a all round it is exactly what is expected of such an authentic and sincere style. Readers identify with her quickly, waiting with her for the alternation of events: first passively, then with greater initiative due to the metamorphosis and growth of the protagonist. Different figures rotate frantically around Lenù, each with its own history and desolation, but with their roots intertwined in the same ground. With Nino we savor the action of the social climber par excellence, he is able to make everything he says, touches, loves inconsistent; he will disfigure Lila with his impetuous love, and Lenù with his devoted one. He will let them trudge and finally, with one usual cowardice it will disappear into the dark abyss of Italian politics. With the brothers Solara instead we explore the immortal dynamics of Neapolitan Camorra, whose rules and hierarchies are rooted in the daily life of the protagonists with no way out; even the dream of Lila e Stephen, for the creation of a new district, will soon leave room for the undisputed hegemony of the strongest.

There is no denying that, we cannot help but realize the extent of theOpera that we have in front of us: "The brilliant friend”Is one of the most beautiful and interesting testimonies of Neapolitan literature. With her words Elena Ferrante managed to reach even America, where she had a resounding success, also thanks to the TV series aired on Rai 1.

Arianna Giannetti

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