“A Friendship” (Make-Up Post #2)

Elena and Lila from the T.V. show “My Brilliant Friend” based on the first novel of The Neapolitan Quartet of the same name

The Neapolitan Novels have finally come to a close and it is quite saddening to have to be separated from the story of Elena and Lila. Elena concludes this quartet with the final words that many have been anticipating and fearing: “…now that Lila has let herself be seen so plainly, I must resign myself to not seeing her anymore.” (473 Ferrante) In a friendship where two women have been bound so closely to each other in every aspect of their lives from early childhood late into adulthood, it seems almost impossible and suspicious that they will not reunite at least once more, later on in their lives. Even when Elena had attempted to avoid the inevitable influences of Lila, physically and mentally, the latter always found a way to push herself back in. Whether Elena felt grateful or numb to her perseverance, it is evident that Elena has been just as stubborn, herself. Lila has endured numerous unimaginable traumas and perhaps, for this reason, she begins a journey of erasing herself completely, so that she would not have to, one day, recall or read the memories of her ugly past. Perhaps, this is why Lila may feel as if she has been betrayed, for when Elena releases the book on their story of friendship, even after Lila severely denies wanting to have any of it written down, she must feel exposed to the world, knowing that the ugliness and violence of her life will become available in the hands of strangers across the world. But if Lila were a real person, at this very moment, I would like her to know that she need not be afraid of being exposed to the world because, as a reader, I have come to admire her in certain ways, despite her flaws, and I believe that although Lila has said that she is incapable of truly loving anyone, Elena is a person that her heart will always be bound to no matter what.

Final papers

Dear All,

This is a reminder that your final papers are due tomorrow, Dec. 19 by 2pm. Please use my email address: sp1122@hunter.cuny.edu. You can also share you paper as a blog post in addition to sending it.

Please email me the file in word if you want a feedback from me. If so, please specify it in the email. I am not going to make comments if you don’t have the intention to look at them. If you send a PDF I won’t be able to add comments.

I am planning on posting your final grades on Monday night.

You are almost done!


Hi All,

I was able to borrow a laptop from Hunter and to recover all my credentials. So I am able now to see my Hunter email from home. Please contact me at sp1122@hunter.cuny.edu if you need to.

Good luck with your finals.


If you need to contact me, exam, etc.

Dear All,

My computer died and I don’t have my CUNY emails on my phone. If you need to contact me please use my personal address: stef.porcelli@gmail.com. (please use this address also to send your final papers, which you can also post if you want to).

This page will be password protected in the near future. The pw will be TINA (all caps).

I have now finalized the text of the exam. It will be structured like this:

explain 4 keywords

one open question on the novel

one open question on secondary sources

One passage to analyze

I will be at Hunter (room HW1324) for my final day of writing tutoring on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 12.30-2.30.

See you all on Dec 18 at 9am for the exam.



Last class!

Dear All,

Thanks for another great discussion today. Please for next time come to class with at least an introduction, an outline and a bibliography (for each secondary sources write how you are going to use it). It would be useful to have 2 copies of this.

Keep in mind that the paper will be 7-10 page long. Try to use at least 3 secondary sources. Please let me know whether you want to share your final papers as a blog post, besides sending me the file.

I will start preparing the exam. Next week we can brainstorm what will be in the test. Please start thinking about:

  • keywords
  • possible open questions
  • the main arguments of the secondary sources we discussed in class

See you next week!



Translation of passages in German (by John Catalinotto)

Dear All,

Please find below the translation of some passages in German that are in the essay by Hirsch, provided by John. Thank you, John!

293 Footnote, Dilthey: “Thus these educational novels express the individualism of a culture which is restricted to the sphere of interest of private life. In the German middle and small states, the power of the state in officialdom and military affairs was opposed to the young generation of writers as a foreign force. They were enchanted and intoxicated by the discoveries of poets concerning the world of the individual and their self education.”

301 – Dilthey: These struggles are the apprenticeship years, teaching the individual about the realities that exist, and thereby preserving their true meaning. For the end of such apprenticeship years consists in the subject losing their antlers, entering with their desires and opinions into the existing conditions and their interconnection with the world and acquiring an appropriate standpoint in it.


304 – 1. The novel must open itself to reality in all its manifestations – political, social and societal realities – and reflect them faithfully. Therefore, it must also show the social shortcomings that make up a large part of contemporary reality.

304 – 2. But like any poetry, the novel must also idealize: it must make the ideas that sustain this reality visible, it must give a balanced, harmonious account, it must “reconcile”.

306 – Stifter: I have probably wanted to do something about the wickedness that in general … prevails in the state relations of the world, in its moral life and in poetry. I wanted to contrast a great simple moral force with miserable depravity.

The Promise Child

I was under the impression that there can only be one promise child. The reason for this is because throughout the Neapolitan Novels Lenu and Lila’s rivalry indicates a constant battle of who is the most successful. Whether it is social class or knowledge, both of them are constantly striving to gain the upper hand in their relationship. Naturally, I assumed that one of them would eventually rise above, and claim superiority over the other. Now that I am close to completing The Story Of the Lost Child. I wonder if I was presumptuous into believing that between Lenu and Lila; there could be only one to hold the title: the promise child.

I ask this because of a conversation between Lenu and her mother (151-153), in which she reveals that Lenu is the only child that she believed to be special. Because of Lenu’s divorce and her relationship with Rino, she claims that Lenu is lost. According to their conversation, Lenu was supposed to be a savior of the Greco family. She was supposed to use her knowledge to nurture her family, not use it to bring shamed to the family name. In addition, a similar revelation that occurred between Lila and Maestra Oliviero (178), in which she reveals to Lenu that Maestro Oliviero was disappointing in what Lila has become. Furthermore, Lila was supposed to be successful like Lenu. In my opinion, It is difficult to determine who is or was the promise child. The majority of the volumes illustrates Lila being deceitful and manipulative. Now Lenu is emanating these vile actions. I guess I’ll find out by the end

Crack Open the Goodness (Make-Up Post)

Enduring an earthquake does not only shatter the ground on which Lila and Elena tread upon, but their lives and the lives of those around them are ironically brought to a stand still, forcing them to focus on the present moment to put the pieces of their homes and families back together. The terror that envelops Lila during those tumultuous moments are more than just her constant nightmare of dissolving boundaries coming to life right before her eyes. Furthermore, it is a rude awakening that signals to Lila that despite her efforts to transform violence, hatred and corruption into a world of magnificent peace and beauty, there will always be outside forces present that will destroy those endeavors. Lila, in her constant energetic movements, helps friends here, creates a flourishing business there, destroys some of the corruption at its Solara roots, and attends to her family, reflecting her never ending attempts to escape the perilous rabbit hole of her neighborhood and discover a light at the end of the tunnel. In her desperate rants she admits to Lenu, “You remember when I married Stefano and I wanted the neighborhood to start again from the beginning, to be only beautiful things, the ugliness of before was not supposed to be there anymore. How long did it last?” (Ferrante 178). In Lila’s desperate period of terror, she now sees the earthquake as evidence that goodness is always overshadowed by malevolence and catastrophe, taking apart her good intentions and kindness, thread by thread. Her admiration for Stefano stemmed from his supposed desire to start peaceful relations among the families of the neighborhood and give up ancient resentments. Lila’s obsession with perfecting the grocery stores and the shoe store, aiding her friends with job placements and financial necessities had been reflections of her attempts to bring justice and peace to all the problems of her home. Yet all of this soon started to fall apart at the seams, from her marriage to her pregnancy to her familial relations. The unpredictable catastrophes that followed seemed to erase every good deed that Lila carried out and dissolve the goodness that she had seen in Stefano. At this moment, even as Lila has been able to acquire yet another position in which she is in control and is able to help her friends and family, yet again, mother nature retaliates as if to remind her that her intentions are useless, for instability will always triumph in the end. The world is an amorphous and unstable place and Lila is still struggling to understand that the goodness of the world cannot exist without the evil that constantly strives to silence it. If Lila is to triumph in ensuring that her neighborhood will not always remain a place of ugliness and tragedies, she must learn to accept that these malevolent forces are simply natural and do not guarantee a complete unraveling of the home she is knitting back together.