But no, they talk, they give interviews

The Columbia Journalism Review interviewed Claudio Gatti yesterday.

What’s your response to those who say she’s entitled to her privacy? That she’s not a mafia boss or politician, but just a writer of fiction?

No, she’s not. But she’s a major public figure. Do you know who the Italian minister of the economy is?


Do you know who the CEO of the Italian oil company is?


But you do know who Elena Ferrante is. What I’m saying is, the biggest mystery about Italy from outside Italy is, “Who is Elena Ferrante?” It is a major issue, not that I made it such. When readers buy books by the millions, they have a legitimate desire to know more about who wrote the book. I’m not saying that; Sandra Ozzola said and wrote that.

Point comprehensively missed. The issue about politicians and CEOs and mafia bosses isn’t whether or not we know who they are without looking it up, it’s the power they have. They have real, material power; novelists don’t. That’s the relevant difference when it comes to the right to remain anonymous.

It doesn’t matter how big the mystery is. The size of a mystery doesn’t determine our right to know its solution.

There’s the already-notorious Trump-impersonation:

Do you have any regrets about doing this story?

Absolutely not. None whatsoever. All the people that hate me for what I wrote are bad people, and I don’t mind the fact that they hate me.

The likeness is uncanny.

What about her personal preference to remain private? 

It is her personal preference; we know that. But then if it is, you don’t fuel the frenzy with Frantumaglia, you just say “I’m sorry, I’m not giving interviews.” But no, they talk, they give interviews, they write a fictional autobiographical book, and then they say, “I want to keep my privacy.”

Right, and if you don’t want to be raped, you stay home with the doors locked. You don’t fuel the frenzy by going out, you just stay inside with the curtains closed. But no, they go out, they walk around, they talk and laugh, and then they say, “I don’t want to have sex with you.”

Explain to me how knowing that Elena Ferrante is Anita Raja would change anything for readers. I really don’t get it. Why would it change anything? People read the books because they are fascinated by them. I don’t see what argument she could have to claim that she needed to be out of the public eye to write fiction. She had no reason to hide anything. I’ve proven that there is no autobiographical information in any of her books. How can the ability of Ferrante to capture the inner lives of women in any way require her to be shielded from the public sphere?

It doesn’t matter. It’s not for Gatti or any of us to decide that for her. It’s not our decision to make. There is no law or rule against writing books anonymously, and it is just bullying to out people against their clearly stated wishes. Gatti does not get to substitute his judgment for hers on a question of her right to be anonymous.

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