As she listens to the stories the adults around her tell to explain their lives, Giovanna, the protagonist of Elena Ferrante’s new novel, navigates the crisis of her adolescence, arriving at her own understanding of how to become an adult—and how beauty and truth figure into that journey.
A good story may seem to transform experience into myth, but as Molly Aitken’s debut novel explores, it cannot expunge the realities of the past. Nor is the world of myth any good place actually to live.
The darkness of the future may not mean that anything is possible, but it certainly means that no particular outcome is certain. This uncertainty is the grounds of hope; it also means that hope in itself is insufficient. Hope demands that we work to build a better future on
We could try to protect ourselves at this time from dread, despair, and our own fury; or, like Ross Gay, we could seek delight, and find through it a doorway into engagement in the world, painful as it might be.
A library is not just a building, nor can it keep books entirely sealed off from the rest of the world—a library is also a network of books speaking of books, “as if they spoke among themselves.”
The quiet, steadfast heroine of Jane Austen’s final novel, Anne Elliot, has lived a life of much sorrow. After my mother’s death, the melancholy of her character offered me a safe way to experience the sorrow and loneliness that I otherwise kept at bay.
Magda Szabó’s 1970 novel is an unusual coming-of-age story—the willful heroine finds her place in society not by learning to comply with its demands, but by learning the art of dissent.
As we move toward an inevitable-seeming apocalypse, Rachael Nevins turns to three of Gibson’s novels, hoping to assuage her fear and sort through her disorientation.
Over the course of Ferrante’s new essay collection, her commentary on the contingencies of telling both truth and lies shines new light on the relationship between narrative and the frightening reality she has elsewhere called the "frantumaglia."
Though Catherine Morland may be neither Austen’s cleverest nor her wisest heroine, the story of how her naiveté is transformed to discernment is no less compelling, showing that understanding others takes a combination of good faith and imagination, tempered by experience.