Elena Ferrante’s Visual Poetics: Ekphrasis in Troubling Love, My Brilliant Friend, and The Story of a New Name
Prominent instances of ekphrasis—the literary description of an artwork—play a crucial role in Ferrante’s narratives. This chapter examines Ferrante’s strategic employment of visual images and articulates the role of ekphrasis as a narrative, thematic, and figurative device in Troubling Love, My Brilliant Friend, and The Story of a New Name. . Milkova’s contention is that the ekphrasis of paintings and photographs in Ferrante’s novels operates as a visual metaphor for the patriarchal mechanisms of oppression, violence, and objectification of women. She argues that ekphrasis also allows an exit out of patriarchy and posits woman as an autonomous artist figure who wields creative, constructive power and who can thus resist the dominant order. Ekphrasis constructs and reinforces the patriarchal paradigm but ultimately resists and inverts it from within.
Milkova, Stiliana. “Elena Ferrante’s Visual Poetics: Ekphrasis in Troubling Love, My Brilliant Friend, and The Story of a New Name.” In Reconfiguring the Margins, The Works of Elena Ferrante: History, Poetics, and Theory, edited by Grace Russo Bullaro and Stephanie Love, 159-182. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
Ekphrasis, Visual art, Visual and verbal representation