Mapping Turin's Urban Topography in Elena Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment
Much attention has been paid to Naples as the setting of Elena Ferrante's novels. But her tetralogy My Brilliant Friend (L'amica geniale 2011-2014) features a narrative frame set in the city of Turin. Turin is also the topographic background of her second novel, The Days of Abandonment (I giorni dell'abbandono, 2002; translated in English in 2005). In this article, I examine Ferrante's spatial poetics by charting the walking routes of Olga, the narrator of The Days of Abandonment. I approach The Days of Abandonment as a spatial story, a narrative contingent on the protagonist's walking in the city, on her body's negotiating a hostile urban cityscape. I traverse the novel's urban text punctuated by concrete sites-fountains and street intersections, urban signs and graffiti, public urinals and bronze monuments-to locate the novel's narrative events on Turin's map. The itineraries that I trace position Olga in a real-life topography that oppresses her body and psyche. This plotting of her body onto Turin's map offers a topographic lens through which to explore urban space and culture as they inform the feminine physical and psychic landscapes in a contemporary Italian cityscape. Read through its itineraries and urban sites, The Days of Abandonment constitutes a feminine walking tour of Turin, mapping the intersections of women's bodies and cityscapes.
Milkova, Stiliana. 2021. "Mapping Turin's Urban Topography in Elena Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment." Italian Culture 39(1).
Russian and East European Studies
Special issue: After the Convergence.
Elena Ferrante, Turin, The Days of Abandonment, Spatial story, Walkng, City map, Topography, Feminine psyche