The wonderful friend: Elena Ferrante

The great friend

The great friend

The great friendThe brilliant friend, by its original title in Italian—is the first volume of a saga of contemporary novels written by the anonymous author known under the pseudonym Elena Ferrante. The work was initially published in March 2016 by the publisher Penguin Random Houston. Subsequently, it was translated into Spanish and launched on the market by the Lumen label in 2020. Since then, the book has become a true phenomenon.

Throughout its existence, The great friend It has been exported to more than 42 countries, captivating at least twenty million readers. worldwide. Some media outlets, including The Guardian, claim that this novel has all the potential to obtain a well-deserved Nobel Prize in literature. On the other hand, the novel already has critical recognition and also its own adaptation into a television series.

Synopsis of The great friend

About the context of the work

The first volume of the saga Two friends recreates the lives of Lenùs and Lila, who lived since their respective childhoods in a poor neighborhood of Naples, Italy, in the mid-XNUMXth century. Elena Ferrante's pen hovers with simplicity to relate the way in which Both women face a system dominated by machismo, violence and street law. In this context: he is the strongest who always survives, many times, leading everyone else into the darkness of a world with no way out.

The great friend It is a story of friendship and courage, but also of envy, jealousy, rivalries, admiration... The ambivalence of the feelings expressed by the protagonists reveals a depth of their character, because, although they distance themselves on many occasions, they always find a way to meet. This happens because one is the other's refuge, their safe place away from misery and obligations acquired in no man's land.

Part one: Childhood. History of Don Archille

The great friend It is presented with Lenùs' story about his childhood in the company of Lila. The latter was the riskiest of the two, and also the most combative, beautiful, pleasant and intelligent. For her part, Lenùs was the shy and obedient girl, although sometimes she ended up supporting the terrible antics of her partner. The setting for her games was the residence building of “El Coco”, better known as Don Archille. But these anecdotes were not all laughter and joy.

The neighborhood was dangerous for children and for dreams, which is clearly exposed through bad words and constant fights between students at school. This It is not a conducive environment to emerge. However, despite all the deficiencies of the educational system of the time, Some teachers got it right with the way to encourage a little healthy competition. among students, proposing mathematical and other challenges.

The unromantic analysis of a childhood without privileges

Through Lenùs, Elena Ferrante describes a stark walk through her first years in the neighborhood. The narrator comments that she does not look at the past with nostalgia, because it was loaded with violence and a lack of opportunities that she does not miss.

Likewise, It is said that women had to hurt other girls before the latter would do it to the former., because they were all seeking to survive. However, the environment helped change Lila's rebellious tendencies.

The young woman, possessed of prodigious intelligence, He took refuge in his studies to face his father's constant blows. She dreamed of reaching the full potential of her brilliant mind, capable of solving complex arithmetic exercises in a matter of seconds, and writing better than anyone in the entire school.

Still, Despite his efforts, Fernando, his father, prevented him from continuing to go to school., so he had to settle for basic education.

Second part: Adolescence. history of shoes

During this section of the novel Lenùs recounts the tribulations of Lila's and her own adolescence. This stage was marked by age-related frustrations, as well as love affairs., first courtships, the incessant attempt to build a self different from the parental references, in addition to other concerns.

At the same time, the plot expands on Lila's broken dreams, who did not have the opportunity to study high school. Meanwhile, Lenùs, less prominent, but with more opportunities, manages to achieve higher education with the support of his family.

Despite its obvious difficulties, Lila spends time in the library and studies in secret. Soon, becomes excellent in latin and greek, apart from being an assiduous and talented reader.

At the same time, the girl helps her friend with her classes, because, although she has had the opportunity to finish her tuition, Lenùs is still not as intelligent as his partner. This is reflected in moments of jealousy and outstanding envy that, on the other hand, is never enough to completely distance them.

About the author, Elena Ferrante

There is not much that the media has managed to discover about the real identity of Elena Ferrante. However, The most widespread information is that the real name of this Italian author is Anita Raja. Supposedly, this award-winning and prolific writer was born in a town in Naples, Italy. It is said that she subsequently moved to Greece and then to Turin, where she settled to publish most of her works.

The writer has never regretted her anonymity, in fact, she considers it an advantage. And, according to her, readers have a better experience of the books they read if there is no condition regarding the image of the author. She asserts that it is much better to discover the personality, pen, tone and character of a writer through his title, and not through a superficial conception of his person.

Other works by Elena Ferrante


  • Harassing loveAnnoying love (1992);
  • The days of abandonmentThe days of abandonment (2002);
  • The dark daughterThe dark daughter (2006);
  • History of the new surnamea bad name (2012);
  • Cronache of bad loveChronicles of heartbreak (2012);
  • History of those who flee and those who remainThe debts of the body (2013);
  • Story of the lost childThe lost girl (2014);
  • La Vita bugiarda degli AdultiThe lying life of adults (2019)

Children's Stories

  • La spiaggia di notteThe forgotten doll (2007)


  • The frantumaglia (2003)

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