The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
I recently read The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante and enjoyed the power of this book. I don’t think I’ve read a book yet on my way to 101 works of fiction that is packed with as many powerful lines in so short a work as this one, and there are some great, powerful words in this book. I’ve included a list of the passages I underlined while reading the book for you to soak in.
I wanted to write stories about women with resources, women of invincible words, not a manual for the abandoned wife with her lost love at the tope of her thoughts. … I didn’t like the impenetrable page, like a lowered blind. I liked light, air between the slats, I wanted to write stories full of breezes, if filtered rays where dust motes danced. And then I loved the writers who made you look through every line, to gaze downward and feel the vertigo of the depths, the blackness of inferno. pg 21
The contradictions in the life of a couple are many–I admitted–and I was working on ours in hopes of untangling and resolving them. pg 31
In this long hours I was the sentinel of grief, keeping watch along with a crowd of dead words. pg 32
…taught as wire digging into the flesh pg 35
Women without love lose the light in their eyes, women without love die while they are still alive. pg 44
Sometimes she gave me the feeling that she didn’t like me, as if she recognized in me something of herself that she hated, a secret evil of her own. pg 52
…You don’t speak to a father who sneaks into the house and leaves no trace of himself, not a hello, not a goodbye, not even a how are you. pg 58
Meanwhile I grabbed Mario, who was turning around with frightened eyes, his nose bleeding, and he looked at me full of terror and astonishment at once. Hold the commas, hold the periods. pg 70
A woman can easily kill on the street, in the middle of a crowd, she can do it more easily than a man. pg 72
A long passage of life together, and you think he’s the only man you can be happy with, you credit him with countless critical virtues, and instead he’s just a reed that emits sounds of falsehood, you don’t know who he really is, he doesn’t know himself. pg 74
We don’t know anything about people, even those with whom we share everything. pg 78
No, I thought, squeezing a rag and struggling to get up: starting at a certain point, the future is only a need to live in the past. pg 92
There was no distance between me and them, wheres the rule say that to tell a story you need first all of a measuring stick, a calendar, you have to calculate how much time has passed, how much space has been interposed between you and the facts, the emotions to be narrated. pg 98
Tricks of words, a swindle, maybe the promised land has no more words to embellish the facts. pg 98
The most innocuous people are capable of doing terrible things. pg 114
We fabricate objects in a semblance of our bodies, one side joined to the other. Or we design them thinking they’re joined as we are joined to the desired body. Creatures born from a banal fantasy. pg 131
Success depends on the capacity to manipulate the obvious with calculated precision. pg 131
What a mistake, above all, it had been to believe that I couldn’t live without him, when for a long time I had not been at all certain that I was alive with him. pg 140
How heavy a body that has been traversed by death is, life is light, there’s no need to let anyone make it heavy for us. pg 146
Not even the TV in one corner, transmitting the latest harsh news on the deeds of men…. pg 157
This book was written in Italian and translated into English. What I’ve already learned is that there is more packed into the Italian version that does not come across in the English translation. That’s hard to believe given the list of quotes from the book already included above. Elena Ferrante has a command with words and it is beautiful to read.
This is a passionate story. A husband leaves his wife and she is left to pick up the shattered pieces of her life. The book is worth a read. A couple readings, actually. The writing is among the best ever. Truly.