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Rachel Donadio came to her conclusion reluctantly. She is a fan of Elena Ferrante’s novels, and also a close reader. When she believed that she had the answer to the mystery of Ferrante’s identity, she had to share it. In today’s issue, Rachel unravels Ferrante’s story.  — Matt Peterson

What to Know: The Neapolitan Novels

By Rachel Donadio

The Literary Mystery We’re Obsessed With: For years, I and other readers have wondered about the identity of Elena Ferrante, the pseudonymous Italian author best known for her internationally best-selling series of four Neapolitan novels. Now the subject of a miniseries on HBO and RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, her novels trace the life of two girls from their childhood in Naples to the present day. They are unsparing in their portraits of women in all stages of their life and are seen as modern feminist classics. After years of close reading, mostly in Italian, I believe I’ve cracked the mystery of Ferrante’s identity—and what I’ve found is not so simple.  

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