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Ariadne and the Minotaur

Symbolic & Literal Labyrinth in Elena Ferrante's "My Brilliant Friend"

March 27, 2019
6:30 pm

A lecture by
Stiliana Milkova, Oberlin College

This talk explores Naples as the architectonic setting of Elena Ferrante’s novel My Brilliant Friend through the lens of classical mythology and urban sociology. It examines the city – and more specifically, the neighborhood or the rione – as a symbolic and literal labyrinth, an architectural manifestation of the patriarchal order which structures and oppresses the feminine body and psyche. The talk follows Ferrante’s two female protagonists, Lila and Elena, as they negotiate the labyrinth of the rione and face the monster-Minotaur of their childhood, thereby articulating new ways of resisting male-dominated urban space.

Stiliana Milkova is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Oberlin College. She is the author of six scholarly articles on Elena Ferrante and has organized several panels and conferences on the Italian writer. She also works on Russian and Bulgarian literatures, on literature and the visual arts, and on literary translation. She has translated from Italian short stories by Alessandro Baricco, Antonio Tabucchi, and Dario Voltolini. Professor Milkova is the editor of Reading in Translation, an online journal dedicated to literary translation.