Article published in:Real Fictions: Fictionality, factuality and narrative strategies in contemporary storytelling
Edited by Sam Browse, Alison Gibbons and Mari Hatavara
[Narrative Inquiry 29:2] 2019
► pp. 391–417
The “dissolving margins” of Elena Ferrante and the Neapolitan novels
A cognitive approach to fictionality, authorial intentionality, and autofictional reading strategies
Using Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels as case study, this article presents a cognitive approach to fictionality and authorial intention using Text World Theory and Mind-Modelling. It investigates two forms of ontological distortion: readers’ (mis)classification of the novels’ genre (as autofiction or autobiography) and the problem posed by the author’s pseudonymic identity. The analysis has three parts: first, I conduct a Text World analysis of the novels’ syntactic/stylistic similarities to autobiography and, in doing so, reveal its ontological structure; second, I consider the ontological liminality of narration and the ways in which readers build an authorial mind-model of Ferrante; thirdly, I explore the assessment of critics and/as readers of the text’s fictionality and the impact of Ferrante’s pseudonym on perceptions of authorial intentionality and the authorial mind-model. Ultimately, I argue that a cognitive approach offers greatest insight into readers’ interpretations of authors and of fictionality.
Keywords: author, authorial intentionality, autofiction, cognitive narratology, cognitive stylistics, Elena Ferrante, fictionality, mind-modelling, pseudonym, Text World Theory
Published online: 16 October 2019
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Cited by 2 other publications
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