Stig Abell, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, goes a step further. He says that the New York Review of Books shouldn’t have published a piece revealing the identity of an author who had so clearly expressed the wish not to be exposed. He writes:

I, too, would have been uneasy about the gender politics of all this.  Ferrante has talked about “male power, whether violently or delicately imposed, still bent on subordinating us”, and – while I am sure this was neither the motivation of Gatti or the NYRB – there is the regrettable, sulphurous whiff of a female artist being “mansplained” here.

Ferrante has said she wants anonymity in order to concentrate on her work, among other things. Abell makes the point that for those who profess to love the art, ”it would be abhorrent as well as self-defeating to ignore this writer’s clearly delineated withdrawal of consent.”

The trail that led Gatti to the woman he claims is Ferrante was one of payslips and property registers. There’s an uncomfortable sense, reading his evidence, that the author’s success—and her money—has laid her bare to scrutiny.

Do people who attain fame abdicate a certain right to privacy—to withhold consent to having things known about them? That’s a much-debated question. But perhaps that’s exactly why the woman behind Elena Ferrante didn’t want to be famous herself.

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