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Elena Ferrante as architecture


At the Paris Review website, Matteo Pericoli, founder of the Laboratory of Literary Architecture, images Elena Ferrante’s celebrated novel My Brilliant Friend as a building (pictured above). The building takes as its thematic and structural foundation the complex friendship between the two main characters in the novel, Lila and Elena. For more images of the building and Pericoli’s explanation of the design, visit the Paris Review. Here’s an excerpt:

Now that we know that this is My Brilliant Friend, let’s try to analyze and allow ourselves to be transported by the stresses that occur within its architectural elements. As with structural calculations, the reading and interpreting of a building of this kind are not at all linear and predictable, but rather fluid and certainly not univocal.

It is evident that if one of the two elements were to be missing, the other would have no reason to exist. Without Lila there would be no Elena, and vice versa.

There are points in the structure where it is not clear in which direction stress is expressed. The weight is transferred from the supporting structure onto the supported one—a problem for both the calculations and the idea we were getting of the relationship between Lila and Elena.

Image via Paris Review.