Friday, December 18, 2015

"He's rich," I said to her finally. But even as I said that I realized how the idea of the riches girls dreamed of was changing further. The treasure chests full of gold pieces that a procession of servants in livery would deposit in our castle when we published a book like Little Women - riches and fame - had truly faded. Perhaps the idea of money as a cement to solidify our existence and prevent it from dissolving, together with the people who were dear to us, endured. But the fundamental feature that no prevailed was concreteness, the daily gesture, the negotiation . . . it was, in short, wealth that existed in the facts of every day, and so was without splendor and without glory. . . . Wealth . . . was taking the form of a young man in a greasy apron, was gaining features, smell, voice, was expressing kindness and goodness, was a male we had known forever. . . . I was disturbed."

. . . .

"Then time passed, Marcello and Michele bought a green Giulietta and began to act like masters of the neighborhood again. Alive and well, bigger bullies than before. A sign perhaps that Lila was right; with people like that, you had to fight them by living a superior life, such as they couldn't even imagine."

. . . .

"Then she added a sentence that I will always remember: 'The beauty of mind that Cerullo had from childhood didn't find an outlet, Grecco, and it has all ended up in her face, in her breasts, in her thighs, in her ass, places where it soon fades and it will be as if she never had it."

. . . .

"I thought how contradictory [my mother] was, without realizing it, her rages, with those imperious gestures. She hadn't wanted me to to go to school, but now that I was going to school she considered me better than the boys I had grown up with, and she understood, as I myself now did, that my place was not among them. Yet here was was insisting that I stay with her, to keep me from who knows what stormy sea, from who knows what abyss or precipice, all dangers that at the moment were represented in her eyes by Antonio. But staying near her meant staying in her world, becoming completely like her. And if I became like her, who would not be right for me if not Antonio?"

- My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante

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