“Promotion is expensive”: Elena Ferrante on anonymity

Elena Ferrante’s determination to remain out of the public eye has been a source of fascination for the media and her readers. On 21 September 1991, immediately prior to the publication of her debut novel (translated in English as Troubling Love), she wrote to her Italian publisher Sandra Ozzola, confirming and clarifying her position.
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Dear Sandra,
During the meeting I had recently with you and your husband [Sandro Ferri, co-founder and publisher of Edizioni EO], which was very enjoyable, you asked me what I intend to do for the promotion of Troubling Love (it’s good that you’re getting me used to calling the book by its final title). You asked the question ironically, with one of your bemused expressions. At the moment, I didn’t have the courage to answer you: I thought I had already been clear with Sandro; he had said that he absolutely agreed with my decision, and I hoped that he wouldn’t return to the subject, even jokingly. Now I’m answering in writing, which eliminates pauses, uncertainties, any possibility of compliance.
I do not intend to do anything for Troubling Love, anything that might involve the public engagement of me personally. I’ve already done enough for this long story: I wrote it. If the book is worth anything, that should be sufficient. I won’t participate in discussions and conferences, if I’m invited. I won’t go and accept prizes, if any are awarded to me. I will never promote the book, especially on television, not in Italy or, as the case may be, abroad. I will be interviewed only in writing, but I would prefer to limit even that to the indispensable minimum. I am absolutely committed in this sense to myself and my family. I hope not to be forced to change my mind. I understand that this may cause some difficulties at the publishing house. I have great respect for your work, I liked you both immediately, and I don’t want to cause trouble. If you no longer mean to support me, tell me right away, I’ll understand. It’s not at all necessary for me to publish this book. To explain all the reasons for my decision, is, as you know, hard for me. I will only tell you that it’s a small bet with myself, with my convictions. I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t. There are plenty of examples. I very much love those mysterious volumes, both ancient and modern, that have no definite author but have had and continue to have an intense life of their own. They seem to me a sort of nighttime miracle, like the gifts of the Befana, which I waited for as a child. I went to bed in great excitement and in the morning I woke up and the gifts were there, but no one had seen the Befana. True miracles are the ones whose makers will never be known; they are the very small miracles of the secret spirits of the home or the great miracles that leave us truly astonished. I still have this childish wish for marvels, large or small, I still believe in them.
Therefore, dear Sandra, I will say to you clearly: if Troubling Love does not have, in itself, thread enough to weave, well, it means that you and I were mistaken; if, on the other hand, it does, the thread will be woven where it can be, and we will have only to thank the readers for their patience in taking it by the end and pulling.
Besides, isn’t it true that promotion is expensive? I will be the least expensive author of the publishing house. I’ll spare you even my presence.
Warmly, Elena

Stephen Hawking : “my disability has been a help in a way. It has freed me from teaching or sitting on boring committees”

Q: People who use wheelchairs face many difficulties in leading a normal life. Having experienced difficulties yourself, what is your message to people who have to use wheelchairs?

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Image source : Internet

Hawking : Although I was unfortunate enough to get motor neurone disease, I have been very fortunate in almost everything else. I was lucky to be working in theoretical physics, one of the few areas in which disability was not a serious handicap, and to hit the jackpot with my popular books. My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Theoretical physics is one of the few fields in which being disabled is no handicap. It’s all in the mind. I must admit, I do tend to drift off to thinking about physics or black holes when I get left behind in the conversation. In fact, my disability has been a help in a way. It has freed me from teaching or sitting on boring committees, and given me more time to think and do research.

 

Source :  http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/09/25/inenglish/1443171082_956639.html

Anton Chekhov: “I try to show man to himself as he is, not as he is in our imaginations and myths”

Q: Why should people read your plays?

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image source : internet

Chekhov: I’m not sure they should.

I try to show man to himself as he is, not as he is in our imaginations and myths, or as he is on our modern stage. Life is composed primarily of banal events like greetings, partings, menial labor, meals, and unremarkable conversation; so, too, are my plays. If man were sufficiently aware of how he lives, I would feel no need to write plays about it.

Source : http://yesandrew.com/the-sunday-interview-anton-chekhov/

 

Doris Lessing : “my husband couldn’t afford a wife who had [radical ideas].

Q: Were you surprised at the criticism you received after writing, in your first book, about leaving the kids from your first marriage behind you?

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image source : internet

Doris : Of course I wasn’t surprised. The thing was that this was a terrible thing to do, but I had to do it because I have no doubt whatsoever if I had not done it, I would have become an alcoholic or ended in the loony bin. I couldn’t stand that life. I just couldn’t bear it. It’s this business of giving all the time, day and night, trying to conform to something you hate. Nobody can do it without going crazy. My husband was a civil servant who became increasingly high in the ranks. He couldn’t afford a wife who had [radical ideas]. I wouldn’t have lasted. I became friends with the kids later, and the grandkids, and so on. I’m not pretending that anything terrible didn’t happen.

Source : http://www.salon.com/1997/11/11/lessing/

 

James Benning : “when I see young students who can’t let go of their cellphones, constantly having to text and do that, that worries me”

Q : Do you think digital technology is making the world increasingly distractable?

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James: I mean… the whole computerised world now is somewhat distressing with cellphones. People constantly have to check things, and then they just check for a second and leave. It’s just all so weird to me; it’s a weird world that we’re in.

But there are people who are realising that too, and are going in the opposite direction… Some people are learning how to work with technology so it doesn’t completely destroy their autonomy. Like, for me, I’ve been thinking very much about the computer and what [Unabomber Ted] Kaczynski’s written about technology, and that is that the computer offers me complete autonomy in my work; I don’t need a lab, I can do these collages, all this stuff by myself. Sometimes I need some help from a few technicians, but basically it’s not like I have to buy things to make a film any more. It’s all available once I have this equipment.

But because of that I can work constantly now, because it doesn’t cost. All of a sudden maybe the more important autonomy of control, of what your life is about, has gone. Now I’m the slave to this machine, working and concentrating on what I want to do. Now I like that, but at the same time I’m not sure it’s healthy. It’s something one has to negotiate.

And when I see young students who can’t let go of their cellphones, constantly having to text and do that, that worries me… it’s so seductive. A lot of it’s just nonsense, right, what’s going on with those things? Or maybe they have important things to text, but I doubt it.

Source : http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/interviews/sight-sound-interview-james-benning

James Benning (born 1942) is an independent filmmaker from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Over the course of his 40-year career Benning has made over twenty-five feature-length films that have shown in many different venues across the world.

Asghar Farhadi :” I want audiences to put themselves in the shoes of characters who have done something wrong”

Q: Going off of that point about morality, there are a few characters in The Salesman who, in any other film, might be completely vilified or else deprived of the detail and humanity that other characters are afforded. How important is it to you that we feel empathy even for the characters who do despicable things in your movies?

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IMAGE SOURCE : internet

AF: This is the most important goal that I have in my films. I was talking with my friends and I told them, “If you want to write something on my grave, it should be ‘empathy.’” I’m always working towards empathy, even with the characters who do wrong. Audiences usually put themselves in the shoes of the good characters. They never put themselves in the shoes of the person who has done something wrong. And there is no challenge when you put yourselves in the shoes of the good people. The films where characters are heroic and do lots of great things are satisfying and comfortable to audiences. But I want audiences to put themselves in the shoes of characters who have done something wrong. In order to do that, I have to create empathy for the character. And [the audience] can then ask themselves, if I were in his shoes would I do the same thing or not? And if I were to do that, what decisions would I make after that? This is kind of an excuse for the audience to make self-realizations. For example, in About Elly, the audience has to ask themselves, If I was one of those people who went on the trip, would I lie to the fiancé as well and say we didn’t know [Elly] had a fiancé? Could I lie like them or not?

Source : http://reverseshot.org/interviews/entry/2306/farhadi

Bill Forsyth: “people in authority making purely emotional decisions instead of interesting rational ones”

Q- Hollywood isn’t eager to finance your work?

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Bill Forsyth– Financiers are suspicious because I work in low-budget. It’s easier for me to get three times the amount of money I really want. If you ask for relatively little money, they worry that you are going to get involved in something that is unwatchable or, worse, unmarketable. Unmarketable is a much more worrying term for them because if they can find an angle to make something unwatchable marketable, they’ll do it every week.

The studio system reminds me of the stock market. People think the stock market is a place of levelheadedness but it actually works in a totally emotional way: the President gets a pimple on his nose, and the thing plummets. The movie business is very much like that: people in authority making purely emotional decisions instead of interesting rational ones.

http://www.geraldpeary.com/interviews/def/forsyth.html